Cocktails of the Week
Comments 6

Cocktail of the week no.6 : the Boulevardier

My bottle of Campari has been languishing in the kitchen, waiting for warm weather when I feel like it’s time for a Negroni. I think I might have to do a series of Negroni variations – Sbagliato, Americano, a Cheeky Negroni, a Jasmine – but those all seem like spring/summer drinks. So while we wait for the weather to change, here’s a drink that’s often described as a cold-weather Negroni: Campari and sweet vermouth, but with bourbon replacing the gin. The bitterness is still there, but the overall effect is distinctly less crisp. The bourbon adds a sweetness and a honeyed warmth which is just right for the late winter chill. The  combination of Campari and sweet vermouth is such a complex taste, herbal and sophisticated. This article from T, the New York Times magazine, has some great suggestions for tweaks you can make to the cocktail (although they do involve some rather obscure ingredients, unsurprisingly).

The Boulevardier was first made by Harry McElhone in Paris in 1927 for his fellow American expat, Erskine Gwynne. Gwynne edited a monthly literary magazine called The Boulevardier, whence the cocktail takes its name. I love the name of this drink possibly more than I love the drink itself. A boulevardier is a man about town, a bon vivant; the idea of bowling along the boulevards of Paris, dashing and carefree, really sells me on this cocktail.  Gwynne is mentioned in a 1929 issue of Time magazine as being ‘cherub-faced and rumpus-raising,’ which just makes it more impossible to resist. I agree with Jonathan at Ice and Bitters when he says that this drink just seems French, whereas the Negroni just seems to fit the Italian context better.

1 oz bourbon or rye whisky
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel or a cherry.


  1. Pingback: Cocktail of the Week no.16: Negroni(s) | Coupe Half Full

  2. Try upping the bourbon to 1 1/2 oz and see how you like it. That little extra bourbon will help balance the Campari making the drink “warmer.” Cheers!

  3. ah, bourbon again! 😉 i do like a good gin negroni though. and am a big bitter fan, even substituting the red vermouth with dry vermouth and adding another dash of orange bitters. it is funny how perception differs as i often consider things not bitter at all that others cannot even stomach…

    • Yep hitting the Buffalo Trace pretty hard at the moment. I guess I associate bourbon with more cold weather drinks. It’s quite unusual to like bitter flavours, it took time for Campari drinks to grow on me. I’ll have to try your version and see if I can handle it!

  4. I am embarrassed to admit I am not a big Negroni fan. This, however, sounds delicious and I love the way you have written about it. I might go try one now!

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