Best-Ever Boulevardier

published Oct 28, 2021
Boulevardier Recipe

Think of boulevardiers as winter negronis – but with bourbon.

Serves1

Prep5 minutes

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Boulevardier (a whiskey cocktail) in a crystal glass on a round wooden table
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

The boulevardier is thought to have been created by an American in Paris in the 1920s. Despite being a century old, the boulevardier has experienced a resurgence in popularity during the last decade or so. I came to it late a few winters ago. As a gin drinker who was dipping her toe into whiskey, I was intrigued by the idea of a cold-weather negroni.

After mixing one up, I was immediately smitten. It’s familiar, but at the same time completely its own thing. And I love that all three of its ingredients are easily sourced and mixed without having to get too precious with measurements and equipment — deliciously simple.

What’s the Difference Between a Negroni and a Boulevardier?

The negroni mixes equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin. The boulevardier follows a similar formula, but uses bourbon in place of gin. While it’s a simple one-ingredient swap, the difference it makes in the overall effect is marked.

Negronis make me think of a pre-dinner drink on a patio after a day in the sun. Bittersweet and bright, each sip is a bracing reprieve from the heat. But a boulevardier is something to linger over, a way to extend an evening. A boulevardier in front of a fireplace is a wintertime wonder, giving cozy warmth from within your glass.  

The classic recipe ratio is 1:1:1 parts of Campari, sweet vermouth, and bourbon. Many modern recipes go up to twice the amount of bourbon. I’ve made them and had them mixed for me all sorts of ways. I like them all, but never tasted them side-by-side. I tested all sorts of ratios for this recipe, and finally landed on one part each of Campari and vermouth to one-and-a-half parts bourbon; you keep the classic flavors of the first two ingredients without the whiskey taking over. Play around with the ratio to fit your personal palate — it’s good any way you choose to mix it. 

Is the Boulevardier Similar to a Manhattan?

There are definitely similarities! Manhattans are made with rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The rye in a Manhattan is a bit spicier than the honeyed smoothness of bourbon, the bitterness less forward than with the boulevardier’s measure of Campari. If you like the idea of the rye, you can certainly use it in a boulevardier instead of bourbon.

How Do you Serve Boulevardier?

Boulevardier can be served on the rocks or up. Either way, you’ll want to give it a vigorous stir on ice before serving. The water smooths the drink out a bit.

A garnish is a nice way to finish your boulevardier. Options include the following:

Boulevardier Recipe

Think of boulevardiers as winter negronis – but with bourbon.

Prep time 5 minutes

Serves 1

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces

    bourbon or rye

  • 1 ounce

    Campari

  • 1 ounce

    sweet vermouth, such as Carpano Antica or Dolin

  • Orange peel or maraschino cherry, for garnish

  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice. Pour in 1 1/2 ounces bourbon or rye, 1 ounce Campari, and 1 ounce sweet vermouth. Stir until well-chilled, 30 seconds. Serve on the rocks or strain into a coupe glass.