Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics

Boulevardier

Boulevardier

Ingredients:

1oz Bourbon

1oz Carpano Antica

1oz Campari

Orange twist

 
Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Serve up in a chilled coupe. Garnish with a flamed orange peal.

Notes:

One of the greatest cocktails ever made (not biased at all). Sweet, Bitter, Smooth. A Manhattan/Negroni variation of sorts, with a more robust flavor profile. The interplay between the three main ingredients will make many Manhattan lovers favor the Boulevardier as the additional orange tinged bitter complexity added by the Campari really sets this one apart. For those that love a Negroni, the Boulevardier is an obviously heavier, fuller flavored drink, due to swapping whiskey for gin.
 
The particular combination of Antica, Campari and Knob Creek all lend a slightly smokey, earthy flavor to the drink. The flamed orange twist accentuates these flavors and adds to the orange flavor in the Campari. 100 proof whiskey, such as Knob Creek or Rittenhouse Rye, is recommended for the Boulevardier as it will hold up well in equal parts to the strong flavor of the Campari. The rye also works great for a less sweet, slightly spicier taste.


History:

The Boulevardier dates back to prohibition. Bartender Harry McElhone is often credited with this one while at the helm of Harry’s New York Bar, in Paris. Prior to prohibition, McElhone worked at the Plaza Hotel bar in New York City, but as some bartenders did, fled to Europe at the start of prohibition. After moving around Europe, he settled at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. A rare benefit of prohibition was that some of the bartenders who relocated gained access to new ingredients, such as Campari, which were not available in the United States at the time.

The Boulevardier is tied closely to Erskinne Gwynne, a wealthy American who moved to Paris and started a magazine called The Boulevardier. Some say McElhone created it for him, while McElhone seems to credit it to Gwynne. The cocktail is featured in two of McElhone’s books, ABC of Mixing Cocktails (early 1920s) and Barflies and Cocktails (1927) and is essentially a variation of the Negroni; however, the Boulevardier actually appeared in widespread print prior to the Negroni.

VariationS:

Try this one with equal parts first as the flavor significantly changes with a higher volume of whiskey, bringing the drink closer to a Manhattan accentuated by the other ingredients, rather than the evenly balanced recipe featured above. Once you get a sense of this version, play with the ratios to see what you prefer.

Many modern bartenders mix this one with a higher ratio of whiskey to the other ingredients, often using 1.5oz to 2oz of whiskey and reducing the other ingredients appropriately. Some swap for rye, and others use both a higher ratio and rye. The argument by some is that bourbon is not strong enough to stand up to the Campari; however, if using some of the slightly higher proof spirits, such as Knob Creek at 100 proof, the whiskey stands up well, while keeping the original ratio.

Many other variations exist. A simple one if you like the earthy and smokey aspects of the Boulevardier is to rinse the chilled coupe in Peat Monster, or other peaty scotch to add an additional warm smokey flavor prior to pouring in the drink.

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22 Responses to “Boulevardier”

  1. Old Pal | The Straight Up

    […] The Old Pal was first published in McElhone’s ABC of Cocktails (1922), the same book as the Boulevardier. In fact they are very similar drinks, that vary solely by vermouth (dry vs. sweet) and twist […]

    Reply
  2. Viale | The Straight Up

    […] started as a subtle variation of one of my favorites, the Boulevardier, turned into something a bit more interesting. I was hoping to make a boulevardier-esque cocktail, […]

    Reply
  3. Lucien Gaudin | The Straight Up

    […] the Negroni and Martini, but more “orangey.” If you are at all a fan of the Negroni, Boulevardier, Old Pal, or like Martini’s and Campari, you owe it to yourself to try Lucien Gaudin. […]

    Reply
  4. Cocktails Simplified – Whiskey | The Straight Up

    […] For our next ingredient, let’s add Campari to our bar. This spirit can also be used in a variety of cocktails, as well as drank straight, over ice, in prosseco, or with seltzer. We will use the Campari with our whiskey and sweet vermouth to make a Boulevardier. […]

    Reply
  5. Scorched Earth | The Straight Up

    […] for a while, or even if you just look through a few pages, it’s obviously no secret that the Boulevardier and Negroni are two of my favorite cocktails, both of which share one of my favorite ingredients, […]

    Reply
  6. Eloquent Gentleman | The Straight Up

    […] for something a bit too sweet for my taste. This held true in one of my favorite cocktails, the Boulevardier. In an attempt to make something a little different, but still keep a similar flavor profile to a […]

    Reply
  7. The Study | The Straight Up

    […] a bit of playing around, we end up with something in between two of my favorite cocktails, the boulevardier and the Old Fashioned. The peated scotch rinse (I prefer Peat Monster from Compass Box), really […]

    Reply
  8. Arkham_Razors

    The boulevardier is the cocktail that made me realize what I was missing in life. I’ve made them with both Campari and Gran Classico and love them both.

    I add a strange ingredient which seems to add even more depth and complexity: A splash of Herbsaint to coat the glass. Now I feel like something is missing when I make one without it. Also, I go overboard spritzing orange oils on the top of the drink.

    I love how each sip contains so many different yet complementary flavors and smells.

    Reply
    • The Straight Up

      Thanks for the comment. I totally agree, the Boulevardier really opened my eyes to classic cocktails and also started my addiction to Campari!

      I like your idea. While I haven’t tried a Boulevardier with an absinthe rimmed glass I bet it is delicious! I’ll def be giving it a try.

      If you like those flavors, you may like my drink The Bittersweet Garden. More toward the Negroni side, but has a great anise flavor from the Green Chartreuse.

      And I agree, the orange really makes the drink even better, especially flamed. The complexity on the nose and palate really makes this in my mind one of the best cocktails of all time. Cheers!

      Reply
  9. Apple and Snake | The Straight Up

    […] habanero tincture called En Fuego. I followed that one up with, Smoke in the Woods, a charcoal aged Boulevardier with flamed absinthe on top. Besides hitting the fire theme, this one was also quite smokey from […]

    Reply
  10. Smoke Signal | The Straight Up

    […] smokey cocktail, Smoke in the Woods, but this also gave me a challenge to try something new. Smokey Boulevardiers/Negronis are my go to drink and it was great to explore new territory. I will definitely be smoking […]

    Reply

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