The Boulevardier is a Negroni with bourbon instead of gin. The Boulevardier first appeared in Harry’s 1927 bar guide, Barflies, and Cocktails.
From one article, we learned that the Negroni did not appear for another 20 years. Since the cocktail originated in Paris, it is likely many Americans had not heard of Campari in 1927.
So how did the Boulevardier come about?
When the United States went dry, 1920, many bartenders and other Americans flew the coop. Some such as Harry McElhone and Erskine Gwynne ended up in Paris, France. The cocktail made Harry’s book, but it is the signature drink of Erskine Gwynne. The cocktail gets its name from a monthly magazine Erskine edited called The Boulevardier.
What is a Boulevardier?
It is bourbon or rye-based cocktail with a blend of Campari and sweet vermouth.
Some think the original recipe of 1/3 Campari, 1/3 Italian Vermouth, 1/3 Bourbon whiskey is a perfect balance. From our point of view, there is room for improvement. Add more whiskey, and an orange peel for garnish is what we prefer.
For our version of this cocktail, we are using Saint Liberty’s Bertie’s Bear Gulch Bourbon. This whiskey is part of their Bootleggers Collection that honors prominent women bootleggers. This whiskey pays homage to Bertie “Birdie” Brown. The bourbon is distilled in Texas and aged at least four years in new white oak barrels. It features a slightly smoky char flavor. They triple pot distilled using a mash bill of 70% Texas corn, 27.5% Saskatchewan rye, and 2.5% malted barley from North Dakota. For us, the rye is the dominant flavor. It is creating an earthy base with hints of brown sugar, a dash of fruit. It is followed by bits of barrel char, giving it some smoke before an easy finish.
2 oz Bourbon
0.75 oz Campari
0.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
How to make
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir well. Strain into a chilled rocks glass (over ice, optional) and garnish with an orange twist.