The Boulevardier, an equal parts drink with gravitas

The Boulevardier is a drink whose specs will feel familiar to any of you who have enjoyed a Negroni or two: we’ve used equal parts bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth here (though the earliest reference to the drink has a slightly different measure of whiskey), and you’d be right in thinking that’s it’s a Negroni made with whiskey in place of the gin.

But it doesn’t mean that this drink is a Negroni knock off. The prevailing origin story of the Negroni dates its invention to 1919 and one Count Camillo Negroni at a bar called Casoni in Florence, Italy, though there is some debate about the merits of this (some accounts trace the drink back before 1900, but we’re talking Boulevardiers here). And it appears the earliest written reference to the Negroni recipe is a drink called the Campari Mixte in 1929 with the famed equal parts ratio.

The thing is, the Boulevardier gets a mention a couple of years earlier in Harry MacElhone’s 1927 book, Barflies & Cocktails. It was equal parts bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari, and so named for a socialite American who frequented the bar and owned a magazine called The Boulevardier (or so the story goes). That naming habit — and the drink’s formula — was apparently a regular thing for MacElhone, who would later invent another riff on the drink called the Old Pal, using rye, dry vermouth, and Campari, and name it for a sports writer he referred to as his ‘old pal’.

It’s a nice bit of bartender bluster and banter, and it makes a great tasting drink.

The Boulevardier

  • 30 ml Russell’s Reserve 10 Years Old
  • 30 ml Campari
  • 30 ml Cinzano Rosso
  1. Stir down all ingredients with ice, then strain over good block ice in an old fashioned glass (or serve it up — it’s up to you).

What’s in the drink?

  • Sweet spices, musk and bay leaf on the nose, with sweet vanilla, leather and straw evident.
  • On the palate there is spice, with notes of chilli and spearmint, soft charred oak, and mild anise.
  • There’s vibrant rye grain, and light spice and caramel on the finish.

For more information contact your Campari Australia representative.