Recipes

boulevardier

According to my calendar, on December 19th I ostensibly signed special ordered books at The Strand and then took my two year-old to a holiday party, but I know the truth, which is that I was actually reading this hilarious piece on Bon Appetit from Alex Delany in which he complains that winter cocktails are usually too unsubtly wintery, that he doesn’t need “seven sticks of cinnamon, half a holly tree or a metric ton of cloves, mulling spices or liquor that tastes like cookies” to entice him to drink booze in the winter, and texting my husband that we should make boulevardiers that night after the kids went to sleep.


what you'll need, plus ice

Boulevardier, according to Google, means “a wealthy, fashionable socialite,” (aka “what is the opposite of Deb?”) but from that day on, it will be forever be the official drink of the winter of 2017-2018 (this is the official cookie, by the way) because we’ve found it downright habit-forming.

A distant cousin of the Negroni, both contain sweet (red) vermouth and Campari but the Boulevardier swaps the usual gin for bourbon, traditionally, or rye, what I often use, and the effect is mellowing, and less intimidatingly bitter, than a Negroni. It needs exactly nothing else to be a finished drink. Sure, it’s nice with a twist of orange or lemon, and I’ve also enjoyed it with a cocktail cherry, especially when someone else was making it, but most of the times it’s simply been on ice and I shamelessly love that I don’t even have to fish a piece of fruit of the fridge to make it happen. I realize that announcing that sometimes one wants a cocktail but is too lazy to make a real effort about it is not exactly the most flattering light in which to paint oneself, but this is a sacrifice I’m willing to make if it means more of us will read this and know it’s exactly the right cozy thing for right now.

boulevardier

Boulevardier

Traditionally, the Boulevardier is 1 ounce (1 part) each Campari, sweet red vermouth, and rye whiskey or bourbon, but many versions use 1.25 to 1.5 ounces (1.25 to 1.5 parts) of the latter, and I go even further to 2. (Bourbon is generally more mellow and sweet; rye, slightly more spicy and dry.) It is not a subtle drink. It should definitely be sipped quite slowly. We make it on the rocks, but you can also shake it with ice, strain it, and serve it up. I show it here with an orange peel we like very much (a cherry, and yes, the Luxardo ones are absolutely worth it, is also good) but it’s also good with no garnishes whatsoever.

  • 2 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce red vermouth
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • Ice

In an old-fashioned glass, mix everything and add ice to taste.

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78 comments on boulevardier

  1. My favorite cocktail!

    I personally really like it with Elijah Craig’s bourbon and Campari Antica vermouth, as the butterscotch notes in EC and the complexity of Antica play nicely with the campari.

    I also totally agree with upping the percentage of bourbon. Campari can be … bracing.

    1. Karen

      I randomly came home from the liquor store today with a bottle of Elijah Craig’s bourbon and Antica Formula vermouth, then I find this recipe and your recommendation! This cocktail is like being wrapped in warm velvet. I love it much more than the classic negroni (which I always felt like I was supposed to love). I too agree that the higher ratio of bourbon is a win here.

  2. Jaime Miele

    Here’s a dumb question I’m only a little embarrassed to ask but the want for one exceeds the embarrassment…how do you pronounce this? Boo-leh-vard-ee-ay?

    1. Garrett

      I’m a huge fan of using St George Bruto Americano or Aperol in place of Campari. Makes it more complex and less of a bitter orange punch to the face

    2. Patsy

      I love it with Aperol and Cocchi Vermouth di Torino (which is somewhere between dry and sweet vermouth). It’s less sweet and more complex.

      1. Stacey

        Thanks for the advice! I had aperol in the house, and at the wine/ liquor store’s big sale, i grabbed that vermouth + a new bottle of rye. So good!

  3. Maro

    Boulevardiers are one of my favorites — I even got my mom hooked!

    I’d recommend a stir over ice rather than shake method for this cocktail if serving up — you can control the watering better and shaking isn’t needed if there’s no fruit juice, cream, or eggs. clearer, prettier drinks with a stir!

  4. Kathryn

    I love this drink, but man it’s strong. Also love the Grub Street article. So damn funny. I have been struggling for years to make good Pao De Queijo. Impossible! I go to the Brazilian restaurant near my house where they are small, unassuming and amazing. I hope you crack the code. If anyone can, you can.

    1. Isa

      Hello! The secret is to use brazilian cheese! Specially our ‘Queijo Meia cura’ which is a partly cured cheese. It is melty, salty and a bit tangy.

  5. Deb, where do you recommend looking for Campari, if one’s in a suburban strip mall heaven with no specialty liquor stores? I asked in the state agency in the grocery and got a blank stare.

  6. Kristen

    Funny, I searched the site for this recipe last night, thinking you must have it in the archives somewhere! I was a day too soon!

  7. John Burke

    I like almost anything made with Campari–Negronis, Boulevardiers with bourbon, Boulevardiers with rye. (Was I somehow exposed to Lavoris mouthwash in utero?–because the similarities are disturbingly close.) But for the vermouth, try Punt e Mes, which I think is more interesting all on its own than other ITalian v ermouths I’ve tried.

  8. Charlotte in Toronto

    I’m at work but I’ll be leaving soon, driving through a blinding blizzard (Really? Snow in Toronto?) to get home. And I’ll be having one of these when I get there. So delicious ❤

  9. Vanessa

    I love Boulevardiers, thanks for the recipe! What I love even more I made up as a riff on them and is a step further from the Negroni: equal parts Rye, Aperol and Sweet Vermouth, with a dash of orange bitters. Aperol is another Italian bitter like Campari but it is both less cutting and less sweet. I call it a Divers, after Fitzgerald’s Dick & Nicole Diver, because it seems like an American who went to Europe and got…a little sidetracked, which is how I often feel after a few of these :)

  10. Anna McG

    Yay, Boulevardiers!! This has been my favorite cocktail recently. Delicious and pretty. My husband makes them for me with a lemon twist, and I drink them in my pjs on the couch. Super fancy. Look forward to trying some of the suggestions in the comments!

  11. cathydellinger

    You always make me smile. And, make cooking a joy. I took the salted chocolate chunk shortbread cookies to my husband’s rescheduled staff holiday party along with the giant chocolate cake by you know who. OMG, lots of happy faces and sugar overload, but that’s what rescheduled parties are all about. The Boulevardier is scheduled for a more adult dinner later this month. Can’t wait!!

  12. jkricks

    Well, I’m in. You had me at the name and Bourbon. I was looking for a new evening drink since Wassail (althougn wonderful) is more of a holiday drink. I’ll be making this this weekend. Thank you! (And I think orange peel & a cherry ;-)

    Jules

  13. Lauren

    I’m sure the boulevardier isn’t “just another pretty face”, but your photos make it so gorgeous looking that I have to make them myself …just to be sure that your photos have not misrepresented its beauty!

  14. Stefan

    I love a boulevardier! I came here to reference an apple pie recipe (and have been coming to your site for years now) but the color of the drink in your picture made me stop. It seems a bit red, maybe heavy on Campari? (I go for bourbon btw). In SF, I go to 1760 on Polk, really great spot for cocktails, including a boulevardier. last week I was in boulder at a small hotel bar and asked if they ever made one and the bar tender surprised me with “Of course!” Really? Ok, it was right. What a treat! Well tonight it’s boulevardier and apple pie!

  15. Molly

    Ooh, I just made a sister version of this tonight with Pampelle (a pink grapefruit amaro), Punt e Mes and bourbon! It must be Boulevadier o’clock worldwide :)

  16. Rebecca

    I haven’t had a chance to try the cocktail yet (maybe later today!) but I need to plug a different cookie. Your olive oil shortbread with rosemary in the new book- pure genius. My favorite variation- leave out the chocolate chips and add a good tablespoon or more of fennel. Like torta de aceite, cookified- the perfect addition to a cheese plate. With a boulivardier, maybe? So delicious!!!

    1. Kate

      AGREE. Once I saw the recipe, I could not stop thinking about those cookies until I made them, and they were even better than I imagined.

  17. Amanda

    Reading this at 8:30 in the morning is a bit cruel since I’m going to have to wait 12 hours to give this a whirl. It’s right up my alley and since there have been several Aperol substitution suggestions (and I have Aperol on hand and not Campari) I see the modified version in my future!

  18. sura

    My favorite, especially when you encounter a passionate bartender who barrel-ages his Boulevariers, and is an excited little puppy when you order one. Had one for my birthday two days ago.

  19. Siri

    My boyfriend’s favorite drink in summer is a negroni, and he is partial to a bourbon in the evening, so I sent him your Grub Street Diary right after reading because a boulevardier sounds right up his alley. Very excited that we can now try a good recipe at home. Thank you!

  20. Caro

    Yum! Looks delightful!

    Deb, can I make a request? Can you please do an updated post of how you organize your ingredients/pantry items in your kitchen? Thank you!

  21. Megan

    I made this when you posted about it on your e-mail newsletter. It wasn’t that good so I wonder if I used different brands of bourbon or sweet vermouth if it would taste better. Probably mine doesn’t taste the same as yours. Unfortunately, they don’t sell the George Dickel stuff in our state. I used Gallo sweet vermouth and Wild Turkey 101 kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. Could you please recommend some bourbon brands (although I checked reviews online of this bourbon and the vermouth and they got decent ratings). So maybe I don’t need to run out to find the better kind of vermouth and different bourbon or whiskey? I won’t let my stuff go to waste, I’ll still drink it.

    1. deb

      There are so many bourbons out there — what are you looking for? I’m not overly attached to George Dickel, it’s simply what we had around. I’d say the smoothest and mellowest of bourbons is Basil Hayden; it’s also a great starter bourbon. I use Dolin red vermouth. Tell us more about how you’d like it to taste and we might be able to make suggestions.

      1. Megan

        Thank you so much for the suggestion–they do sell Basil Hayden here! I’m very new to bourbon and also will have to look for that vermouth. It’s hard for me to say how I’d like it to taste but will have to report back if different brands make a difference for me.

        1. Megan

          So, I bought some Basil Hayden (it was $44, so very expensive I thought, hope I didn’t over pay!) and made the drink with it but actually couldn’t tell a difference in the taste. I’m going to try to find the vermouth you used to see if that tastes different.

  22. ELCookie

    Bourbon for me. Rye for my husband. Smooth and slightly sweet and just right for a cold night. Along w/grilled steaks and roasted veg for dinner. Yum!!!

  23. Kim

    I have fallen in love with the cousin of the Boulevardier: 2 oz rye, 1 oz Campari, 1 oz dry vermouth. Maybe a twist of lemon if I’m energetic. Heaven!!

  24. Madison

    I love a good Boulevadier. It was last winter’s go-to cocktail and one night we ran out of Campari, so we swapped it with Aperol and liked it even more. Now I’ll do 1 1/5 oz. rye, 1 oz. Aperol and 1 oz. sweet vermouth.

  25. julie garagliano

    Oh yes! I feel like I should say “my name is Julie and I am addicted to bourbon!” As much as I love my Manhattans, I truly love Boulevardiers. Mans are for every day. Bouls are for when you Really Need A Strong Drink. Thank you.

  26. kitblue

    I’m not sure I am brave enough to try this! If I do, as a Canadian, I will have to use rye whisky. (NOT a spelling mistake!)

  27. Paula Lyne

    On Friday I sent my partner a screengrab of your mention of boulevardiers from the Grub Street article with the message ‘We MUST make these.’ I was only sad you didn’t have a Deb-approved recipe on your site – and hours later you posted one! Absolute win. Thank you!

  28. AWads

    oh, dear sweet baby cheeses! i have been making this drink for years but with just ONE oz of bourbon (1:1:1 ratio, as in a negroni). It’s TWO ounces?? I feel like i need to somehow make up for that mistake!! Do you have a time machine?

  29. Charlotte

    Happy New Year Deb,

    I miss seeing the lovely photograph that used to be the first thing I’d see when I came to your site. The SK logo is a bit off putting.

    Carry on with your great blog!
    Bring the photo back?
    Aloha ~

    1. deb

      Hi Charlotte — Thank you. What photo was on top? Prior to July 2016, when the site was redesigned, the sidebar was on the left, not right, and the logo was on top of it (i.e. logo was top-left on site). The main column was of course photo-led posts, except the titles were on top.

  30. We served Boulevardiers at our wedding in October as our only cocktail, and it was a hit. Many people had never had one before, so it was special enough for the occasion, but familiar-enough to entice. We used High West Double Rye–it’s the best.

  31. Mimi

    High West Distillery in Park City makes a barrel aged Boulevardier that you can find in some well stocked liquor stores all over (we have it in Boston). Keep a bottle in the freezer and cocktail hour is as easy as pouring a little (or a lot) over an ice cube or two. The barrel aging makes it especially mellow. It’s dangerous stuff! You’re my favorite, btw, thanks for the amazing blog and books!

    https://www.highwest.com/products/the-barreled-boulevardier.php

  32. Charlotte

    Hi Deb,

    My Bad….my cookie blocker decided to re-arrange your web page…. I’ve got it back as it should be. I love your blog and all the recipes I’ve tried have been great!

    Aloha ~
    Charlotte

  33. charlotte steinzig

    Bourbon, Cocchi di Torino, and Aperol (in place of the Campari.) Thanks to those whose comments suggested these alternatives. Yummy. We all had two apiece.

  34. Abesha1

    Longtime reader here. I don’t drink liquor, so
    I’m wondering if anyone can explain the name of the drink, Negroni? How can that be a name that is still in use in this day and age?

    This is a real question, not criticism or trolling.

    1. kitblue

      from Wikipedia “Count Camillo Negroni concocted it by asking the bartender, Fosco Scarselli, to strengthen his favorite cocktail, the Americano, by adding gin rather than the normal soda water. The bartender also added an orange garnish rather than the typical lemon garnish of the Americano to signify that it was a different drink.[2][3][4][5]”

  35. lizzy

    Well. This is delicious and dangerous. We’ve made this twice now, and next time I think we’ll try the version with Aperol instead of Campari. We use the same vermouth and the same Campari (I think there’s only one kind?) as Deb. Our ordinary “mixin’ bourbon” is Jim Beam, which I think mixes nicely with other spirits, and works really well in this drink. We accumulate bourbons, and find they definitely have different flavor profiles; I’m not sure I’d use a bigger-flavored bourbon in this particular drink. We accumulate amaros, too, so keep these fabulous cocktail recipes coming!

  36. Marianne

    You want a winter cocktail? My husband is a science fiction and fantasy writer, and one year he wrote a short story about Santa coming home from his rounds and being greeted by the elves with “the Xmastini! It starts with a base of cinnamon vodka, followed by equal measures of eggnog, rum, and peppermint schnapps. Atop this is floated a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream sprinkled with a scattering of cookie crumbs and powdered cloves to give it texture. Upon this canvas, the elves dribble crème de menthe to create a jagged green Christmas tree, which they then decorate with swags of caramel and chocolate and candied cranberries for the balls. A silvered crystal of sugar serves as the star at its tip. A dusting of nutmeg and sage all but completes the masterpiece. Finally, for a garnish, they slide in a candy cane, crook-end hooked over the edge of the glass.”

  37. Rose

    Oh yum! Used a Boulder, Colorado Midcro-Distillery Bourbon, Campari, and Gambarelli & Davitto Red Vermouth. Neither orange peel nor Luxardo cherries. Next time I’ll try it with a Rye. AND I’m going to have to find some cherries. I did notice that the Campari is artificially colored. Does anyone know of a brand that is not?

  38. Laura

    I always find negronis a bit too bitter, but your boulevardier is the perfect proportion of whiskey, campari, and vermouth. You still get the bitterness of the campari, but it doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients. This is definitely going to have to get put in my winter drink rotation of manhattans and old fashions!

  39. A boulevardier is one of my favorite cocktails on the planet. We often substitute Campari with Amaro Nonino for an even smokier flavor as it is aged in oak barrels. Although, from what I understand, it is tough to find Amaro Nonino stateside (we live on the border with Italy – lucky us!).

  40. Jennifer

    I love this cocktail! Agree about the Antica vermouth. We like to use Cynar in place of Campari. A bit more savory. Cheers!

  41. Andi

    My sometime bartender-daughter introduced me to this, it’s now a favorite. While on an Alaskan cruise, the talented and entertaining bartender said I should really upgrade the Campari to Gran Classico by Tempus Fugit Spirits. No artificial colors, better taste. Wish I could post a pic.

  42. Allie

    Mezcal. Make a negroni/boulevardier with mezcal instead of gin or rye. Promise, it will change your life. Smokey/sweet/bitter perfection.

  43. Liz Barenholtz

    Just made this and it’s delicious. Didn’t have Campari so I substituted Aperol and it was great, may not taste exactly the same but it works. Great cozy cocktail
    On a rainy Saturday night at home.