Negroni may be the most popular drink of the year but did you know that it has a cousin? Meet the Boulvadier, a classic cocktail with a long history and an elegant, refined taste that you can easily recreate at home.
When you go up to a bar and place an order, chances are the word, ‘Boulvadier’ doesn’t jump to mind. That’s because while this cocktail has over a century of history, it’s fallen by the wayside in terms of popularity. It’s sometimes erroneously called a version of the Negroni, but in reality, the Boulvadier predates its famous sibling and can be traced back to the famed French publisher Erskine Gwynne.
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In 1920s Paris, Gwynne used to have a signature order at his local bar, one-third bourbon, one-third Campari and one-third vermouth. This unique creation was the foundation for the Boulevardier. In fact, Gwynne was so tied to the cocktail that his literary magazine shared the same name and was described in an early advertisement as best “read before, between and after cocktails.”
It was Harry McElhone, the founder, and proprietor of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris who’s credited with the first record of the drink when he featured it in his 1927 book “Barflies and Cocktails”, a treasure trove with over 300 recipes. The recipe itself isn’t mentioned since McElhone defers the rights to Gwynne as the true creator but in a footnote, the Boulevardier gets its first written accolade.
The name Boulvardier translates loosely to ‘fashionable socialite’, and that was exactly the crowd that it attracted. With a deep, smooth flavour it is less punchy than the Negroni but has always attracted a very specific audience. Thanks to its simple proportions, it’s very easy to make and as such, very easy to adapt. Like so many classic cocktails, it’s flexible and allows room for innovation. Many switch out the whiskey for bourbon or rye and using dry or sweet red vermouth creates a different finish.
But since its such a minimalist cocktail, choosing the core ingredients carefully is essential to ensure a quality finish. Unlike many Negroni recipes, which call for equal proportions of each ingredient, this recipe (like many others) uses whiskey in a higher proportion, allowing it to cut through bitter Campari and rich herbal vermouth. Put all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and garnish with an orange twist, and take a trip back to the 1920s.
- 1½ Oz. Bourbon
- 1 Oz. Campari
- 1 Oz. Sweet Vermouth
- Add bourbon, Campari and sweet vermouth into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
- Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
- Garnish with an orange twist.