The Boulevardier cocktail recipe is a classic from the roaring 20s when indulgence and excess were the order of the day. It sprang from the mind of a well-to-do socialite who whiled away his time in the smoky bars of Paris. It’s a deep well of vanilla, caramel, and oak flavors balanced by the bittersweet bite of Campari that leaves you wanting more with every sip.
How to Make a Boulevardier Cocktail at Home
PREP TIME 5 min
Twist the orange peel directly over the glass to release the oils into the cocktail and rub the peel around the rim of the glass before you drop it in.
Try rye whiskey instead of bourbon for a spicy Boulevardier drinking experience.
Once opened, store the vermouth in the fridge. It will last for 3 months.
Fill a rocks glass with ice
Pour in the bourbon, Campari, and vermouth
Stir until chilled
Twist the orange peel over the drink to release its oils, then drop it in the glass and serve
History of the Boulevardier Cocktail
The Boulevardier cocktail recipe was invented in the 1920s by an American writer living in Paris. Erskine Gwynne was a young man-about-town who spent his days hobnobbing with the socialites in Paris. When he wasn’t flitting from brunches and lunches to dinners and cocktail parties, he founded a magazine inspired by The New Yorker called The Boulevardier.
To go along with the launch of the magazine he decided that he needed a cocktail of the same name. Whether this was by clever design or because he couldn’t think of anything else, the Boulevardier cocktail was born. The magazine fizzled out after five years, but the Boulevardier cocktail recipe not only endured but thrived. It’s on the International Bartenders Association of official cocktails and even if old Erskine never got to see it there, it’s still a feather in his beret.
Negroni lovers will tell you that the Boulevardier is a riff on it, and Boulevardier lovers will tell you the opposite. We’re here to tell you, who cares! Because they are both ridiculously good. Where the Italian Negroni is bittersweet with bracing herbal and citrus notes, the Boulevardier is round, warm, and spicy with a lingering oaky finish. For two cocktails with two thirds of the same ingredients, they couldn’t be further apart in flavor. If you’d like to try a whiskey version, just replace the bourbon with your favorite brand.
When to serve
The real question is where does the Boulevardier not fit in? It’s a great allrounder that works at everything from cocktail and dinner parties to brunches and barbecue cookouts. One thing to bear in mind though is that the recipe for a Boulevardier cocktail packs a punch so drink responsibly.