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Cocktail Hour: Sip on a Boulevardier, a Fresh Cocktail Made for Winter

Sophisticated and jazzy, a Boulevard swaps a Negroni’s gin for bourbon

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By Bon Appetit US | May 7, 2024 | Recipes

Why do winter cocktails have to be so damn wintery? I don't need seven sticks of cinnamon, half a holly tree, or a metric ton of cloves to entice me to drink booze in the winter. I don't need mulling spices or liqueur that tastes like cookies. I just need the right combination of liquors to bring those subtle, comforting flavors to the table. And this is why I drink Boulevardiers all winter long.

The Boulevardier and the Negroni are extremely similar. They're cousins, born from the same blood, but raised in different households. "The Boulevardier was created in the late 1920s by Erskine Gwynne, an expatriate writer, socialite and Vanderbilt family relation who founded a Paris literary magazine called The Boulevardier," says cocktail author Robert Simonson in a New York Times article. At their core, they’re both made from a mixture of three types of booze. They both include Campari and sweet vermouth, but the main liquor is what distinguishes them entirely. The Negroni uses gin, and the Boulevardier is made with bourbon.

What sets a Boulevardier apart from the famous Negroni is swapping gin for bourbon. Image: Supplied.

It’s a simple switch that makes a hell of a difference. Where the gin keeps a Negroni citrus-forward, light, and refreshing, the bourbon drags you down into the depths, through layers of flavor. It’s bittersweet, warming, and spicy, an Italian villa in the snowy Colorado Rockies. It tastes the way illustrations in a 100-year-old book look. It tastes like old leather feels or how whispered confessions of love sound. Drinking one feels like floating around in a lava lamp filled with sweet cherries, bittersweet orange peels, and dried stone fruit.

Is this too much? A little melodramatic? Nope. A Boulevardier makes me feel these things. Promise. And to add to the appeal, they’re very simple to make.

You should drink a Boulevardier, because it lands directly between the familiar and the exciting. Photography by Lizzet Ortiz.

How to Make a Boulevardier Cocktail

Combine 2 oz. bourbon (whatever your personal preference may be), 1 oz. Campari, and 1 oz. sweet vermouth (I like Dolin) in a large mixing glass with ice. Stir the hell out if that thing for about a minute, and pour it into a tumbler with large ice cubes. The Boulevardier can also be served up, depending on preference, but you should always garnish it with a slice of lemon peel.

And if you’re already digging Boulevardiers on a regular basis, go a step further. Make yourself an Old Pal, which is just as friendly as it sounds. Campari (par for the course), rye whiskey, and dry vermouth. The dry vermouth makes it cleaner than a Boulevardier, but the rye makes it spicier than a Negroni.

Photography by Samuel Elkins.

But really, you should drink a Boulevardier, because it lands directly between the familiar and the exciting. Negroni season has passed. The Boulevardier is equipped with everything your winter needs. A welcomed change of pace. A subtle, warming glow of citrus and spice. And, most importantly, booze. I won't tell you to put away the inflatable snow globe on your lawn. Or the paper snowflakes in your kitchen. But please, leave the decorations far away from your cocktail. The Boulevardier is all this winter needs.

Need those giant ice cubes? We've got you.

This recipe originally appears on Bon Appetit US.