Those who know me, know I have a cocktail repertoire of pretty much 2 drinks, the Negroni and the Old Fashioned. Now, Negronis are often reserved for summer, while Old Fashioneds are reserved for Friday nights at The House of Machines, or any long night at home.
Something tells me that’s all about to change, not much, but it’s gonna change.
Lets say hello to the Boulevardier. The Boulevardier can only be described as the love child of these 2 classic cocktails, taking the sweet bitterness from the Negroni and giving it the kick of the Old Fashioned. This drink is the brainchild of Harry Mcelhone, the founder and proprietor of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. In his book ‘Barflies and Cocktails’, Harry credits the Boulevardier Cocktail to Erskine Gwynne, a wealthy American who ran off to Paris and started The Boulevardier literary magazine, hence the name of the cocktail.
The ingredients and recipe, like most classic cocktails is very simple. Traditionally, the recipe calls for equal parts Campari, Sweet Vermouth and Rye Whiskey. I’m a big fan of bourbon so it’s an obvious substitute for the rye, but I’ve also substituted the Campari for Aperol – I’ve noticed that most people are scared off by the bitterness of Campari, so the Aperol just brings a sweeter side to the drink and it’s become a staple in my bar trolley.
You’re gonna want to serve this drink in a coupe cocktail glass, it’s a nice tip of the hat to it’s 1920’s origin. Chill the glass with a little ice (no one likes a warm cocktail) before you start prepping the rests of your ingredients.
I like to start mine off with a dash or two of bitters over ice in a pouring glass, the bitters just helps give the drink a little depth of flavouro. Next add the Aperol (or Campari if you prefer) and stir well, then stir in the sweet vermouth.
Stirring cocktails as opposed to shaking them helps maintain the clarity of the liquor while cooling it down and diluting it. Apparently, the secret to a good Boulevardier is a little extra Bourbon, so break the equal parts ration with 1,5 ratio of Bourbon and stir it in. I mean, can there be too much bourbon in your drink?
Remember, the longer you take to construct and stir your drink the more you dilute it, so be quick. Now take your chilled coupe glass, throw out the ice and simply pour that deliciously dark drink through a cocktail strainer. Yeah, it’s that simple.
Garnish with a twist (if you don’t know what a twist is read this), I like lemon as it helps to balance the sweetness of the Aperol. Drop it in and serve. You can thank me when you’re done.
I find my guests have trouble with their first Negronis and even more so with an old fashioned. Truth be told, my guests can be a bit soft, so this really does make for the perfect segway. Be warned though, like most prohibition cocktails this is just liquor on liquor and that sweet delicious Boulevardier will have you speaking french faster than you can say ‘tre magnifique’
Okay. Stay Fancy.