It’s amazing to me just how well the Negroni has exploded in popularity over the past decade. It seems like fifteen years ago, nobody had even heard of it, ten years ago it was a secret handshake among cocktail aficionados, and five years ago it was the hottest classic cocktail out there. And today, it seems as if there isn’t a drinker out there who isn’t a massive fan.
Bourbon has also risen in popularity considerably during this time period, and so I’m always a little taken aback when I meet someone who hasn’t yet tried the Boulevardier. If you love bourbon, and you love a Negroni, there’s no drink you should love more; the Boulevardier is nothing more than a Negroni made with American whiskey.
Originally specified with Canadian Club whiskey, it’s safe to say that the drink is improved upon by using something a touch more - shall we say, flavorful? You see, while Canadian Club was called for in many classic cocktails, to me it reads more as a common shorthand for “whiskey from North America that you could get your hands on during Prohibition”. I’ll pass on the light Canadian stuff, and instead reach for something with a little more body.
I can’t think of too many drinks I’d rather be handed this time of year, especially when I’m nearly ready to put a summer of Negronis behind me and settle in to a fall of richer, more contemplative whiskey-based options. The Boulevardier sits in a place in between days, where it’s not yet time to bring out the Manhattans before dinner.
Be warned that the simplest search will yield all manner of cocktail theorists waxing poetic about the ideal Boulevardier proportions, but at the end of the day there’s really no comparison for the simplest of ratios: equal parts. And while the original recipe calls for a lemon twist to finish the thing, take it from me, an orange twist simply tastes better. There’s not much left to overthink.
• 1 oz bourbon
• 1 oz Campari
• 1 oz sweet vermouth
Combine ingredients with ice and stir until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.
OUR FAVORITE BARTENDERS SHARE THEIR FAVORITE COCKTAILS