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Cotswold Cocktail School - Boulevardier Cocktail Recipe

ABV 26.6% / 2.7 alcoholic units

Primary spirit: Bourbon

A Brief History of a Boulevardier

The Boulevardier's roots can be traced to the 1920s, during the heyday of the Prohibition era. Its origin is often credited to Erskine Gwynne, an American expatriate and the editor of a Parisian magazine called "Boulevardier." Gwynne's establishment was a gathering place for writers, artists, and other expatriates, and he is said to have introduced the cocktail as a house specialty.

The Boulevardier, a close relative of the Negroni, shares its basic structure but swaps out gin for whiskey. This subtle twist on the classic Negroni transformed the cocktail into a robust and intriguing libation that has stood the test of time.

Taste and Flavour Profile

The Boulevardier presents a taste that's both intriguing and inviting:

  • Whiskey Elegance: The whiskey, often bourbon or rye, forms the cocktail's backbone, infusing it with warmth, depth, and a hint of caramel sweetness.
  • Bittersweet Bites: Campari, the renowned Italian aperitif, lends the cocktail its bittersweet character, introducing complex herbal and citrus notes.
  • Sweet Vermouth: Sweet vermouth, with its rich, fortified wine base, provides a delightful contrast to the Campari's bitterness, contributing a luscious, round sweetness.

The result is a cocktail that is both robust and refined, a harmonious blend of whiskey's warmth, Campari's bitterness, and sweet vermouth's richness, creating a balanced and layered drinking experience.

Food Pairings

The Boulevardier's bold and complex flavors are wonderfully complemented by various food pairings:

  • Charcuterie: A charcuterie board featuring cured meats, artisanal cheeses, and pickled vegetables echoes the cocktail's sophistication and complexity.
  • Roasted Dishes: Roasted meats or vegetables, such as duck, lamb, or root vegetables, harmonise with the cocktail's rich notes.
  • Dark Chocolate: A square of dark chocolate or chocolate truffles provides a delightful contrast to the Boulevardier's bittersweet character.
  • Savoury Appetisers: Savory pastries, olives, or bruschetta are perfect accompaniments for a pre-dinner cocktail hour.

Bar Equipment

  • Mixing glass
  • Mixing spoon
  • Hawthorne strainer
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Rocks glass
  • Jigger


  • 45ml Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
  • 20ml Campari
  • 20ml Rosso sweet vermouth
  • Garnish: orange twist


  • Place ice into mixing glass and pour in bourbon/whiskey, vermouth and Campari. Gently stir of 20-30 seconds
  • Double strain into a chilled rocks glass with a large ice cube
  • Garnish with the orange twist

What's the best Bourbon for a Boulevardier Cocktail?

The best bourbon for a Boulevardier Cocktail is one that offers a balanced and robust flavor profile, as it plays a significant role in shaping the cocktail's taste. Look for a bourbon with the following characteristics:

  • High Proof: A higher-proof bourbon, typically around 90-100 proof, can stand up to the bold flavours of Campari and sweet vermouth without being overpowered.
  • Complexity: Choose a bourbon with a well-rounded and complex flavor profile, featuring notes of caramel, vanilla, oak, and spice. These elements complement the cocktail's depth.
  • Balanced Sweetness: A bourbon with a moderate sweetness can harmonise with the sweet vermouth, ensuring that the cocktail is neither overly sweet nor too dry.
  • Bourbon Brands: Some well-regarded bourbon brands that work well in a Boulevardier include Buffalo Trace, Bulleit Bourbon, Four Roses Small Batch, and Woodford Reserve. These bourbons are known for their quality and versatility in cocktails.
  • Personal Preference: As with all cocktails, personal preference plays a role in selecting the best bourbon. If you have a favorite bourbon that you enjoy on its own, it's worth trying it in your Boulevardier to see how it complements the other ingredients.

Ultimately, the best bourbon for your Boulevardier will depend on your individual taste and the specific flavor profile you desire. Experimentation can be a fun way to discover the bourbon that best suits your palate and the character of your cocktail. Enjoy crafting and savouring your Boulevardier with your chosen bourbon, and relish the complex and intriguing flavours of this classic cocktail.

Which is better in a Boulevardier Cocktail - Bourbon or Rye Whiskey?

Traditionally, a Boulevardier Cocktail is made with bourbon, but rye whiskey can be used as a delightful variation. The choice between bourbon and rye whiskey depends on your personal taste and the flavour profile you wish to achieve in your cocktail.

Here's a brief comparison to help you decide:


  • Bourbon is known for its sweetness, with flavours of caramel, vanilla, and a hint of fruitiness.
  • When used in a Boulevardier, bourbon can create a slightly sweeter and rounder profile, which complements the bitterness of Campari and the sweetness of sweet vermouth.
  • It offers a smooth and harmonious balance in the cocktail.

Rye Whiskey:

  • Rye whiskey has a spicier and peppery character, with notes of spice, herbs, and a drier finish.
  • When used in a Boulevardier, rye whiskey can introduce a bolder and more robust flavor profile, emphasising the spiciness of the whiskey and creating a drier finish.
  • It adds a different layer of complexity to the cocktail.

In the end, the choice between bourbon and rye whiskey depends on your personal preference and the specific flavour experience you seek. If you enjoy the sweetness of bourbon and want a smoother, rounder cocktail, go with bourbon. If you prefer a spicier, bolder profile with a drier edge, opt for rye whiskey. You can even try both versions to determine which one you like best. Whichever whiskey you choose, a Boulevardier remains a classic and sophisticated cocktail worth savouring.

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