From Paris With Love: The Little-Known Boulevardier Cocktail

Hemmingway and his daiquiri might've cornered the market on ex-pat drinks, but the lesser-known Boulevardier is just as tasty and easy to make.

Updated February 5, 2024
Bittersweet Classic Boulevardier

Grab your coats and follow us down our boulevardier of broken dreams. Think of the boulevardier as the friendly cousin of the Negroni with a slight twist — the gin is swapped for whiskey. Originating in Paris around the 1920s, this cocktail was created by American ex-pats, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

How to Make a Classic Boulevardier Cocktail 

While the boulevardier (pronounced bool-ah-vard-ee-a) might be less known than the Negroni it's derived from, it's a drink that deserves a place in everyone's wheelhouse. Having a bourbon base, this drink is a great introduction to bitter or aperitif-style cocktails. Step outside of the typical vodka box with this Jazz Age recipe. 

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, add ice, whiskey, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
  2. Stir rapidly to chill.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice or king cube.
  4. Garnish with an orange peel.
Fast Fact

Harry McElhone, a famous bartender, is credited with creating this unique whiskey riff. But you might not know he's also the godfather of other famous drinks like the sidecar and the French 75.

Related: A Divinely Invigorating Negroni Cocktail Recipe

5 Variations and Substitutions to Try 

Like the Negroni, the boulevardier has very specific ingredients and proportions, but there's still room to experiment and play around. 

  • The original recipe calls for bourbon, but you can use rye whiskey for a firmer bite.
  • Include a splash to ½ ounce of orange liqueur to incorporate some citrus notes.
  • Experiment with different ingredient ratios, but limit yourself to a ratio of 2:1:1.
  • Add a drop or two of orange, lemon, or grapefruit bitters for additional citrus flavor without any extra sweetness.
  • Try scotch, or a ½ ounce each of whiskey and scotch, for a smokey flavor.

Boulevardier Garnishes to Dress Things Up 

If you don't have an orange peel readily available or you want to step outside of the box, we've got a few garnish options for you to try. 

  • Double up on the citrus notes by using two citrus peels. Express one peel over the drink by twisting it between your fingers, then run the colorful outside (not the inner white pith) along the rim before discarding it. Express the second peel over the glass and leave it in the drink. 
  • Use an orange wheel or slice for strong citrus notes.
  • Make an orange ribbon, either narrow or wide, for a playful-looking garnish.
  • Consider adding a dehydrated citrus wheel. You can pick either orange, lemon, or lime since it won't affect the cocktail's overall flavor. 

Paint the Town With a Boulevardier

Instead of perusing the bar menu or taking recommendations from the barfly sitting next to you, give a boulevardier a try. Its bitter notes are remarkably unique and the bourbon or rye makes for a rich and oaky ending to balance it all out. One sip and you'll be sold on this one for life. 

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From Paris With Love: The Little-Known Boulevardier Cocktail