File this under “delayed reaction.”

I first read about the Boulevardier in the spring, when Dr. Cocktail did a lovely writeup about it in Imbibe. I distinctly remember reading the column and thinking, “hmm…gotta give that a try when I’m in a Campari mood.” I turned the page, and immediately lost the drink somewhere in the murky reaches of my brain.

Fast forward to last night. Sitting at the bar at Zig Zag, staring at an empty coaster where a full cocktail glass should be, I eventually looked at Murray and said “Rye?” with a shrug. This is what he came back with, and I thought, “Good god, what have I been missing!”

Okay, the recipe calls for bourbon, but hey, what’s a little corn – rye substitution between friends? Doc credits this drink to Harry McElhone, who wrote it up in Barflies and Cocktails — which shall henceforth be known as “one of those rare books I never see for sale, and couldn’t afford to buy if I ever came across” — and notes its similarity to a Negroni (swap the whiskey for some gin and, ta-da!), while also noting that it predates published recipes for the Negroni by a good 20 years. It’s also pretty close in spirit to another rye/Campari concoction called the Old Pal, but the Boulevardier has, in my estimation, much more charm.

If only I were to luck into a copy of Barflies and Cocktails so easily.


  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon (or rye)
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth

Stir with cracked ice & strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry, or a lemon twist, or an orange slice, or a copy of Barflies and Cocktails wrapped in a manila envelope with my address on the outside.

21 Responses to Boulevardier

  1. In my opinion the single best thing about the Boulevardier, is its amazing availability. I have managed to get a serviceable version from a airport, a bowling alley and even a hipster tavern without batting an eye.

    The only downside is the name really, people look at you like your trying to make something up.

  2. I suppose it depends on your personal taste, but for me the combination of Campari and Punt E Mes would be a bit too intense. The Campari brings plenty of bitterness to the drink; in this role, the sweet vermouth helps lighten the blow.

  3. ok, i haven’t tried paul’s recipe yet, but it seemed on looking at the recipe that it would benefit from a stronger whiskey presence. i just made one with a 1:1:2, instead of paul’s 2:2:3 ratio & i must say, it’s mighty tasty.


  4. Something to try:
    substitute Punt e Mes for the vermouth and Aperol for the Campari. Credit to Lance Mayhew and his Spagnuolo.

  5. I love this drink! I’ve tried it with bourbon (Bulleit,) with rye (Old Overholt, and a 1:1 mixture of the two. I’ve also experimented with dry and sweet vermouth. (I liked the dry better with bourbon and the sweet with rye.) I agree with those calling for a stronger whiskey presence. My favorite variation so far restrains the Campari to 3/4 oz, to which I add 1 oz bourbon, 1 oz Rye and 1 oz vermouth (sweet or dry depending on my mood.) I’m eager to try a boulevardier with a hotter bourbon as suggested.

  6. Ha! That’s awesome – I was at The Zag on Friday, and after having my Negroni and Trident, I told Murray he could make me something. He came back with the Boulevardier! I asked him to write the recipe down for me, and was happy to see I already possessed all the necessary ingredients to make one at home.

    Long live Murray, Casey, and The Zig Zag.

  7. I’ve been mixing this with 1 part aperol, 1 part sweet vermouth, 2 parts rye, and some bitters, and it’s fantastic that way.

    Also good if you toss in an egg: It becomes creamy and opaque.

  8. I found this post while searching for drinks similar to a drink I just made.

    2oz brandy
    1oz sweet vermouth
    .75oz Campari
    2 dashes orange bitters (I used Fee’s)
    dash Peychaud’s bitters

    Stir, serve up. Add an orange peel garnish if you desire.

    Curious to hear your (or anyone’s) thoughts; I don’t recall seeing a brandy and Campari drink before and this one is worth exploring and refining I think.

  9. I enjoy the balance of bitter Campari and sweet vermouth with a top shelf Bourbon. Perfect cocktail.

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