16 October 2009

Halloween Cocktail: Boulevardier

In France, a boulevardier is a man-about-town, a gentleman who enjoys strolling along the street and visiting the most fashionable locales. It's also a classic cocktail that falls between the Negroni and Manhattan in composition and flavor.

In anticipation of Halloween, I wanted to suggest a good cocktail that would pour well into a novelty glass like my new $1.99 Champagne flute pictured here*. The Campari gives it such a lovely blood red color. And if you decide to dress up like Robert Smith or another member of The Cure, please try not to get your black lipstick all over the glass. It's a real pain to clean off.

The Boulevardier
1 part Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
1 part Campari
1 part Sweet Red Vermouth

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice; stir and strain to serve.

The Campari is balanced out well by the other two ingredients (Red Vermouth will smooth out anything), and it's a very enjoyable if somewhat strong cocktail. Those particularly sensitive to bitter flavors (such as six year old girls) may wish to dial back the Campari a bit, but that's totally your call. I won't question your manliness, and I promise not to call you Princess and ask to see your collection of My Little Ponies if you're afraid of Campari. I'm sure there's a wine cooler or Smirnoff Ice around here somewhere that will be easier on your palate, Tinkerbell.

Bourbon vs. Rye? Paul Clarke weighed in on this, and he seems to prefer the Rye. My opinion? Both versions are quite good, but the Bourbon one is sweeter and the Rye is spicier. Also, since Rye is a little harder to come by and often more expensive, you may wish to save it for cocktail aficionados.

*Typically there are public Champagne tastings as Christmas approaches... I am so tempted to carry this glass with me to one of those events.


fredric koeppel said...

i will never make the pursed lips and Xs-for-eyes reaction to Campari again. never.

Benito said...


It's part of my one-man campaign to stand athwart the tide of ever-sweetening American cuisine yelling "Stop!" Bitter flavors have been disappearing for years, either omitted or covered up with sugar. Starbucks has made a fortune by masking the naturally bitter flavor of coffee.

It wouldn't surprise me to see less bitter varieties of radicchio and escarole in the future, with the flavors numbed down until they're indistinguishable from iceberg lettuce.

If you think I'm crazy, try to find an unsweetened soft drink. I'm not talking about sugar or corn syrup--there are loads of natural and artificial sweeteners. Even the "natural" fruit juices are often boosted with syrupy pear concentrate, for example.

For this trend I largely blame the Umayyad conquest of Spain in the 8th century, but that's a longer story for another day.


fredric koeppel said...

this is a worthy endeavor. surely you can post a rant to the blog on this subject. i, for one, am against the tendency of chefs to serve red meat entrees with sweet fruity sauces. there was a chef in town that did this so much that I couldn't eat in her restaurant; it was like having main course and dessert on the same plate. of course corn syrup is a great evil; it's in everything from canned goods to bottled salad dressings, which is one reason why I always make our vinaigrettes.

Benito said...

Next up: Benito tackles ranch dressing.

"It's not that I won't eat it, it's a basic buttermilk dressing. I just don't see why every restaurant has to carry barrels of it so that every food item can be dipped in, covered with, or otherwise soaked in ranch."

Samantha Dugan said...

Benito, my sweet lil' buddy, that glass...um, let's just say if you came at me with that at one of my tastings I would stare at you flatly and say, "No".

Unknown said...


Even if I were wearing a vintage Iron Maiden t-shirt and rocking out with the horns up? ;)


Samantha Dugan said...

Well, maybe then...

Peter Conway said...


I appreciate your efforts, I could not live without my bitters. They are an essential element to our cocktail hours.

Thanks for the review on Fee Brothers, I am goign to seek them out.

Great blog.