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Bottoms up: How Do You Drink a Boulevardier?

Do you consider yourself to be daring in the drink department? Or do you favour classic, rich drinks?

Some cocktails are reminiscent on summer days at the beach or your favourite holiday with friends.

Other cocktails, though, have glimmers of a different era. These drinks pull you in with their history and sophistication.

But, where do you find the drinks that are shrouded in elegance?

A good place to start is with a Boulevardier!

What is a Boulevardier?

Other than a smooth cocktail, “boulevardier” is a French word that originated in the late 1800s.

Loosely, the word translates to, “a man about town”. But, other connotations include someone worldly, curious, and witty. All of these terms describe the men who coined the cocktail in the 1920s.

The Boulevardier drink embodies all of these elements as well.

Though, there are two suggestions of where the drink originated.

One story states that Erskine Gwynne, the publisher of a magazine named “Boulevardier” was the first to come up with the drink.

But, others contend that US expatriate Harry MacElhone was the reason for the cocktail’s fame. MacElhone highlighted the Boulevardier in his book Barflies and Cocktails and featured it in his Parisian bar.

Thankfully, we now get to reap the benefits of these men’s creativity in the drink department. Knowing the history of this drink can also heighten your appreciation of what goes into creating it.

Frequently compared to the Negroni, the Boulevardier uses a bitter aperitif and sweet vermouth. Both drinks also have a traditional 1 oz. pour for each of the ingredients. This ensures that the cocktail is balanced.

The difference in the Negroni and the Boulevardier, though? The liquor that brings the drink to life.

Negronis call on gin for its light and boozy feel, making it a great all-rounder regardless of the season.

For cooler months, though, you’ll want something to warm you up. This is when the Boulevardier becomes your go-to winter drink!

Being an American classic, the Boulevardier uses either bourbon for its oak and caramel notes or rye for the spice. Each of these vivid options gives you an elevated sipping experience.

Plus, many bartenders and distillers prefer a heavier pour for the whisky in Boulevardiers.

What is the Best Whisky for a Boulevardier?

Unfortunately, not all whiskies are the same. This means you’ll need to choose carefully when selecting a spirit for your boulevardier.

First, think about the types of cocktails you prefer.

Are they bitter? Or smooth?

Do you like drinks with a punch or ones that slide right on down?

Choosing your whisky is when you get to make this call.

Keep in mind, there are only three ingredients to a boulevardier:

  • A bitter aperitif
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Whisky, such as bourbon or rye

Because there are so few components, each item brings a lot to the table. You’ll want to make sure you choose a high-quality whisky for a high-quality Boulevardier.

The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a whisky is to find one filled with flavour.

Since Boulevardiers were made common by bartender extraordinaire Harry MacElhone, you could consider these American offerings:

  • Four Roses
  • Woodford Reserve
  • Knob Creek
  • Wild Turkey
  • Maker’s Mark

Or, you can always go with your favourite small-batch, local Australian whisky or rye!

And, if you try the bourbon, give rye whisky a try as well. It has a different profile than bourbon but still qualifies as a Boulevardier.

How to Make a Boulevardier

To begin, you’ll need these things on hand:

  • A bitter aperitif, like Campari or VEVE
  • A sweet vermouth
  • Bourbon or rye whisky
  • Ice
  • Mixing glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Strainer
  • Coupe Cocktail Glass
  • Jigger or 1 oz measuring spoon
  • Orange zest

To make the drink:

  1. Grab your mixing glass. This can be any glass or cup you have on hand. Fill your glass with ice.
  2. Measure out 1 oz. of the bitter aperitif and 1 oz of the sweet vermouth. Pour each of them in your glass.
  3. Measure out your whisky. Traditionally, 1 oz is the standard. To have a warmer, deeper drink, add a little more whisky. Pour this in your glass.
  4. Stir your drink with your bar spoon at the bottom of the glass, stirring for around 30 seconds or until condensation forms on the glass.
  5. Set your bar spoon aside and grab your strainer. Set the strainer over your mixing glass.
  6. Strain your cocktail into your coupe glass or for a less pungent drink, try serving your cocktail in an old fashioned glass over ice.
  7. Add orange zest for garnish!

You’ve successfully made a Boulevardier!

A Few Notes:

Now that you know how to make a boulevardier for yourself, you can work on your refinement of this craft.

You’ll need to make sure you stir the drink and not shake it. Stirring the cocktail allows a bit of ice to melt into the mixture. This helps blend the liquids into your cocktail and create the right temperature for drinking.

Shaking creates cloudiness in the drink and is usually saved for drinks with juice. Since the Boulevardier uses clear ingredients, it should have a pure appearance, too.

It’s traditional to serve your creation in a coupe glass. This is a classic cocktail glass for drinks that are not served over ice. The stem helps to prevent warming from your hands.

Be Your Own Bartender

Though you can order this drink at almost any bar, you are now equipped with the knowledge to make this drink at home. You can amaze your friends and family, not only with your drink-making skills but also with the background of this classic beverage.

The simplest way to learn how to make this fancy, stirred cocktail is by ordering a boulevardier cocktail kit. Having ready-to-use ingredients and simple instructions in a kit will help you build your confidence in the mixology world.

And as a final thought, a Boulevardier cocktail kit from The Cocktail Shop would make a fantastic birthday or anniversary gift for any whisky loving friend!


Get cocktails and bar accessories delivered to your door and enjoy quality cocktails at home. Learn to mix your own with our stylish barware and all Australian cocktail kits. Shipping Australia-wide is just $10 on all orders through The Cocktail Shop.


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