The Boulevardier Cocktail

The Boulevardier Cocktail

The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
223 Calories
0g Fat
12g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 223
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 29mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Boulevardier is a sophisticated and classic cocktail that is sometimes referred to as a whiskey Negroni. However, the Boulevardier cocktail may have predated the Negroni, though (as is common in the cocktail world) the exact dates of creation for both drinks are a little sketchy. 

It is true that the Negroni is the better known of the two drinks and that they differ from each other by base spirit alone. Both include sweet vermouth and Campari and while the Negroni uses gin, the Boulevardier opts for whiskey, specifically bourbon. 

The vermouth and Campari make it a natural choice as an aperitif and has a subtle combination of flavor that is very pleasant. A host could easily offer the option of both the Negroni and Boulevardier at any dinner party and please the taste of both gin- and whiskey-loving guests.

"The Boulevardier is a well-established cocktail with great versatility. It captures the mouthfeel and boldness of a Manhattan and incorporates the acidity, dryness, and bitterness of Campari. This recipe showcases the balance achieved when the right ratio of ingredients is applied. Always keep this recipe in your back pocket. It will perpetually come in handy." —Sean Johnson

The Boulevardier Cocktail Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    The Boulevardier Cocktail ingredients

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

  2. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice.

    cocktail ingredients in a pitcher with ice

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

  3. Stir vigorously for 30 seconds.

    stir the cocktail ingredients in the pitcher

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. The drink can be served up or on the rocks.

    Strain the cocktail into a chilled cocktail glass

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

  5. Garnish with an orange twist.

    The Boulevardier Cocktail garnished with an orange twist

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

How Strong Is the Boulevardier?

If we were to mix the Boulevardier with an 80-proof bourbon and a 30-proof vermouth, the finished drink would be approximately 25 percent ABV (50 proof).

The History of The Boulevardier

The Boulevardier was first published in the 1920's bar book, "ABC of Mixing Cocktails," by the renowned bartender Harry MacElhone. It also appeared in his 1927 book, "Barflies, and Cocktails."

MacElhone was one of the many American bartenders who fled the United States during Prohibition, and he is most famous for his work at the Paris hotspot, Harry's New York Bar. Not only did this exodus of bartenders to Europe promote the fine cocktails being made in the U.S., but it also introduced the expatriates to new spirits.

Campari was one of those that had not yet made it to America's shores, and once bartenders like MacElhone got a hold of it great things happened. The Boulevardier was just one of those now-iconic cocktails.

The story goes that MacElhone first mixed this cocktail up for a man named Erskine Gwynne, publisher of the Paris magazine, Boulevardier, a wealthy socialite, and related to the Vanderbilt family. Also an expatriate, it may have been Gwynne who actually came to Harry's with the Boulevardier recipe. As MacElhone writes in "Barflies and Cocktails," “Now is the time for all good barflies to come to the aid of the party since Erskine Gwynne crashed in with his Boulevardier Cocktail: 1/3 Campari, 1/3 Italian vermouth, 1/3 Bourbon whisky.”

Notice that the ingredients were in equal proportion. Since that time, the recipe has been adapted to what some may call a more palatable recipe (the one listed above). Modern bartenders continue to tweak the recipe, and that's a good way to find your own ideal Boulevardier.

How to Make Boulevardiers for a Crowd

  1. Make one cocktail and measure its volume in ounces before and after stirring with ice and straining. The difference between the numbers is the amount of water that is incorporated into the drink.
  2. Multiply each ingredient, including the water, by the number of servings you want to batch.
  3. Use the resulting numbers to help you figure out how many bottles of each ingredient you'll need to buy. Remember that alcohol is usually sold in 750mL bottles. 750mL is approximately 25 1/4 ounces.
  4. Once you have your ingredients, measure them out according to the math you did in step 2.
  5. Mix the ingredients together, place in a serving vessel, and chill well.
  6. To serve, measure out the amount of cocktail you recorded in step 1 after being stirred with ice and strained.

Read more about batching cocktails here.