6 Delicious Spins on the Boulevardier, the Chic Retro Cocktail You Should Get to Know Better

6 Delicious Spins on the Boulevardier, the Chic Retro Cocktail You Should Get to Know Better

If you love a Negroni, check out the drink's fabulous but lesser-known cousin.

By Marcy de Luna

Take the classic Negroni (gin, vermouth, Campari), swap out the gin for bourbon, and you get the Boulevardier—a drink that dates at least as far back as the 1920s but never got nearly as famous as the Negroni. But the Boulevardier is a favorite of bartenders, who are adding their own twists on the drink at bars coast to coast. Here are six to try right now, plus a recipe for your next cocktail party.

The Devil’s Right Hand

Where: The Bar Downstairs/Andaz 5th Avenue, New York City

What: Rye whiskey, mezcal, Italian red vermouth, orange Italian aperitif, mole bitters.

How: This cocktail is inspired by a variation of a Boulevardier cocktail called the Left Hand (essentially a rye Negroni with mole bitters). "And 'The Devil’s Right Hand' is the title of a Johnny Cash song,” says Shane McGowan, head bartender. Photo courtesy of The Bar Downstairs.

Boulevardier de Salvo

Where: Eight Row Flint, Houston

What: Overproof bourbon, white-wine-based aperitif, bitter apéritif liqueur, Italian sweet vermouth, bitter grapefruit aperitif, Italian artichoke-based liqueur, bittersweet liqueur.

How: "We wanted to develop a Boulevardier that didn't rely on Campari, not because we don't like Campari, but just to see if we could pull it off without sacrificing the bitter that we love," says co-owner Morgan Weber. "Once we were happy with the flavor and balance, we felt it only appropriate to brighten it up by carbonating the whole drink." Photo by Morgan Weber.

Aperitivo #1

Where: GreenRiver, Chicago

What: Italian dessert wine, whiskey, blackberry liqueur, absinthe.

How: Dessert wine gets subbed in for the Campari, and rye whiskey for traditional bourbon. "The addition of blackberry liqueur imparts a sweet note,” says head bartender Julia Momose. Photo by Kailley Lindman.

Saltie Boulevardier

Where: Saltie Girl

What: Rye whiskey, Campari, sweet vermouth.

How: Bar manager Lehena Leplus’s version of a Boulevardier uses pineapple-infused Campari and a garnish of housemade blood orange Campari jelly. Photo courtesy of Saltie Girl.

Frozen Boulevardier

Where: Pier 6, Boston

What: Whiskey single barrel rye, Campari, sweet vermouth.

How: “Instead of stirring all the ingredients with ice cubes, we simply add crushed or shaved ice" to make this frozen treat, says bar manager Eli Shapiro. Photo courtesy of Pier 6.

Lindsay Park

Where: The Townsend, Austin

What: Rye, Cynar, dry vermouth, cardamom bitters.

How: The Lindsay Park shakes things up by swapping rye whiskey for bourbon, amaro for Campari and dry vermouth for sweet. A dash of cardamom bitters adds the finishing touch in this twist, a "hot, spicy, bitter beast," as food and beverage wrangler Justin Elliott calls it.  The inspiration for the drink "came out of a process of highlighting the grassy, peppery, spicy notes in a good rye whiskey,” adds Elliiott. Photo by Julia Keim.

Lindsay Park recipe: 

1.5 oz Wild Turkey 101 Rye

.75 oz Cynar 70

.75 oz Dolin dry vermouth

8 drops Cardamom bitters (available online)

Stir and strain all the ingredients over the top of a single, giant ice cube in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

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