2017 was unquestionably the year of the Negroni; it was hard to walk past a bar in London last summer and not see it listed as one of the cocktails on offer.
Invented, as the story goes, for Count Negroni in 1919 when he asked the barman to make him a stronger version of his usual Americano, the barman added gin to Campari and sweet red vermouth, and the rest is history. Unquestionably, the Negroni is a great cocktail, but it’s not to everyone’s taste given the bitterness of the Campari. If, however, you do like the bitterness of the Campari but have got a bit tired of the Negroni and want something that’s still strong with a bitter sweet kick, look no further than the Boulevardier and its whisky, Campari and sweet red vermouth.
It’s thought to have been created by Erskine Gwynne, an American writer who founded the monthly Boulevardier magazine in Paris. Replacing the gin with bourbon or rye, it’s clearly a cousin of the Negroni but don’t let that fool you, it is far more complex and interesting than its Italian relation. You still have that lovely bitterness of the Campari that mingles and plays with the sweetness of the red vermouth but, where the gin of the Negroni tends to add little but strength and crispness to the drink, the bourbon adds far more. The bourbon brings strength but also smoky warmth that makes it a far richer and more full-bodied drink. Some have called the Boulevardier an autumnal drink, and certainly it’s that, but it’s too good to have just one season a year.
Recipe (makes one large strong one)
50ml Bourbon or Rye (I suggest Elijah Craig Small Batch or if you’d rather use Whisky, Monkey Shoulder is great)
40ml Sweet Red Vermouth (Martini Rosso is fine but I suggest Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
Large peel of orange
Mix the three ingredients and serve over ice in a tumbler and garnish with a large orange peel.
If you have orange bitters a few drops adds an extra depth.