Friday, February 29, 2008
Kinda like a Negroni...kinda like a Manhattan...
1 ½ oz. Bourbon (I used Bulleit)
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Sweet vermouth
Stir with ice in mixing glass and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange slice, lemon twist, or cherry.
The other night I was gripped by a desire for Bourbon (I‘m usually gripped by a desire for gin or rum, but whisk(e)y has been clamoring for my attention with alarming frequency these days). I began searching for a suitable Bourbon-centric recipe, and struck gold with the March/April 2007 issue of Imbibe. In his column, the venerable Ted Haigh (a.k.a. Dr. Cocktail) details the history and composition of the Boulevardier with his usual top-notch skill...and I was sold.
I cracked the seal on a newly-purchased bottle of Bulleit, and dove in. As the Dr. notes in his column, this is basically a Negroni using Bourbon in place of gin. I’m a fan of the Negroni, so I figured I’d still be in safe territory once I made the swap.
When this drink settles in the glass it becomes a color I can only describe as “rosy-rust”- a truly beautiful hue that makes me think it needs to be on the cover of a cocktail guide asap (All you camera-slingers out there may want to make this one just for the opportunity to take a picture of it).
After a few decent sips got me well underway, I realized my overall impression was that this drink really tastes vintage. The ingredients pull together in a flavor combination that screams early-20th century (Haigh notes that the recipe first saw print in 1927). While definitely a whiskey-based recipe, the characteristic Bourbon flavor gets masked fairly well for the most part...the Campari and vermouth tag-team it, relegating it to an end note, revealing itself mainly on the finish.
I also realized about halfway through that this drink bears a striking resemblance to the Manhattan. The Campari lends it’s distinctive taste, but there’s still no hiding the tell-tale whiskey/sweet vermouth nucleus of the Manhattan.
So is the Boulevardier a Negroni with Bourbon instead of gin? Yes. Is it a Manhattan with Campari added? Sort of. (All the Manhattan purists will no doubt be gathering with pitchforks and torches as I type this).
Either way, it’s a great drink. And if it’s further incentive, it’s yet another drink I’d put in that category of “whiskey drinks for people who don’t like whiskey.” I used to be one of those people, and it didn’t take much to convert me. If I’d had a Boulevardier at a key moment, it would have taken even less.
UPDATE: I just realized that Paul over at the Cocktail Chronicles did a great write-up on this drink where he uses rye in place of Bourbon. Go check it out!