The Boulevardier is a classic, three-ingredient cocktail. It's a simple drink recipe made with bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth in equal parts.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure policy here.
A Boulevardier cocktail is at once elegant, and also full of mischief. This drink a cousin to the Negroni, but swaps the gin for bourbon. It was named in honor of an American living in Paris, so the bourbon serves as that nod to the States.
Its cozy flavor tends to make you want to cuddle up to it in the fall and winter, as many bourbon drinks seem to do. At three ingredients, it's very straightforward and makes for a great batch cocktail for parties.
A Boulevardier is among those classic drinks that you can put your own spin on, adjusting the ratios and swapping things out to suit your particular whim.
History of the Boulevardier Cocktail
The Boulevardier was created at Harry's New York Bar in Paris in the early 20s. It was the signature drink of regular and barfly Erskine Gwynne, an American expat. He was the nephew of a Vanderbilt and had a notorious reputation as a man about town. For a time, he edited a New Yorker-style magazine in Paris called The Boulevardier, thus the name.
What does a Boulevardier taste like?
A Boulevardier is a drink that has a good balance of sweet and bitter. Bourbon and vermouth complement each other on the sweet side, then the Campari comes in with just enough bitterness to level it out.
Ingredients you'll need
This recipe couldn't be simpler! It only has four ingredients!
- Boubon: Choose a smooth bourbon on the sweeter side.
- Campari: There is no substitute for this one and only bitter liqueur.
- Sweet vermouth: I like a classic sweet vermouth here such as Dolin, but if you want to get creative, you could swap for your favorite amaro.
- Orange zest: For garnish.
How to make a Boulevardier cocktail
Step 1: Make the orange peel garnish
Use a vegetable peeler to cut wide strips of orange zest. Be sure to get just the orange part and none of the bitter white pith.
Step 2: Mix and chill!
In a cocktail shaker, pour the bourbon, Campari and sweet vermouth over ice and stir to chill.
Step 3: Strain and serve!
Pour through a strainer into a coupe glass, or serve on the rocks if preferred.
Garnish with the orange twist and serve.
A strip of orange zest is the classic choice, but some like to add a cocktail cherry as well.
Technically, it should be stirred. The rule is that only drinks with juice in them should be shaken. But, truly, if you like to shake it till it's icy cold, go for it.
Yes! Both are acceptable. Drink it how you like it! Do what suits your mood.
Boulevardier cocktail ingredient substitutions
- You can substitute rye for the bourbon in this drink recipe. This will make the taste a little spicier and give it a bit more bite.
- If you really want to get creative, swap the vermouth for amaro (so many choices and flavors) or port!
When to serve a Boulevardier
A Boulevardier is a cocktail that lends itself well to lots of situations!
- You can't go wrong with ordering one at happy hour.
- Serve them during cocktail hour at a dinner party.
- Drink a Boulevardier in winter for a cozy warmup. Maybe in front of a roaring fireplace?
Try these cocktails made with bourbon or Campari!
- The Negroni is the Godfather of the Boulevardier cocktail. Gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari in equal parts. So refreshing!
- A Mezcal Negroni swaps the traditional gin for mezcal. Smoky and delicious!
- The Manhattan Cocktail is another classic, three-ingredient cocktail, made with whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters.
- A Campari and Soda is a great choice if you want a lower alcohol cocktail.
- A Maple Old Fashioned is a twist on a classic, perfect for fall and winter.
Boulevardier Cocktail Recipe
- 1 oz bourbon
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- Use a vegetable peeler to cut wide strips of orange zest. Be sure to get just the orange part and none of the bitter white pith.
- Garnish with the orange zest and serve.
- Generally, a Boulevardier is equal parts of each liquor. However, many bartenders adjust the ratios to make the bourbon more prominent. You can certainly do that, add ½ ounce extra bourbon and ¼ ounce less of the other two.
- This drink can be served on the rocks, if you prefer.
- See the post above for suggestions on which brand of bourbon to use and answers to more FAQs.