I didn’t entitle this post with a “Negroni Variations,” because technically it isn’t, although it has two of the same ingredients and follows the same general formula.
This is a drink that I think should get a lot more attention than it does, ’cause it’s damned good. It isn’t a Negroni variation per se, as it developed quite independently from that drink, but fits in with them quite nicely. As Dr. Cocktail said in the above link, “The Boulevardier … appeared in Harry [McElhone]’s 1927 bar guide, Barflies and Cocktails … Obviously, this is a Negroni with bourbon in lieu of gin. The Negroni, however, would not see print for another 20 years, and Americans had never heard of Campari in 1927.”
THE BOULEVARDIER COCKTAIL
1-1/2 ounces Bourbon whiskey
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth.
Stir and strain. Garnish with orange slice, lemon twist or cherry at your discretion.
Ask for it by name!
Finally, here’s a variation on that which came about one night when bartender Chris Day and I were talking about cocktails in Google Chat. Our Boulevardier and Funky Negroni got together and had a demon spawn, which is actually amazingly good.
The conversation went something like this: I wanted a stiff drink, something with Stagg Bourbon. Chris and I had been talking about Smith & Cross rum. As I was musing about mixing Smith & Cross and Stagg, Chris said almost simultaneously, “Try a Boulevardier with a Smith & Cross float.” My eyes lit up and I said, “A STAGG Boulevardier!” He said, “Oh god, what have I done?” (AWESOMENESS, that’s what you’ve done!)
George T. Stagg Bourbon is arguably the best Bourbon on the planet. It’s certainly my special favorite, so full of flavor that it makes your head spin … quite literally. This is because Stagg is also barrel proof, slightly varying in proof each year but is generally around 144 proof. That’s 72% alcohol, kids — not to be trifled with. It’s a bit hot to drink neat — you might want to add a bit of cool water — but it mixes amazingly well. Given its strength proportions almost always have to be adjusted, but this gets easier with practice.
I wondered if the strength of this whiskey would overwhelm the Campari, but when I tried it with equal proportions I didn’t like it as much. The Campari is still there in the standard Boulevardier proportion, but it’s less assertive. That said, Wes and I both preferred the version below. “The other one was perfectly fine,” Wes said, “but this one … this is the one that makes you pound on the table, say ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck!’ and order it again.” Your mileage may vary; try it 1:1:1 if you like, and see if you like it. Justin Burrow in Houston said, “That drink should be called the ‘Naptime.’” That gave me the idea to call it this:
BOULEVARD DES RÊVES
1-1/2 ounces George T. Stagg Bourbon
1 ounce Carpano Antica
1 ounce Campari
1/4 ounce Smith & Cross rum
Combine the first 3 ingredients with ice, stir and strain into a chilled coupe. Float Smith and Cross onto the surface of the drink. Lemon peel garnish.
Make sure someone else is driving you if you have this one.
And with that, our little series on Negroni variations comes to an end. This should give you plenty of stuff to try at home or in your favorite bar, as they should be pretty easy to order (i.e., “Genever Negroni,” “Stagg Boulevardier with a Smith & Cross float,” etc.). So, give ‘em a try!