Friday, February 29, 2008

Kinda like a Negroni...kinda like a Manhattan...


The Boulevardier

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!


Dr.Cocktail said...

And to think I just happened upon this today. And to think, this is proof positive somebody reads my Imbibe column. And to tastebuds must not be the total whack-jobs I sometimes suspect. Thanky, thanky! --Doc.

nerdling said...

Hah! Figures I have to follow Doc up in the comments.

So how did the Bulleit go for you? I'm waiting for your review! (And nice illustration, BTW!)

Dr. Bamboo said...

Doc- Proof positive indeed! Your column is the first thing I read (except fot the contents page ;-) when the new issue arrives.
Thanks for stopping by!

Marleigh- I really like the Bulleit...It was a lot smoother than I expected. Plus, it's got a high rye content, which makes me happy. It's definitely a contender for my "everyday" Bourbon.

Anonymous said...

Definitely third the love of Bulleit. Not sure if it's my favorite, but I'm happy to buy it again and again. This cocktail, despite being delicious, is striking. The Campari offers a beautiful antique red that few cocktails can achieve.

Dr.Cocktail said...

I agree. Bulleit: smooth, yet not pandering. I was afraid it would be.....sweet. Whew!

Sir of the Tropical Wood, again my thanks. As Marleigh will attest, I am hardly the most social thing on the planet and any goodwill I get I appreciate. we should talk about getting your illo prowess into my next book.

Marleigh? We must again try to do what we could not do mit der Angus. Marco is elsewhere. I'll give you my info on this if you lack it.

Dr. T & the Cocktails

nerdling said...

After all these pro-Bulleit endorsements, I'll have to pick up a bottle.

Doc, check yr email. Marco? Gone? Noooo!

keith waldbauer said...

Glad you discovered this little gem. I whip these up at the bar now and then and they go over quite well. I usually dip toward the Woodford on this one, but I'll try it with Bulleit. And Doc, you are far too humble. I too flip toward your column first thing...

Dr. Bamboo said...

Keith- that'll be good incentive for me to pick up some Woodford! (not that I wasn't planning on getting some sooner or later anyway... ;-)

Anonymous said...

what a wonderfully libran illustration! said...

Wow - I'm trying this drink asap!

Ouroboros said...

I see that you and Keith W have met, but I'll provide this bit of stitching between the two diferent shades of the Manhattan: this Boulvardier and the Little Italy given on his blog: