I expected this drink to basically be a Manhattan with an additional bitter bite from the Campari. There is certainly truth in that view, but it’s also lacking. The Boulevardier is delightfully bitter like a Negroni. And, while the vermouth and bourbon flavors hint toward a Manhattan this is something deeper and, in a strange way, brighter. The orange flavor of the Campari really shines through. The result is a drink that is deep in its complexity but fruity and bright at the same time. In case it’s not clear by now, I really enjoyed this cocktail. If you’re a Manhattan lover you absolutely need to give it a try.
Despite my love, I do have some tweaks to suggest. First, let’s look at the whiskey. Captain McBoozy dropped a comment on my intro post for the week pointing back to a drink he had come up with. Turns out his recipe is a Boulevardier with a bit more bourbon. In addition to his fortuitous discovery he also had some great comments on the whiskey to use. His suggestion, in summary, is to go big or go home. Specifically try a bourbon, or other whiskey for that matter, that’s high proof. Naturally, I had to try it for myself. I started the week with Bulleit and was definitely not disappointed. Bulleit is 90 proof, so high, but not super high. Next I pulled down a higher proof whiskey, specifically Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey (94 proof). The Captain’s head was definitely in the right place with this one. The additional proof helps cut some of the sweetness of the Campari and vermouth. If I had some on hand I would have loved to go even higher, maybe some of the 105+ proof bourbons out there. Next time perhaps.
Now to the other tweakable ingredient, vermouth. I started with Cinzano. And, in all honesty, I’m not trying to piss you off McBoozy, it’s just what I had in the fridge at the time. Like with the Bulleit I wasn’t disappointed, but from the adamant, shall I say, ravings of the Captain, I picked up a bottle of Carpano Antica. Holy crap. The man is absolutely right again. Carpano makes you realize what really amazing sweet vermouth is all about. Problem is, it’s pricey, like $35+ a bottle pricey. So, I’m going to leave it with this. Use whatever sweet vermouth you like. This drink is going to be good. However, if you feel like splurging, pick up a bottle of Carpano. It will elevate this drink from good to wonderful.
Last note. As I mentioned above the Captain bumps the bourbon up to 2 oz in his recipe. I really like this change. It cuts down on the sweetness of the drink a bit. You could even bump it up a bit more to 2 1/2 oz to go even drier. Though, if you’re increasing the whiskey and going with a high proof spirit, be careful. You’ll become intimately involved with the floor quicker than you’d like.
The Boulevardier (Captain McBoozy)
2 oz Bourbon (High Proof) 1 oz Campari 1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica)
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice 2) Stir until combined and well chilled 3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass