The Boulevardier, or an Example of Prohibition’s Great Big Melting Pot

The Boulevardier CocktailProhibition, despite it’s ban on spirits, is actually the best thing that ever happened to American cocktails.  Cocktails had become boring, with just a few standard combinations using a small variety of spirits.  With the rebirth of the cocktail in Prohibition and the experimentation with European spirits, many new drinks were created; few more noteworthy than the Boulevardier.

The Boulevardier
  • 1.5 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Sweet Red Vermouth
  • garnish with an orange slice, lemon twist, or cherry

Pour all of the ingredients into a mixing glass over ice, then stir until the spirits combine and are chilled completely.  Don’t stir too hard or fast, because you will risk breaking off flakes of ice in the same manner you would by shaking a cocktail.  Once stirred, you have two choices, as the Boulevardier can be served up in a cocktail glass or on the rocks in an old fashioned glass.  In a dinner setting I usually choose to serve the cocktail up, while if drinking and chatting with friends I will usually serve it on the rocks.  Once you decide which glass you would like to serve it in, strain the cocktail and garnish with an orange slice, lemon twist, or cherry.  I generally pair the garnish to the type of bourbon I am using as the garnishes will alter the taste of the cocktail slight with their juices.

Now for a bit of history surrounding this cocktail.When the Volstead act was passed, many spirit loving Americans decided that this was their cue to relocate for a bit to Europe, where the idea of banning alcohol was a foreign as traveling to space.  One such individual was Harry McElhone, former bartender at the New York Plaza Hotel bar and the future author of the seminal work Barflies and Cocktails (1927).  After first traveling to London, he eventually ended in Paris where he founded Harry’s New York Bar.  Harry, who was well versed in American pre-Prohibition cocktails, thrived in Europe where he had new access to exotic spirits and aperitifs such as Campari which he had never dreamed up in the states.  One of his many inventions was the Boulevardier, a wonderful twist on the classic Negroni which substituted good old American bourbon for the usual gin.

Total cost per drink? ~$1.60

Posted in Aperitif, Bourbon, Cheap Cocktails, Vermouth
One comment on “The Boulevardier, or an Example of Prohibition’s Great Big Melting Pot
  1. […] great drink is a delicious, season appropriate nod to the classic boulevardier cocktail.  The strength of the rye and the bitter-sweetness of the Campari blend well with the sweet […]

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Nick McAfee
Nick McAfee is a student of Princeton University and is passionate about mixology. As a student with a low monthly income, he has developed ways to create simple cocktails with complex flavors from inexpensive ingredients. Learn more about Nick and Broke & Thirsty.
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