Boulevardier Cocktail

The Boulevardier is a stunning classic cocktail! This easy three ingredient drink is the improved version of a Negroni, swapping gin for whiskey.


Oh, hello. Here’s our new favorite classic cocktail in our collection: the Boulevardier. It’s smooth, rich, spicy, bitter, and warm all at once. The vibrant red jewel tone makes it stunning to look at. It’s essentially a Negroni made with whiskey instead of gin, and wow! The sweetness of the bourbon perfectly balances the flavor. In fact, Alex and I much prefer it to the Negroni. Consider it an improvement! Here’s how to make it.

What’s in a Boulevardier?

The Boulevardier is a classic cocktail that was invented in the 1920’s. It’s a variation on the Negroni that swaps gin for whiskey. Where’s the name from from? Well, it’s thought to be invented by an American writer who founded a monthly magazine in Paris called the Boulevardier. It’s a classic cocktail that’s actually on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This means that there’s an “official” definition, which is:

  • Rye or bourbon whiskey
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Campari

How do you say Boulevardier, anyway? It’s French, so say bou-levar-dee-ay.

Boulevardier cocktail

Why we like it better than a Negroni

Of course, it’s all about personal preference when it comes to cocktails! But when Alex and I taste tested the Negroni and Boulevardier back to back, the second won with flying colors. Why?

  • Bourbon makes a rounder, more balanced flavor. We used bourbon whiskey, and noticed right away that it made a more interesting drink. The bourbon rounds out the sweet notes in the sip, making it hit all the quadrants of your tongue. Because of its rounder flavor, the Negroni tastes two-dimensional in comparison.
  • More Negroni variations? Try the Mezcal Negroni, Prosecco Negroni, White Negroni, or the Old Pal! The Old Pal is the same as the Boulevardier, using dry vermouth instead of sweet.

How to make a Boulevardier (basic steps)

The Boulevardier is a three-ingredient cocktail and is so easy to make! You don’t even need a cocktail shaker. It’s a classic stirred cocktail which you can stir together in a cocktail mixing glass, or any glass you have on hand. Here are the basic steps to make it (or go to the recipe below):

  • Mix. Place all ingredients in a mixing glass with 1 handful of ice and stir for 30 seconds. This chills the cocktail and dilutes it less than shaking in a cocktail shaker would.
  • Strain and serve. Strain into a lowball or Old Fashioned glass filled with ice.

What’s a cocktail mixing glass?

Good question. A cocktail mixing glass is used for cocktails that are stirred, not shaken in a cocktail shaker. The mixing glass dilutes the drink less than the shaker. Then it has a strainer to pour out the drink into a glass, just like a shaker.

Don’t have one? You can use any glass or container you like to mix the drink, then strain it into the serving glass. But if you want to look like someone who knows their cocktails? Then grab yourself a cocktail mixing glass.

Serve on the rocks or straight up!

You can serve the Boulevardier either on the rocks (on ice) or straight up. Here’s the glass you should use for each:

  • Straight up: The IBA official cocktails definition says that it’s served straight up in a cocktail glass. If you serve it this way, it will look more like this Manhattan.
  • On the rocks: It’s also acceptable to serve this drink on the rocks, which is what we like to do and is shown here. Then serve it in lowball or Old Fashioned glasses. (And try our Clear Ice for a stunning look.)
Bourbon whiskey

The whiskey: rye vs bourbon

You can make a Boulevardier with either rye or bourbon whiskey! Alex and I generally prefer the sweeter flavor of bourbon to the spicy flavor of rye. In this drink, we love how the bourbon rounds out the flavor profile. Of course, feel free to use whatever suits your fancy! If you have local options, this is a great way to give them a go!

In general, we prefer the taste of bourbon whiskey to rye in cocktails. We use bourbon in our Whiskey Sour, Old Fashioned and Manhattan cocktails! Which you should definitely try if you love bourbon drinks.

What is vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified wine, meaning liquor has been added to stabilize it.There are two main types of vermouth: sweet (usually red) and dry (usually white). Sweet vermouth is subtly sweet and spicy, with a hit of bitter on the back end. If you do get a bottle of vermouth, make sure to store it in the refrigerator. It will stay good there for up to 3 months.

Make it an “Old Pal”! Change the vermouth from sweet to dry in this recipe, and you’ve got the Old Pal.


All about Campari!

And what is Campari? It’s an Italian bitter and you can identify it by its bright red jewel-toned color! It’s what makes a Negroni a Negroni, and is also used in the Americano. It’s a popular liqueur and is easy to find at most liquor stores.

Because Campari is infused with different herbs and fruits (of a secret recipe), it’s hard to describe exactly what it tastes like. It’s bitter, fruity and spicy all at once! It has a very distinctive flavor: either you love it or you hate it! It can be a little too strong for me in the Negroni, which is why I prefer drinking the Boulevardier. Got a bottle of Campari? Try all these great Campari cocktails, too.


When to serve a Boulevardier cocktail

The Boulevardier cocktail is a sophisticated and complex classic cocktail. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Boulevardier Cocktail

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (11 votes, average: 4.45 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


The Boulevardier is a stunning classic cocktail! This easy three ingredient drink is the improved version of a Negroni, swapping gin for whiskey.



  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) bourbon whiskey
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) sweet or semi-sweet red vermouth
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Campari
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)
  • For the garnish: Orange peel


  1. Combine the bourbon whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Campari in a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds.
  2. Add ice to a lowball glass, and strain the drink into the glass (or you can use a cocktail glass without ice).
  3. Use a knife to remove a 1″ wide strip of the orange peel. Squeeze the orange peel into the drink to release the oils. Gently run the peel around the edge of the glass, then place it in the glass and serve.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Boulevardier, Bourbon Drink

More whiskey cocktails

We’ve got lots of great whiskey cocktail recipes for you to choose from! Here are our favorites:

  • Classic Old Fashioned The oldest cocktail there is! The classic method uses a sugar cube, bitters, and bourbon whiskey for a truly timeless drink. Or take it over the top and try it smoked.
  • Favorite Whiskey Sour Perfectly balanced and so easy to make! Or add a foam topping to make it a Boston Sour.
  • Whiskey Smash A tangy and refreshing whiskey drink with lemon juice and mint — like a citrus spin on the Mint Julep.
  • Sazerac The official cocktail of New Orleans! Cognac, whiskey and absinthe make up this famous drink. Or try La Louisiane, an even better spin on this classic.
  • Toronto Combines the depth and warmth of whiskey with the intrigue of herbal Fernet-Branca liqueur.
  • Penicillin This tasty modern classic stars Scotch, honey, lemon and ginger.
  • Vieux Carre Strong and sippable, it features whiskey, Cognac and vermouth.
  • A few others to try? Brown Derby, Kentucky MuleAlabama Slammer, or Paper Plane.
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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