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12 Extraordinary Facts About Boulevardier

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The boulevardier is a classic cocktail that has been around since the 1920s. It’s similar to the negroni, but with bourbon instead of gin. Here are 12 fascinating facts about the history, ingredients, and culture surrounding this iconic drink:


The boulevardier has seen a revival in recent years as people discover this lesser-known cousin of the negroni. Bourbon adds a sweet, smooth flavor that makes the boulevardier incredibly easy-drinking despite the equal parts bitter Campari. Dive into the rich stories behind one of the most enduring cocktails.

Facts About Boulevardier Cocktail

Facts About Boulevardier Cocktail
  1. The boulevardier was invented in 1920s Paris. The cocktail was created by Erskine Gwynne, an American expatriate who founded a monthly magazine in Paris called Boulevardier. He supposedly came up with the drink’s recipe and named it after his magazine.
  2. It’s a bourbon negroni.┬áThe boulevardier contains the same ingredients as the negroni – Campari, sweet vermouth, and a base spirit. The only difference is it substitutes bourbon for gin. The bourbon adds more sweetness and warmth.
  3. The proportions are always equal. A proper boulevardier sticks to equal 1-ounce pours of bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Deviating too far from equal parts alters the flavor balance.
  4. Campari adds a bold, bitter flavor. Campari is an Italian herbal liqueur that gives the boulevardier its signature bitter, complex flavor. Its bright red color also makes the cocktail visually striking.
  5. It was originally made with rye whiskey. Early recipes for the boulevardier from the 1920s and 30s called for Canadian rye whiskey instead of bourbon. Rye was much more widely available during Prohibition.
  6. The boulevardier likely originated from the Americano. Its nearly identical ingredients point to the Americano as the inspiration. The Americano mixes Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water.
  7. It’s often garnished with an orange twist. Expressing oils from an orange peel highlights the citrus notes while adding a nice aroma. Brandied cherries also complement the bourbon.
  8. Ernest Hemingway was a fan. Hemingway mentioned the boulevardier in his first novel, The Sun Also Rises. The character Mike Campbell orders it in a Parisian bar.
  9. Orson Welles claimed to have invented it. In an advertisement for Bourbon whiskey in the 1940s, Welles bragged of creating the boulevardier cocktail. This is unverified, but he certainly enjoyed the drink.
  10. It’s perfect before or after dinner. The boulevardier makes an ideal aperitif to stimulate the appetite pre-dinner thanks to the bitter Campari. It also excels as a digestif.
  11. There’s a boulevardier variation called the Old Pal. This clever twist adds rye whiskey instead of bourbon. The name refers to the “old pals” of American journalists in 1920s Paris.
  12. Mad Men brought it back into popularity. Featured in an episode of the hit TV series, Don Draper made the boulevardier fashionable again. Viewers were eager to try Don’s sophisticated cocktail of choice.


The boulevardier has a rich history intertwined with American writers and journalists in 1920s Parisian bars. Its balance of bitter and sweet with a smooth bourbon base makes for an intriguing yet easy drinking cocktail. Give the classic boulevardier a taste to appreciate its enduring allure. Discover why it has enthralled so many generations.

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