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Drink of the Week:

Text and illustrations copyright Craig Mrusek Illustration & Design

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 (IĎm 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. Iím a fan of the Negroni, so I figured Iíd 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 ďrosy-rustĒ- 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 itís distinctive taste, but thereís 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, itís a great drink. And if itís further incentive, itís yet another drink Iíd put in that category of ďwhiskey drinks for people who donít like whiskey.Ē I used to be one of those people, and it didnít take much to convert me. If Iíd had a Boulevardier at a key moment, it would have taken even less.

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