Cocktail Recipe: New Year’s Boulevardier

It’s the roaring twenties all over again! At least, that’s what the internet keeps telling me. And what better way to ring in the new year than with a cocktail inspired by the classic 20s Boulevardier… only with a modern 2000s twist?

Originally created in the late 1920s in France by Erskine Gwynne, publisher of the eponymous Boulevardier magazine (whose readership was primarily American expats in Paris), the Boulevardier cocktail is basically a negroni that substitutes whiskey instead of gin. Personally, I find the Campari in either cocktail a little too bitter for my taste, so I set about trying to modernize this cocktail for a less bitter effect.

After trying some simple syrups and liquours to no real success, I raided my wife’s wine fridge. The sweet brioche flavors and carbonation of a champagne should cut through that Campari (or so I reasoned). Sure enough… success!

For the sparkling wine, I prefer Cremant de Loire as my variety of choice. Proper Champagne is perfect, but way too expensive. The Cremant de Loire appellation uses the exact same process as proper Champagne for the second fermentation (within the bottle itself, leaving the “lees” or dead yeast within the bottle during aging) which adds the flavor of brioche to the mixture. This is something lacking in sparkling wines like Prosecco, which don’t use the ‘methode champenoise’ (traditional method).

I’m using Old Grand-Dad for my whiskey, to add a touch of 1920s authenticity. This is a brand that would have been around prior to 1920 and actually continued to be produced during prohibition as “medicinal alcohol.” Made today by the Beam Suntory company in their Jim Beam distillery, it’s still a high rye bourbon with the traditional flavor profile. I also adjusted the ratios to include a bit more whiskey, because… well, I love whiskey.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 oz whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Campari
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • Sparkling wine
  1. Start by chilling a coupe glass in a freezer or adding some ice to the glass. Once the glass is properly chilled discard the ice.
  2. Add the whiskey, Campari, and sweet vermouth to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and stir quickly (shaking optional) until slightly chilled and well mixed.
  3. Once the spirits are chilled, dump the ice out of the coupe glass and pour in the contents of your shaker. Top it off with the sparkling wine, garnish with an optional lemon peel, and enjoy!

This drink should let you party like it’s 1920! Except that it’s 2020 now… and whiskey is legal… and it takes less than a week to get from New York to Paris. Progress!

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