Clinton Cawood comes with a potted history of this Negroni-like whiskey classic. 

The Boulevardier might seem little more than a twist on the Negroni, with bourbon standing in for gin as the base spirit. Yet, somehow, this classic emerged separately, quite far from the Negroni’s birthplace of Florence, in Paris.

It was here that American socialite Erskine Gwynne took time from his various expat exploits to start up a magazine entitled Le Boulevardier, after the name given to the wealthy bon vivants who frequented the boulevards.

In 1927, the same year the magazine launched, bartender Harry McElhone, said to be a friend of Gwynne’s, published his book Barflies & Cocktails. The Boulevardier didn’t make it into the main list of cocktails in the book, but is rather mentioned in a section entitled Cocktails Round Town, by Arthur Moss – who was among those behind Le Boulevardier.

In his chapter, Moss lists the cocktail inventions of a number of so-called ‘men-about-town”. He writes “Now is the time for all good Barflies to come to the aid of the party, since Erskinne [sic] Gwynne crashed in with his Boulevardier Cocktail; 1/3 Campari, 1/3 Italian Vermouth, 1/3 Bourbon whiskey.”

Incidentally, the same passage contains what is likely to be the first mention in print of a Cosmopolitan Cocktail, although it bears no resemblance to the drink favoured by Sarah Jessica Parker and her crew. Beyond their distinct origin stories, the Boulevardier and the Negroni are remarkably different drinks, despite sharing all but one ingredient.

While the latter is the quintessential aperitivo, the Boulevardier transcends time of day. And while its Italian counterpart is most often found in equal-parts proportions on the rocks, the Boulevardier sees more variation, with some increasing the proportion of whiskey, while others elect to serve it up.

You can’t go wrong switching out the bourbon for rye, or considering McElhone’s Old Pal, which combines rye, Campari and dry vermouth.