Once upon a time, I pretended to be a world traveler. In my mind’s eye I lounged at a cobblestone cafe off the beaten path in Florence, Italy, in a white eyelet cotton dress, straw fedora, Jackie O sunglasses, and gladiator sandals. I ordered the classic Italian apéritif, the Negroni, named after Count Camillo Negroni. With a “Sì” and a satisfied nod of his head, my waiter trounced off to the bar to put my order in. Minutes later he reappeared and with a flourish placed the classic Italian apéritif in front of me. I took a sip, and promptly spit it out.
Confession time: I actually once tried the Negroni to share my experience with you all here. However, I sat at my basement bar and didn’t don an airy dress; rather, I slugged it out in my typical weekend comfy clothes, and I poured that drink into the drain after one failed sip. I love me some bitter in my cocktails, but I simply could not gag it down.
The allure of the Negroni not lost on me, I recently created a list of classic cocktails to try, and lo and behold – the Negroni made the list for a re-try. But while researching the classics I came across the Negroni’s cousin – the Boulevardier. Also composed with Campari and sweet vermouth, the Boulevardier uses rye whiskey as the base alcohol, and it’s not far from a Manhattan – a cocktail that I really enjoy.
I’ve also learned a thing or two since my fateful, inaugural Negroni effort – the quality of your sweet vermouth really, truly matters. If I can’t have Anitca Formula as the sweet vermouth in my cocktails, then I’ll switch to something else.
I positively cannot stress enough: The ingredients in your cocktails really matter! Especially when only three of them land in the glass.
Last weekend I dipped my toe in the bitter world of the Boulevardier. Then I drank another. Mid week I sipped a third. Normally I’m detoxing in January, but the moderation of December is leaving all kinds of new cocktailing possibilities to my disposal this month. Perhaps I’ll dial it back in February. But with seven additional classics on my list, not to mention 5-6 homemade shrubs and syrups I’m daydreaming about, it’s doubtful.
I hope this new year finds the same old you. I don’t want new yous. I like the old ones – flaws, imperfections, vices and all. Here’s to a resolution-less 2018. Raise a Boulevardier (I challenge you not to say that fun word 50 times while you sip it) and holler “Salute!” with me to old habits that I hope never die.
- 1.5 oz rye whiskey (I enjoyed mine with Journeyman Rye)
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz sweet vermouth (DON'T SKIMP! I recommend Antico Formula)
- Optional garnish: Cherry or orange zest
- Combine the ingredients with ice in an old fashioned glass, and garnish with a cherry or orange twist, if desired.