Though it has long existed in the shadow of the more popular, cherry-hued Negroni, the Boulevardier—equal parts whiskey, sweet vermouth and Campari—has, in recent years, shed its veil of obscurity, becoming a popular call in its own right.
It’s a drink characterized by its whiskey base—originally bourbon, but more commonly rye today—and an attendant moodiness not shared by its easygoing aperitivo sibling. But much like the Negroni, it does not lack for modern interpretations, which run the gamut from floral to fruity to herbal.
One of the most widespread riffs on the blueprint is the Bananavardier, first hit upon by Terry Williams at Houston’s Anvil. As the name suggests, the key addendum comes by way of banana liqueur, which splits the Campari quotient for a fruity spin on the cocktail that has since taken on a life of its own.
Other interpretations opt instead for substitutions—whether for the vermouth or Campari—highlighting the endless adaptability of the formula. Take Alex Jump’s Another Country, for example. Sticking with the popular rye base, she calls on coffee liqueur as the bitter element, complemented by a teaspoon of carrot eau de vie, which lends a subtle vegetal note. Sam Johnson’s The Fixer likewise leans on rye, but adds a duo of herbal players—aquavit and Amaro Braulio—to complement the addition of warm-spiced barolo chinato in place of sweet vermouth.
Amaro also stars in Alex Anderson’s Midnight, the Stars and You, which sees Amaro Meletti and Amaro Sibilla team up with chamomile liqueur for a floral take on the template. In Tommy Klus’ French Connection, meanwhile, gentian-forward Avèze stands in for Campari and a lightly peated single malt Scotch replaces whiskey, for a rendition as compelling, complex and, yes, moody as the original.