Food blog

The Boulevardier: Alton Brown’s Unforgettable Cocktail Creation

The cocktail Alton Brown swears by: A classic with a twist

Celebrity chef and culinary expert Alton Brown is known for his innovative approach to cooking and his deep appreciation for the science behind food. With a knack for reinventing classic dishes and exploring new flavors, Brown never fails to surprise and delight his audiences. And when it comes to cocktails, he has a favorite that embodies his unique style and taste. Let’s delve into the fascinating details of Alton Brown’s signature cocktail: The Boulevardier.

The Boulevardier: A Historical Perspective

The Boulevardier is a seductive cocktail that combines American bourbon or rye with Campari and sweet vermouth. It’s a drink that’s both substantial and layered, much like Alton Brown himself. Rooted in American heritage, this cocktail also incorporates fortified wine and a bitter orange liqueur for added depth of flavor. But what makes the Boulevardier truly intriguing is its rich history, dating back to the Prohibition era.
During Prohibition, the United States experienced a surge in cocktail consumption. Cocktails were enjoyed not only for their taste, but also as a way to mask the inferior quality of the available alcohol. However, many bartenders were forced to leave the country or pursue alternative careers due to the restrictions imposed by Prohibition. It was during this time that the Boulevardier was born.
The cocktail’s origins can be traced to Harry’s Bar in Paris, a popular meeting place for American expatriates. It is believed that the drink was named after Erskine Gwynne, a member of the Vanderbilt family who founded a Parisian magazine called The Boulevardier. Gwynne, with his eccentric personality and love of racing, became the inspiration for this unique concoction.

American flair with a Parisian twist

The Boulevardier cocktail is the perfect blend of American and Parisian influences. It pays homage to the rich history of American spirits while embracing the sophistication of Parisian cocktail culture. The combination of bourbon or rye, Campari and sweet vermouth creates a harmonious blend of flavors that tantalize the palate.
Alton Brown’s affinity for this particular cocktail is a testament to his appreciation for traditional dishes with a modern twist. His love of Southern cuisine, Tex-Mex flavors and hot sauce is well known, but this boulevardier shows off his penchant for classic American cocktails with a touch of eccentricity.

The Virtues of the Boulevardier

The Boulevardier offers a complex and satisfying drinking experience. The robustness of bourbon or rye forms the foundation of the cocktail, providing a warm and welcoming base. Campari, with its distinct bitterness, adds a unique character and a touch of sophistication. The sweet vermouth adds depth and complexity, balancing the flavors and creating a well-rounded profile.
This cocktail is not only a treat for the palate, but also a conversation starter. Its fascinating history and association with notable personalities make it an excellent choice for those looking to impress their guests with both flavor and storytelling.

How to Make the Perfect Boulevardier

To make a boulevardier that lives up to Alton Brown’s high standards, follow these simple steps:

  1. Ingredients:
    • 1 ½ ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
    • 1 ounce Campari
    • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
    • Orange twist, to garnish
  2. Mixing:
    • Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with ice.
    • Add the bourbon or rye, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
    • Stir gently for about 30 seconds to combine ingredients and chill.
  3. Serve:
    • Strain the cocktail into a chilled rocks glass filled with ice.
    • Garnish with an orange twist to enhance the flavor and add a touch of elegance.
  4. Enjoy:
    • Sip and savor the complex flavors of the Boulevardier, appreciating the balance between the richness of the whiskey, the bitterness of the Campari and the sweetness of the vermouth.


Alton Brown’s favorite cocktail, the Boulevardier, is a testament to his culinary expertise and adventurous palate. This classic drink with a twist embodies the fusion of American and Parisian influences, creating a delightful and sophisticated drinking experience. Whether you’re a fan of Alton Brown or simply looking for new cocktail recipes, the Boulevardier is sure to impress with its fascinating history and intriguing flavors. So raise a glass to Alton Brown and indulge in this timeless concoction that combines tradition, innovation, and a dash of eccentricity. Cheers!


What is the Boulevardier?

The Boulevardier is a classic cocktail that combines American bourbon or rye with Campari and sweet vermouth, resulting in a rich and layered flavor profile.

What makes the Boulevardier so special?

The Boulevardier is distinguished by its historical significance and unique blend of American and Parisian influences. It pays homage to the Prohibition era and captures the sophistication of Parisian cocktail culture.

Why is the Boulevardier Alton Brown’s favorite cocktail?

Alton Brown appreciates the Boulevardier for its fusion of traditional American flavors with a touch of eccentricity. The cocktail’s bold and complex flavors match his culinary style and love of reinventing classics.

How do I make the perfect Boulevardier at home?

To make a delicious Boulevardier, combine 1 ½ ounces of bourbon or rye, 1 ounce of Campari, and 1 ounce of sweet vermouth in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir gently and strain into chilled rocks glass. Garnish with a twist of orange and enjoy!

Can I substitute any of the ingredients in the Boulevardier?

While the traditional recipe calls for bourbon or rye, Campari, and sweet vermouth, you can experiment with variations based on your preferences. For example, you can try different types of whiskey or explore alternative bitter liqueurs to add your own personal touch.

What food pairings work well with the Boulevardier?

The Boulevardier pairs well with a wide variety of foods. Its bold flavors make it an excellent companion to rich and savory dishes such as grilled meats, charcuterie or aged cheeses. You can also experiment with complementary flavors by serving it with dark chocolate or spiced desserts.

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