Negronis hold a special place in the hearts of many drinks professionals. Boulevardiers, their dark-featured cousins, are making inroads as Americans’ love affair with whiskeys continues to grow. (“American Whiskey is on Fire” Fortune.com declared in 2017, heralding the $3.1 billion sales of brown spirits the year prior.)
As with Negronis, the Boulevardier rubric features equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth. Boulevardiers swap the remaining gin, however, for something in the brown-spirited family: whiskey, bourbon, or rye.
We blind-tasted several of each to determine the best bottle for Boulevardiers. We found that determining your bottle of choice depends first and foremost on whether your taste buds prefer sweeter or spicier cocktails. If the former, reach for bourbon. Prefer a kickier drink? Try rye.
Our tasting panel sampled seven Boulevardiers and ranked them on balance, flavor, and overall tastiness. Here are the best bottles for your Boulevardier.
A funky, almost mushroomy nose, cough-syrup-adjacent taste, and sharp alcoholic burn made this whiskey our panel’s least favorite pick. Average price: $19
One of the sweeter Boulevardiers we tasted, Bulleit gave the drink a nice lift without noticeable spice. “I pretty much just taste Campari,” remarked one taster. Average price: $29
Light and sweet, this was a crowd-pleasing iteration. Two tasters liked its earthy scent, akin to wood shavings. Average price: $20
Made from a blend of four-to-eight-year-old whiskeys, this rye gave the Boulevardier a nice sweet-spice balance and powerful punch. One of our tasters found the consistency a bit “syrupy,” but by and large our panel enjoyed it. Average price: $40
Made from a blend of Kentucky and Canadian ryes with a bit of port wine, Basil Hayden’s is an unorthodox, exciting option. Its dark fruit nicely complements the sweetness of the Campari, and the end is both spicy and smooth. Average price: $40
This rye struck a nice balance of sweet and spice, without too strong of a kick on the finish. Average price: $37
Our tasters appreciated the lighter texture and nose on the Buffalo Trace Boulevardier, which balanced its sweetness with a pleasantly dry finish. Average price: $33