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The Boulevardier is simply a negroni with gin swapped for whiskey — who’d have thought? Uninspired though the idea may seem, we shall let the brilliance of this cocktail speak for itself.

In a lowball glass, combine one part each Campari, red vermouth, and whiskey. Add ice to fill the glass, stir briefly to dilute a bit (and cut down the initial syrup-y texture), and garnish with a citrus twist (orange is best). For the whiskey I like a punchy rye, but mid-high quality bourbon works really well also. Try it with 1.5 parts whiskey at some point.

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Now, I said last week that Campari is romantic, so you’ll forgive me this week as I simply tell a story:

I remember my first Boulevardier well. It was only a little less than a year ago in Potsdam, Germany, and I had spent the evening traipsing about the gardens of Sanssouci, Frederick the Great’s summer retreat. It’s a grand and gorgeous estate, shot with manicured paths, canals, various palaces and other, more whimsical, constructions. I was with a couple of dear friends (a brother and sister, in fact) who I had not seen in a long time, and as the dim greens of evening slipped into the purple streaks of chilly twilight, we sauntered like royalty about the place admiring our surroundings and our fortunes, speaking loftily of poetry, history, and philosophy, recalling warmly our stories of days gone by beneath the familiar constellations of the late summer sky, as dear friends do. German park security not being what you’d think, we passed the younger portion of the night in this manner, our musings and wanderings certainly invigorated by our afternoon in a local Biergarten and the few liters of German beer we had thoughtfully stashed away on our persons.

By the time we found a way out of the park and made our way to a nearby bar, I was feeling pretty nostalgic and was thirsty for a proper drink to mark the occasion. Somewhat unusually, I found myself at a complete loss for what the moment called for, so I simply told the bartender how I was feeling and left it up to him. I will admit I was surprised to see him grab the Campari and a bottle of American rye.

Each time I taste the drink’s bitter sweetness, wooden sturdiness, tempered masterfully with summer herbs and mellow Italian vermouth, I can close my eyes and go back to this moment. I recall the beautiful evening we stole together amongst the flowers and statues and stars, finally sitting outside some cozy, nameless bar in the late-summer chill, flickering candlelight illuminating the faces of people I love. A story in a glass.

-Chris

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