Paris in the 1920s—Hemingway hanging out at Les Deux Magots, now determined to be a writer, the first signs of cantankerousness lining his youthful face; impeccably dressed Scott Fitzgerald, tossing back drinks with one hand while keeping Zelda from jumping off the balcony with the other; the recently reopened Moulin Rouge, already a tourist trap, serving watered down drinks while the Can-Can girls twirl and kick for the American sailors. C’est la vie Parisienne.
According to Ted “Dr. Cocktail”Haigh, the drink was the signature libation of Erskine Gwynne, editor of The Paris Boulevardier, a magazine for expatriates similar to the The New Yorker. Harry McElhone of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris came up with the drink and it appears in his 1927 bar guide, Barflies and Cocktails. It’s a combination of American bourbon and European Campari and sweet vermouth. The question is: where did he get the bourbon? The United States was not producing or, presumably, exporting any bourbon during prohibition. Where there is a will there is a way, I suppose.
The drink is simplicity itself, being, for all intents and purposes, a whiskey Negroni.
1 ½ oz Bourbon
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
Stir in a mixing glass with ice until very cold and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Most recipes you see call for a cherry garnish, but I prefer a nice wide orange twist as an orange usually garnishes a Negroni and it goes so well with bourbon.
So, mix yourself a Boulevardier and dream of the City of Lights.