You may not have tried the classic Boulevardier cocktail, but I'm betting you've been exposed to its cousin of sorts, the Negroni. Both are very booze-forward (aka entirely booze) with a hint of citrus, a lot of depth, and an overall bitter finish. The difference between the two is the base spirit - the Boulevardier features bourbon or rye whiskey while the Negroni is built on a foundation of gin.
I had never tried making the Boulevardier but thought that the richer flavor of whiskey could better balance the bitterness of the aperitif component and therefore wanted to explore further. Though the traditional recipe calls for Campari, I prefer using ingredients with all-natural color and flavors and thus chose to incorporate a new brand local to Chicago - Apologue Liqueurs.
With one of the founders of the company coming from an accomplished industry background at The Violet Hour and Letherbee Distillers, I figured Apologue would offer a quality product. I certainly wasn't disappointed. Robby and Jordan were able to create an offering of three unique and dynamic natural liqueurs crafted from predominantly local ingredients. I tend to always favor well-established French brands for liqueurs, but Apologue has really shaken things up by bringing a fresh perspective to the market, and I'm thrilled to see their products being incorporated at bars throughout Chicago.
For this drink, I used their take on Campari - Persimmon Bittersweet Liqueur. The liqueur is pleasantly sweet, with a burst of warm spice and a finish of smooth fruity bitterness. I don't typically enjoy simply sipping an aperitif but this liqueur is truly an exception.
While I wanted to combine the persimmon liqueur with whiskey, I didn't want all of the more subtle notes in the liqueur to be overshadowed. I therefore chose to use a white rye from KOVAL, a sweeter and almost vegetal counterpart to the oak-aged variety. As prescribed, I finished the drink with a touch of sweet red vermouth but decided to use slightly less than the traditional Boulevardier recipe calls for. Though I enjoy vermouth, I wanted it to bring the other two ingredients together rather than compete with either of them. The resulting cocktail is strong yet bright, palatably bitter, and perfect for warding off the winter chill.
The Persimmon Boulevardier
- 1.5 oz white rye whiskey
- 1 oz Apologue Persimmon Liqueur
- 0.75 sweet red vermouth (I used Noilly Prat)
Stir all ingredients with ice until chilled, then strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with a dehydrated persimmon slice or an orange twist and enjoy while wrapped in a blanket cocoon