An Unlikely Valentine

When this season delivered me a cold, I turned to Bourbon for consolation.  It is probably safe to say that when the season doesn't deliver a cold, I also turn to Bourbon for consolation.  It is my favorite winter spirit and can thankfully sooth a stubborn cough.

Classic cocktails are among the first in line for my taste buds and when I was recently turned on to this little gem, it was love at first taste.  Sometimes mistakenly called a whiskey Negroni, the Boulevardier cocktail actually predates the Negroni.  A tasty combination of bourbon, sweet vermouth and Campari, this cocktail is simple to prepare and a deliciously layered drink.

You may or may not be surprised to learn that most of my industry chums would name the Negroni or the Manhattan as their favorite cocktail, but it did come as a surprise to see several of my seasoned colleagues scratching their heads when asked to make a Boulevardier.  It is classically prepared with two parts American whiskey (rye or bourbon work equally well), with one part each sweet vermouth and Campari.  Stir ingredients together in a mixing glass filled with ice, strain into either a stemmed cocktail glass or a rocks glass with ice, to preference.  Garnish with a twist of lemon or orange zest.

Turning back a few pages to the early 1900's, Harry McElhone, the proprietor of Harry's New York penned the drink in his book "Barflies and Cocktails" and gave credit to Erskine Gwynne as the actual inventor.  Erskine was a well-off American living in Paris to start a magazine called The Boulevardier.

So tonight as the lights dim in the restaurant and the dining room is vacant and we are left only with the essence of love from all the couples that once filled it, I will belly up to the bar and have a drink in Mr. Gwynne's honor.  Oh Boulevardier, won't you be my Valentine?