This Grand-Dad never gets old Credit: Jim Beam Brands
This Grand-Dad never gets old
Credit: Jim Beam Brands

Bittersweet success: Top 10 bourbons and ryes for a Boulevardier

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Cocktails aren’t our favorite thing, but we’re a sucker for a well-made Boulevardier, which is basically a Negroni with whiskey instead of gin. The Manual’s Taylor Tobin canvases U.S. bartenders to round up the 10 best whiskies for this Prohibition-era standard.

At Jimmy at the James New York, co-owner Johnny Swet digs Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon. “It’s less sweet than others, which balances nicely with the Campari and sweet vermouth,” he says. “As a bonus, the price point is really good for such a high-quality bourbon.”

Now with more alligator

In Austin, Jack Allen’s Kitchen beverage director David Toby points out that purists believe only bourbon belongs in a Boulevardier. He favors Russell’s Reserve because the 110-proof spirit can stand up to Campari’s bitterness and to richer vermouths. “I like the higher alcohol, the 10-year age, and the flavor of vanilla and toffee that is gained from the #4 alligator [barrel] char.”

For Liz Farrell, lead bartender at San Diego’s Herb & Wood, it’s Few Rye Whiskey, whose “spicy characteristics and dried oak barrel finish enhance the bitter notes of Campari.” Few’s unique flavor profile of raw grains, orchard fruit and citrus matches well with a herb-centered vermouth, Farrell adds. “When all of these tastes are combined, [you get] a grained, spiced, citrusy, floral cocktail that is a flavor-forward simple sipper.” Enough said.🥃 

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