Halloween is the time for bloody and bitter cocktails and this easy Boulevardier riff is perfect as a single cocktail or batched as a Halloween drink. In this cocktail we take a classic Boulevardier, top it with blood orange soda and add a fun pepper garnish to give the whole thing some horns.
What’s a Boulevardier?
The Boulevardier is a cocktail that originated in Paris during Prohibition. It was the idea of a man named Erskine Gwynne who patronized Harry McElhone’s bar – named, funnily enough – Harry’s New York Bar. He was a regular at Harry’s Bar and also an editor for a literary magazine called The Boulevardier. That’s the source of the name for the cocktail.
While it’s most often described today as a bourbon take on the Negroni, the recipe for the Negroni wasn’t published for another two decades. At the time it was just a great cocktail of bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari.
The original specs for the Boulevardier had equal proportions of all three, but today’s palates prefer a heavier ratio of the bourbon. Most people today prefer a recipe of 1 1/2 oz bourbon to 3/4 oz sweet vermouth and 3/4 oz Campari.
For more on the Boulevardier, see my article – How to Make the Perfect Boulevardier.
How to Make a Boulevardier Halloween Drink
For this cocktail, I’m doing a very easy adjustment to the cocktail – just topping it with some blood orange soda from Trader Joe’s. This accomplishes two things: 1) it adds even more red color to the cocktail, and 2) it makes it much easier to drink as it sweetens and lightens the drink.
On the whole, the Boulevardier cocktail is very bitter because of the amount of Campari in it. As an Italian red bitter, Campari was originally designed to aid in digestion, so it’s infused with many herbs and botanicals.
So, to make this more appealing to cocktail drinkers new to the Boulevardier, I used the blood orange soda to soften up the drink and make it more approachable.
Tips and Tricks for this Boozy Bloody Boolevardier
- Because this isn’t served on ice, make sure the glass and the blood orange soda is chilled. This keeps the drink cold while you sip on your new favorite Halloween cocktail.
- To make sure the drink is dark red, use a dark red/dark orange blood orange soda.
- If the drink is still too bitter for you, swap the ratio to two oz bourbon and 1/2 oz sweet vermouth and 1/2 oz Campari. Top with a little more blood orange soda.
- You won’t need bitters for this cocktail because of the Campari.
- I used pepper horns for a garnish, but only because it’s a Halloween cocktail. Normally I would garnish this cocktail with mint leaves and a lemon wheel or blood orange wheel.
Other Halloween Cocktails to Try
- Goblin’s Goblet
- Incognito (Applejack Old Fashioned)
- Halloween Ramos Gin Fizz
- Peanut Butter Whiskey Old Fashioned
Recommended Bar Tools
You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces usually come from the Cocktail Kingdom section of Amazon:
You may already have these bar essentials, but just in case:
Bloody Boolevardier Halloween Drink
- 1.5 oz bourbon
- 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
- 3/4 oz Campari
- 2-3 oz blood orange soda
- Garnish: mint sprigs or pepper horns
- Add bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth to the mixing glass and add ice.
- Stir for 30 seconds, until well-chilled.
- Strain into a coupe glass and top with blood orange soda.
- Garnish with pepper horns or mint sprigs.