Cocktail of the Week: How to make the Mandarin Oriental’s Boulevardier

A century after its creation, this whiskey-spiked Negroni is getting us through another pandemic in style

Earlier this year, we declared the “Negroni is dead – long live literally anything else”. We condemned the bright red king of aperitivo as “venomous” and “medicinal”, looking forward to a bright future where gin and tonics could rule the roost once again.

What we may have overlooked, however, is the alchemy that happens when gin – one part of the Negroni’s holy trinity – is replaced by whiskey. A simple shift in ingredients, and behold, the Boulevardier. Along with bitter Campari and sweet red vermouth, something altogether smokier and more intriguing is created when whiskey joins the party. The Boulevardier was created in the 1920’s at the infamous Harry’s Bar in Paris. American-born writer Harry McElhone decided to spice up the newly invented Florentine Negroni and it was an instant success. A century later, and facing a new pandemic, it seems our appetite for the cocktail has returned.

At the ever-so-suave Mandarin Oriental, overlooking Hyde Park, the Boulevardier is already becoming a stalwart on the new bar menu. In a normal world, whisky lovers and Negroni agnostics could saunter down to Knightsbridge to try a Boulevardier or two in suitable opulence. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that drinking fancy cocktails at home is not only necessary, but actually rather enjoyable.


“This cocktail is easy to replicate at home, and fun to customise with a vermouth and a whiskey of your liking,” says head bar manager Rodolphe Mirande. “At the Mandarin Bar we use quite a woody and herbaceous vermouth called Mancino Rosso, and a smooth, well-balanced bourbon. It’s a classic autumnal drink to keep you warm this season.”

Chances are, with nothing else to splurge on, you’ve got a decent collection of whiskey building up. So dust off your finest glassware, slice some twists of orange peel and treat yourself this weekend.

Ingredients (serves one)
30 ml Bourbon whiskey
30 ml Sweet vermouth
30 ml Campari
Orange peel to garnish


  1. Chill a small champagne coupe or highball glass in the freezer.
  2. Stir the whiskey, vermouth and Campari in a mixing glass over ice.
  3. Strain into the chilled glass, and garnish with a twist of orange peel.

A brief, bottled introduction to English whisky…

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