Liquor Laboratory

13 Best Bourbons For Boulevardiers in 2024 (Complete Guide)

Best Bourbons For Boulevardiers

Last Updated on April 13, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Boulevardier is known as Negroni’s bourbon-fueled sister drink. Its perfect balance of sweetness and smokiness makes it the perfect canvas for this cocktail, especially if the flavor is further enhanced with the bitters.

Have you ever wondered what the best bourbon for Boulevardier is? Here’s a list of what we have tried (and tested). Read on!

Top 13 Bourbons for Boulevardiers (Must-Try)

13. Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey

ABV: 45% 

Average Price: Around $35 

A Boulevardier will have an exceptional taste if you use a high-rye bourbon for it, so Bulleit is naturally a great choice.

This liquor is wonderfully spicy, with cinnamon and licorice notes, balanced with sweeter flavors like honey, roasted vanilla, and dried cherry. 

A Boulevardier with Bulleit definitely leans towards a sweeter cocktail drink. 

12. Henry Mckenna 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon

Henry Mckenna 10 Year Single Barrel

ABV: 50% 

Average Price: Around $80 

Henry McKenna’s 50 percent ABV will automatically make for a stronger Boulevardier, and it’s one of the cheapest bottles out there for Single Barrels.

The 10-year aging period also made it rich and dark, complementing the Campari liqueur quite nicely. 

You’ll get plenty of sweet roasted marshmallows and nutty butter pecan undertones if you use this in your Boulevardier. 

11. Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 101

ABV: 50.5% 

Average Price: Around $30 

Wild Turkey’s Rye Whiskey expression makes it the perfect addition to a glass of Boulevardier. It has a delightfully spicy profile, with peppermint spice, cinnamon, grain, and a bit of smoky oak.

In all honesty, we think it tastes a bit “young” when drunk neat, but we didn’t mind that so much in a cocktail. 

10. Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

ABV: 45% 

Average Price: Around $30 

What We Liked: Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey’s high wheat content gives it a delightfully soft and sweet profile that balances out the bitterness of the Campari.

This liquor has also been around for over 100 years, giving it plenty of credibility for patrons who might not be 100 percent sure which bourbon they’d like for their Boulevardier. 

9. Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon Whiskey

Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon Whiskey

ABV: 45% 

Average Price: Around $40 

What We Liked: Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon Whiskey is a great flavor-infused option for people who may find bourbon, in general, a bit intimidating.

This spirit has a more maple-forward flavor, giving a Boulevardier with this spirit a lot more warmth while maintaining its signature richness. Next time you’re out at a bar, try this one out! 

8. Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon

Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon

ABV: 57% 

Average Price: Around $30  

What We Liked: The Old Grand-Dad 114 bourbon is the highest proof bottle the brand carries. It uses a high rye mash bill, so you should expect plenty of spicy cinnamon and rye heat with some fruity undertones. 

If ever there were a word to describe it, we’d use “manly” for Old Grand-Dad… but the ladies can most certainly get in on the fun, too. 

7. Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond

Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond

ABV: 50% 

Average Price: Around $20 

What We Liked: Evan Williams’s Bottled-In-Bond is bottled at 50 percent ABV, a product of a single distiller in a single season, and aged for a minimum of four years [1].

This regulated liquor has a sweet and floral profile, with brown sugar, honey, and vanilla, which perfectly balances out the bitterness of the Campari. 

6. Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon

Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon

ABV: 50% 

Average Price: Around $30 

What We Liked: Here’s a little secret: you don’t have to burn a hole through your wallet to enjoy a great glass of Boulevardier — it all starts with using a great quality bourbon base. 

Old Grand-Dad Bonded  Bourbon is beautifully intense, with caramel candy and raw sugar flavor notes. The best part? You can get this great-quality bottle for less than $30.

Read: Penelope Bourbon Review 

5. Russell’s Reserve Bourbon

Russell’s Reserve Bourbon

ABV: 55% 

Average Price: Around $70 

What We Liked: If you ask us, Russell’s Reserve bourbon is an excellent sipper, yet it makes for an even meaner Boulevardier. Its sweet and smoky flavor of vanilla and toffee holds up to the bitterness of the Campari and sweet vermouth without being too overpowering. 

Well, what can we expect from a bottle by Jimmy Russell, the brand’s Master Distiller [2]? 

4. Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

ABV: 45% 

Average Price: Around $45 

What We Liked: Using Buffalo Trace bourbon as its base bourbon is a perfect choice if you prefer a Boulevardier with a lighter profile. This liquor is rife with bright flavors such as pineapple, apricot, and ginger, that give way to a long and smooth finish.

Using Buffalo Trace in your Boulevardier will surely make those Campari bitters shine through. 

3. Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

ABV: 50% 

Average Price: Around $50 

What We Liked: Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon’s high proof will work well in Boulevardiers (or just about any cocktail, really).

The high percentage of rye in its mash bill (around 35 percent) gives it a nice amount of heat, which will balance out the sweetness and bitterness of the liqueurs. 

Overall, a solid option the next time you’re out ordering a Boulevardier from your favorite bartender. 

2. Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon

Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon

ABV: 40% 

Average Price: Around $20 

What We Liked: The Yellow Label from Four Roses is much lighter than the Single Barrel. It has a fruity profile, with hints of apple and pear and a delicate floral aroma.

Using this bourbon in your Boulevardier will allow the liqueur flavors to shine through without being too overpowering. 

We imagine this will be more up the ladies’ alleys, but we think the gents would enjoy it, too. This bottle’s also got a great price tag to boot. 

1. Basil Hayden Rye Bourbon Whiskey

Basil Hayden Rye Bourbon Whiskey, best bourbon for boulevardier

ABV: 40% 

Average Price: Around $50 

What We Liked: Basil Hayden Rye Bourbon Whiskey is an unorthodox choice for a Boulevardier. This bourbon has a darker, richer flavor than the others on this list, with dark berries, burnt caramel, and smoky oak notes. 

There is also plenty of rye spice from the high-rye mash bill, which perfectly balances out the Campari and sweet vermouth. 

Read: Basil Hayden Dark Rye Whiskey

Bourbon-Boulevardier Cocktail Recipe 

Prep Time: 2 minutes 

Total Time: 2 minutes 


  • 1¼ oz bourbon whiskey 
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth 
  • ice 
  • orange twist 
  • 1 oz Campari


First, pour all the liquid ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir well until everything has been chilled and incorporated. Then, pour and strain the mixture into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist. Serve.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Boulevardier better with bourbon or rye?

According to most bartenders, Boulevardier is better with rye than bourbon. Although bourbon was used for the cocktail’s original recipe, the spiciness of rye whiskey gives the drink a lot more flavor, nuance, and depth.  

What’s the cheapest bourbon for a Boulevardier? 

The cheapest bourbon for a Boulevardier is the Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond. You can get a 750 ml bottle for as low as $20. The bottle is a testament to how you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great quality drink. 

What bourbon to use in a Boulevardier?

Selecting the right bourbon for a Boulevardier largely depends on personal preference, but generally, a high-proof bourbon with robust flavors can stand up well to the other ingredients. Popular choices include Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey 101, or Bulleit Bourbon, as they contribute a rich and complex profile that complements the Campari and sweet vermouth in the cocktail.

What is the best sweet vermouth for Boulevardier?

Choosing the best sweet vermouth for a Boulevardier involves finding a balance between sweetness and herbal complexity. Many cocktail enthusiasts recommend Carpano Antica Formula for its bold and full-bodied flavor, while others opt for Cocchi Vermouth di Torino for its well-balanced sweetness. Ultimately, the choice may depend on individual taste preferences, so experimenting with different brands can help tailor the Boulevardier to your liking.

What is regarded as the best bourbon?

Determining the best bourbon is subjective, as individual preferences play a significant role. However, several bourbons have gained widespread acclaim. Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, and Blanton’s Single Barrel are often regarded highly for their exceptional quality and unique characteristics. It’s worth exploring various bourbons to discover the one that aligns with your taste preferences and budget.

What is a good bourbon for steak?

When pairing bourbon with steak, it’s advisable to choose a bourbon that complements the richness of the meat. Knob Creek, with its full-bodied and robust flavor, is often recommended for its ability to stand up to the savory elements of a steak. Other excellent choices include Woodford Reserve or Maker’s Mark, as their balanced profiles can enhance the overall dining experience when enjoyed alongside a well-cooked steak.

What is a good bourbon drink for beginners?

For bourbon beginners, a classic choice is the Bourbon Old Fashioned. This simple yet flavorful cocktail combines bourbon, sugar, and bitters, providing a well-balanced and approachable introduction to bourbon. Brands like Maker’s Mark, Evan Williams, or Jim Beam are excellent for crafting an Old Fashioned that allows the sweetness of bourbon to shine without overwhelming the palate, making it an ideal starting point for those new to the world of bourbon.

What does Boulevardier taste like?

The Boulevardier boasts a sophisticated and robust flavor profile, characterized by a harmonious blend of bourbon’s caramel and vanilla notes, the herbal complexity of sweet vermouth, and the bittersweet citrus punch from Campari, resulting in a well-balanced cocktail with a slightly bitter, yet smooth and warming finish.

Is Boulevardier a Negroni?

While both the Boulevardier and Negroni share a common ancestry in being part of the classic Italian cocktail family, they differ in their choice of base spirit; the Boulevardier swaps gin for bourbon, resulting in a richer and more whiskey-forward flavor profile compared to the Negroni’s lighter and herbal character.

Is a Boulevardier made with dry or sweet vermouth?

A Boulevardier traditionally employs sweet vermouth, contributing a luscious sweetness and herbal complexity that complements the bourbon and Campari; however, some variations may use dry vermouth for a drier, more astringent profile, providing a unique twist on the classic recipe.

What alcohol is good for Negroni?

A Negroni traditionally features gin as its base spirit, providing a light and botanical foundation that balances well with the bitterness of Campari and the sweetness of vermouth. Popular gin choices include Tanqueray, Beefeater, or Bombay Sapphire, each contributing its unique botanical blend to enhance the overall flavor complexity of the cocktail.

What is the No 1 bourbon in the world?

Determining the “No 1 bourbon in the world” can be subjective, as preferences vary; however, Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is often acclaimed as one of the finest and most sought-after bourbons globally, known for its exceptional quality, rich flavors, and limited availability, making it highly coveted among bourbon enthusiasts. It’s worth noting that personal taste plays a crucial role, and other bourbons like Buffalo Trace, Blanton’s, or Woodford Reserve are also widely celebrated for their excellence in the bourbon realm.

Final Verdict: Best Bourbon For Boulevardier

Our team chose Basil Hayden Rye as the best bourbon for Boulevardier because we didn’t expect its dark, rich profile to work extremely well with the bitterness of the Campari and sweet vermouth. 

However, the other options left us satisfied when we used them in the classic cocktail. The bourbons listed above all vary in flavor, profile, and finishes.

So, whether you’re looking for something light (like Four Roses Yellow Label), dark and rich (like Henry McKenna 10-Year), or unorthodox (Basil Hayden Rye), there’s always an option that will best suit your palate. 

What do you think? Did we include your favorite bourbon in our list? Let us know your thoughts by sounding off below! 


  1. What Is Bottled-in-Bond Whiskey, and What Does it Mean for Whiskey Today?
  2. Talking with Two Generations of Wild Turkey Master Distillers
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