A Variation on the Boulevardier and the Old Pal: The Red River Rye Cocktail

After trying the Boulevardier Cocktail last time, I began thinking of variations on the theme. The mixture of Campari and sweet vermouth is nearly perfect, but the bourbon was too sweet. So I have been experimenting, and I think rye whiskey works perfectly with the mixture. I call it the Red River Rye. Sure, it’s just like the Negroni (gin, Campari, sweet vermouth) or the Boulevardier (bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth), but the addition of the rye is spot-on. Whatever you do, though, don’t think Crown Royal substitutes for the rye. We need a good, spicy American rye whiskey here. I used Old Overholt, but I think Bulleit Rye would be perfect here, too.

To make the Red River Rye Cocktail, combine with ice:

  • 1 oz rye whiskey
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth

and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The reason rye works so well here is that it’s spicy enough to hold its own against the Campari and sweet vermouth. The Campari adds a beautiful bitterness, the sweet vermouth adds hints of sweet and herbal, and the rye whiskey gives it a pack of spicy burn that makes the drink work. I wouldn’t say this drink is anyone, for a lot of people balk at both Campari and sweet vermouth (hell, I used to be one of them), but for those that appreciate bitter or spicy, this drink may just make them happy.

I know I appreciate one on a cool fall day, one of the first such days we have had in Houston. And yes, it’s October. For us Houston bloggers, our days of outdoor cocktail sipping has just begun.

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