The Reason Rye Whiskey Is Best In A Classic Boulevardier

The Boulevardier — a cocktail invented by Erskine Gwynne, a magazine publisher who named the drink after his magazine geared toward expats living in Paris in the 1920s — originally consisted of bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth. However, over time, the recipe has shifted to sometimes replace the bourbon with another type of whiskey: rye.

The drink will be delicious either way, but there is a specific case to be made for opting for rye whiskey. Rye whiskey is going to have a higher percentage of, well, rye — by definition, rye whiskey must be made of at least 51% rye grain (when it's made in America) — which will bring in a depth of flavor to the cocktail, thanks to rye's flavor notes of spice and herb. Additionally, rye whiskey is less sweet than bourbon, so if you're not someone who likes their cocktails on the sweeter side, going with rye whiskey is certainly your best bet.

What is the difference between rye whiskey and bourbon?

Since rye and bourbon are both types of whiskey, their differences really come down to the specifics of the distilling process. As mentioned above, rye whiskey must consist of at least 51% rye grain — which makes sense given its name. Meanwhile, bourbon must be made in the United States and must be made with a fermented mash (which is a term for cooked grains mixed with yeast) that is 51% corn.

Besides the makeup, the two types of whiskey have a lot in common. For example, they both need to be bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV (alcohol by volume) and a maximum of 80% ABV. They can even taste similar to one another if the bourbon has a high percentage of rye. So, with that logic, if you want the taste of rye in your Boulevardier, but can't find rye whiskey at your local liquor market for some reason, you can simply look for bourbon with a high rye percentage and get a similar result.