Cocktail of the Week: Boulevardier Milkshake

March 3, 2017

Although Campari is a reliable fixture in even the most basic of backbars, it’s appeal is hardly universal. Bartenders have long been drawn to the aperitif’s ability to electrify an underlying primary spirit. Yet many drinkers remain unconvinced, turned off by an unforgivable bitterness. Ice cream, on the other hand, enjoys a far less divisive existence. Everybody loves it. And so, in a valiant effort to win over the Campari skeptics, HSL — a bar and restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City — has developed a Boulevardier variation involving Campari…Ice Cream?

“Our structure for the bar is that it’s kitchen-driven,” explains Clif Reagle, HSL Bar Manager and co-creator of the Campari ice cream cocktail. “I’m very fortunate to work with some awesome people in our kitchen, and that was an idea of our pastry chef — Alexa Norlin. She made Campari ice cream [for a dessert dish], and I thought it was a unique flavor. And I had already been thinking about getting a drink on the menu with a creamy, heavier mouthfeel.”


Reagle landed on a rye-based tipple, combining its subtle spice with the gentle sweetness of Dolin vermouth, all shaken to order with Norlin’s dessert-ified aperitif. By slushing the Campari with sugar and ice, the drink’s more bitter elements are tamed, resulting in a more approachable cocktail. This is Campari for folks who never thought they’d like Campari. Although it is intended to sip on before or during the meal, the $11 drink is exceedingly popular as a standalone dessert.

The classic Boulevardier cocktail offers equal parts American whiskey, vermouth, and Campari. From this simple recipe, countless modifications have emerged, described by a kaleidoscopic array of clever monikers. But don’t expect some witty nickname here. At HSL, cocktails remain nameless, identified solely by their primary spirit. According to Reagle: “The format is not having to worry about names of drinks, because the flavors are what’s really important. We’ve seen a lot of drinks with creative names, but maybe the drinks aren’t that good. Or sometimes great drinks with names that aren’t flashy, so they don’t sell as well.”

[Ed. note: To help explain the drink to our readers, we’ve given the drink the name of a Boulevardier Milkshake.]

Boulevardier MilkshakePhoto Credit: HSL


To thwart brand loyalty, HSL even goes so far as to resist naming the actual spirit used in each cocktail (though when asked, Reagle admits that the rye is currently George Dickel). So if you order something as seemingly uninspiring as a ‘house rye cocktail’, a concoction no less creative than a Boulevardier milkshake will soon arrive at your table. A departure from the viscosity of egg-white sours, this one hems more into White Russian territory. “We decided to shake it, to give it more aeration. It’s a nice way to explore a new texture. The bitterness is a little bit softer, and it has a great mixture of acid, bitter, sweet, and alcohol. It’s not going to be as strong as a traditional boulevardier.”

– 1 oz. George Dickel Rye
– 2 oz. Housemade Campari ice cream
– 3/4 oz. Dolin’s Sweet Vermouth
– Pinch of salt
– Shaken over ice, strained onto crushed ice
– Orange zest garnish

Ready to make your own Boulevardier Milkshake? You’re going to need ingredients!

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