The Boulevardier is one of our favourite drinks. During our research, we discovered that there is another cocktail with this name, but we didn’t pay much attention to it. Coincidentally, Marian Gadzewski from Hamburg’s Le Lion had served it to us later, and we were very impressed. It was an exquisite choice.
30 ml Dubonnet
30 ml Cap Corse red
15 ml Park XO cognac
15 ml House Campari (4 parts Tuvè Bitter, 1 part Campari)
Alternatively and currently preferred by us:
30 ml Dubonnet
30 ml Cap Corse red
15 ml Park XO Cognac
15 ml Berto Bitter
Today we want to turn our attention to a cocktail that is also called Boulevardier, but is different from the one commonly known as Boulevardier. We call it Boulevardier 1929 to distinguish it from the other cocktails, referring to the year in which it was created. As we explained in the post on the Boulevardier, the “original” Boulevardier appeared in Paris in 1927 in Harry McElhone’s book Barflies and Cocktails. The Boulevardier 1929 appeared in the anonymously published book “Cocktails de Paris”. Fortunately, it tells us exactly who invented it. It was a certain Robert from the “Viel” who won the Grand Prix with it at a bartending championship held in Paris on 2 February 1929: “ROBERT DU “VIEL”. Grand Prix au Championnat des Barmen disputé à Paris le 2 février 1929.”
Mauro Mahjoub drew our attention to a publication that provided information about the participants in the run-up to the championship. It says: “robert carne (from Bar Viel). Mathematics leads to everything, provided you can get out of it, … is a famous formula. When Robert Carme left the Lycée Saint-Louis, he wanted to be an engineer, then a stockbroker. But suddenly, on his father’s orders, he became a cellar master at Ciro’s, where he got to know the great wines. After his service, which he completes as a sub-lieutenant, he finds the atmosphere of the bars with fondness. At Chatam under Albert and at Scribe with André, he perfected his skills, and Bar Viel, which now has him attached, will certainly not lose its reputation with him.” [6-33]
– “robert carne (du bar Viel). Les mathématiques mènent à tout à la condition d’en sortir, … selon la formule célèbre. Robert Carme, à la sortie du lycée Saint-Louis, voulait devenir ingénieur, puis commis d’agent de change. Mais le voilà brusquement, par décision paternelle, caviste au Ciro’s où il apprend les grands crus. Après son service qu’il termine comme sous-lieutenant, il retrouve avec prédilection l’atmosphère des bars. Au Chatam, sous les ordres d’Albert, au Scribe avec André, il se perfectionne, et ce n’est certes pas avec lui que le bar Viel, qui se l’est maintenant attaché, perdra sa réputation.”
Whether Robert Carme’s Boulevardier was inspired by Erskinne Gwynne’s Boulevardier, or whether he devised it in ignorance of the latter, cannot be determined. But the two recipes are sufficiently different for the Boulevardier 1929 to be considered a drink in its own right. It appeared one more time, in 1934, in William T. Boothby’s “Cocktail Bill” Boothby’s World Drinks. After that, we hear nothing more about it, not until Harry Schraemli published it again in 1965 and 1966. No wonder we overlooked him at first.
In the original recipe, a Raphaël is used as the Quinquina. It is available – at least today – in red and white. It is made on the basis of wine and contains, among other things, quinine, bitter oranges, vanilla, cocoa beans and vanilla.  We follow Marian’s recommendation and have chosen the Cap Corse Grande Reserve Quinquina Rouge by L. N. Mattei as an alternative. It also contains cocoa and quinine  and works in this drink. Beyond that, though, we swapped the Campari for our House Campari, which works wonderfully here, unlike the modern Campari. We have already explained in detail why this substitution makes sense in our post about the Boulevardier, and what was said there will not be repeated here.
Robert, the inventor of the cocktail, worked in the “Bar Viel” of the “Hotel de Paris”. This hotel was located at no. 8 Boulevard de la Madeleine. Today you can stay there in flats, in the “Resicence Madeleine Opera.” The building that stands there today is said to have been built in 1930 or the 1930s.   We cannot verify whether this is true. The information does not come from an official source. Doubts are certainly warranted, because for our own building, for example, there is a wide variety of information circulating, often considerably different. Perhaps the Hotel de Paris was opened there at an earlier time – in which case the drink was created in the bar of this building – or the hotel was demolished and rebuilt. In that case, the cocktail would have been created in the previous building. Our tendency, however, is that the building was already there at the end of the 1920s. This is how it looks today: https://goo.gl/maps/okxDnVB8xBrKhgUo8
- https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Rapha%C3%ABl_(ap%C3%A9ritif): Saint-Raphaël (apéritif).
- https://www.booking.com/hotel/fr/apartment-rue-godot-de-mauroy.html: Apartment Madeleine.
- https://selfcatering.travel/8-boulevard-de-la-madeleine: 8 Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris/9, Île-de-France.
- http://www.perola.eu/index.php/produkte/14-produkte/114-l-n-mattei-cap-corse-grande-reserve-quinquina: L.N. MATTEI Cap Corse Grande Reserve Quinquina.
- Anonymus: Cocktails de Paris préséntes par RIP. Paris. Editions Demangel.
- https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k54158098/f35.image.r=%22robert%20carme%22 La Semaine à Paris: Paris-guide… : tout ce qui se voit, tout ce qui s’entend à Paris. 1. Februar 1929
1929 Anonymus: Cocktails de Paris. Boulevardier.
1/6 Courvoisier « the Brandy of Napoléon »
ROBERT DU “VIEL”.
Grand Prix au Championnat des Barmen disputé à
Paris le 2 février 1929.
1934 William T. Boothby: „Cocktail Bill“ Boothby’s World Drinks. Seite 32. Boulevardier.
Dubonnet . . . . . . . 1/3 jigger Raphael . . . . . . . 1/3 jigger
Campari . . . . . . . . 1/6 jigger Cognac . . . . . . . 1/6 jigger
Shake well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass and serve.
1965 Harry Schraemli: Manuel du bar. Seite 365. Boulevardier (cocktail).
1/6 Campari, 1/6 cognac, 1/3 Dubonnet, 1/3 Raphaël. Agiter.
1966 Harry Schraemli: Le roi du bar. Seite 48. Boulevardier Cocktail.
Shaker. 1/6 Campari, 1/6 cognac, 1/3 Du-
bonnet, 1/3 St. Raphaël.