Perhaps more than even the Negroni, the Boulevardier is an elegant trifecta of flavors, balancing bittersweet liqueurs, botanical vermouth and the warm spice of whiskey. The Embarcadero is a San Franciscan take on the Boulevardier, though it comes by way of Claire Sprouse, the founder of New York City’s all-day cafe and bar Hunky Dory. Sprouse is also an award-winning bartender with accolades from Tales of the Cocktail and Food & Wine.
Sprouse uses Lo-Fi amaro and vermouth in the Embarcadero. The label, based in the Bay Area, produces two vermouths and an amaro, and was developed in part by Sprouse herself. The base of each bottle is a wine made with exclusively Californian grapes, much of them from Napa.
The sweet vermouth in the Embarcadero differentiates itself from most sweet vermouths in its color. Lo-Fi sweet vermouth is not the traditional dark-red kind. It is instead made with a white-wine base that gives the vermouth a pale gold hue. The botanical blend, too, is unique, with rhubarb, cocoa, cloves, coriander, cardamom, gentian, dried fruit and other natural ingredients, all displayed on the bottle with a stylish label.
Rather than the Campari used in a Boulevardier, the Embarcadero employs Lo-Fi’s Gentian Amaro, a dark red bittersweet liqueur that gives the drink a vibrant orange flush. Like the sweet vermouth, the amaro is a unique blend of herbs, spices, fruits, and other natural ingredients including anise, hibiscus, grapefruit, ginger and, of course, gentian.
While the choice of rye whiskey is up to your personal preference (and the availability of specific ryes), there’s not much flexibility with the recipe, given the specificity of the vermouth and amaro and the way they define the drink. This can make the cocktail difficult to assemble if you’re not living in California or New York, the two states where the vermouths are most readily available. (Though they have made it to a few other markets.) Those who really want to try this cocktail from a famed bartender, or even just try Lo-Fi’s vermouths on their own or in other cocktails, the bottles are available online at a variety of stores.
- 1 ounce Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro
- 1 ounce Lo-Fi Sweet Vermouth
- 1 ounce rye whiskey
- Garnish: lemon twist
Add the amaro, sweet vermouth and rye whiskey to a rocks glass over a large ice cube and stir to combine.
Garnish with a lemon twist.