Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Boulevardier Cocktail


This bourbon “Negroni” is the perfect autumn drink

Ever had a Boulevardier Cocktail? Right, we didn’t think so.

But you probably know the Negroni — that delectable combo of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. It’s become trendy during the past few years. Well, just swap bourbon for gin, and you have the Boulevardier.

This cocktail has a bittersweet flavor that makes it perfect as a pre-dinner drink. And bourbon gives everything a nice, warm glow – so it’s welcome as autumn approaches in our part of the world.

Time to haul out those sweaters and mix up a Boulevardier. You’ll need to take the chill off.



Boulevardier Cocktail

Recipe: The Boulevardier Cocktail

The word “boulevardier” (bool-uh-var-dee-AY), a French term, refers to an urban bon vivant who frequents fashionable places. Think of a dandy (wearing a boutonniere, of course) strolling along a swank boulevard – say 5th Avenue or Rodeo Drive.

We learned about this drink from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails (one of the most fun cocktail books we know).

This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves 1.

Ingredients
  • 1½ ounces bourbon (see Notes for suggestions)
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth (see Notes)
  • garnish of a lemon twist or wedge (optional)
Procedure
  1. Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a mixing glass half-filled with ice. Stir until well combined and well chilled (about 30 seconds).
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass (preferably one that has been chilled) or an ice-filled rocks (Old-Fashioned) glass. Add garnish, if desired, and serve.
Boulevardier Cocktail

Notes
  • Why stir rather than shake this drink? Because all the ingredients are clear. Shaking introduces small bubbles, which can make a drink cloudy. If some ingredients are opaque (citrus juice, for example), you can shake because the drink will be cloudy anyway.
  • With that said, if you’re serving this on the rocks, go ahead and shake. No one will be able to see the bubbles with all those cubes.
  • Traditionally, this drink is served “up” – chilled but without ice – in a cocktail glass. Though we think it works just as well on the rocks.
  • Some people like to garnish this drink with a maraschino cherry. That works fine, especially since this cocktail’s flavor profile is similar to a Manhattan (which always has a cherry garnish). But we think lemon works even better.
  • The Boulevardier was one of many cocktails invented during the Prohibition era. It was popularized by Harry McElhone, founder and proprietor of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. McElhone first mentioned the drink in his 1927 book Barflies and Cocktails. McElhone made clear, however, that he didn’t create the cocktail himself. It was invented by Erskine Gwynne, a wealthy American expat (and frequent customer of McElhone’s) who had started a literary magazine called (what else?) The Boulevardier
  • The original recipe for the Boulevardier specified equal parts of bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth. That seems a bit unbalanced to us (as it does to many modern drinkers), so contemporary recipes increase the amount of bourbon. You may prefer even more bourbon than we do. Some connoisseurs (like our friend Greg Henry at Sippity Sup) increase the bourbon to 2 ounces (for a 2:1:1 ratio). 
  • Which bourbon to use in this cocktail? Our usual favorite for mixed drinks, Evan Williams, works OK – but just barely. You really need a bourbon that will stand up to the Campari in this drink. So we recommend using one with some heft, such as Wild Turkey 101 or Buffalo Trace.
  • Campari is a red-hued Italian liqueur with a bitter flavor. Some people enjoy it over ice or with soda water as a before-dinner drink. 
  • Sweet (red) vermouth is sometimes called Italian vermouth. Which makes sense, because sweet vermouth was invented in Turin (by Antonio Beneddetto Carpano in 1786).
  • We like to use the Martini & Rossi brand of sweet vermouth in this drink, but any name-brand red vermouth will work.
  • Feel free to try some variations on the vermouth in this drink. You could substitute Punt e Mes, for example. Ted Haigh likes Carpano Antica. And one of our local restaurants makes this cocktail with oloroso sherry. We like it best with Martini & Rossi, but it’s fun to switch things up sometimes.
  • Our usual reminder: We’re noncommercial and don’t receive compensation for mentioning brands. We recommend only what we like and buy with our own money.
  • BTW, vermouth has a relatively low alcohol quotient. So once it’s opened, it will start to oxidize. We store opened bottles in the refrigerator to retard the oxidization process.
  • Substitute dry vermouth for sweet in this recipe, and you have a drink called the Old Pal.

Street People

“Wow,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This drink deserves its own star on Hollywood Boulevard.”

“Great color, too,” I said. “It definitely has street appeal.”

“Have to watch out though,” said Mrs K R. “Too many of these could put us on the road to ruin.”

“Yup,” I said. “Have to use street smarts with this one.”

“But just one more would be OK,” said Mrs K R. “For the road.”

“That’s our limit,” I agreed. “Don’t want to wake up on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

You may also enjoy reading about:
Negroni Cocktail
Manhattan Cocktail
Martini Cocktail
Americano Cocktail
Rosita Cocktail
Scofflaw Cocktail
Cocktail Basics
Or check out the index for more

90 comments:

  1. We have a good friend who loves to try new drinks. Even carries his shaker and glasses with him to gatherings to share his latest finds. I'll pass this along to him. I guarantee he'll do a good job whipping a few up for the next Seahawk's game!

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    1. Hi Kristi, your friend will love this! Really excellent flavor. You'll enjoy the ones he makes. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Hi, John...I have to tell you, you do make the most magnificent looking cocktails. This is beautiful :) Pat

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    1. Hi Pat, this is a good one! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  3. You make amazing cocktails. The true is that since I follow your blog I've tried so many cocktails. Before I used to be a wine girl :D

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    1. Hi Marta, we used to be wine people too! Still are, mainly, but we obviously enjoy cocktails quite a bit too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. You seriously make the prettiest cocktails!!!!

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    1. Hi Pam, aw, shucks! Thanks so much for that kind comment.

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  5. Cocktail history is even more obscure than food history. So many expats in Paris between the wars, so much alcohol consumed!

    best.... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Mae, cocktails history is SO much fun! And you're right -- it can be obscure. Just adds to the fun. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. Your drinks are the most gorgeous colour! This ones beautiful!! Growing up, I always used to see Campari adds... the Martini & Rossi one, I don't see many in the US so this was a fun memory :)

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    1. Hi Nazneen, Campari is wonderful stuff -- love it! And love this cocktail, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. This is beautiful! I've been working on learning how to take studio photos. Of course I'm not any wehere near sharing those photos but hopefully someday, mine will look 1/2 as good as yours.

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    1. Hi Vicki, it's fun taking photos with lights! SO much you can do. And so much you can screw up, too. :-( It does take work to learn, but it's worth it. Thanks for the comment.

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  8. I've never tried gin because both of my parents hate it, so this might be more our speed. Although I really do want to try gin to decide for myself.

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    1. Hi Laura, gin is good stuff -- worth trying. But this is a wonderful drink, and I think I like this better than the gin-based Negroni. Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Looks delicious and I love the gorgeous color. This one sounds like it will warm someone up on a cool or rainy day. Thanks John!

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    1. Hi Cheri, this is definitely a somewhat warming drink. Perfect for fall, yes? :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. Oh myyyy! I should present this drink to my fiance when he walks through the door. Me in a trench coat. NO IDEA WHY that comes to mind when I look at this drink lol!

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    1. Hi GiGi, I'm sure your finance would enjoy that. Both the drink and your active imagination. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. It looks fabulous, John! Bourbon is great and I need to try this one! Love the color too! I bet Maker's Mark would work well... Thanks for the recipe and vermouth tip, I did not know that and will move it to the fridge! Take care

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    1. Hi Pam, haven't tried this with Maker's Mark but it'd probably work quite well. Thanks for the comment.

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  12. Yes- a negroni I have heard of! I love bourbon drinks and that this is perfect pre-dinner drink!!

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    1. Hi Ashley, the Negroni is a great drink! And we like this one even better. Really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  13. You are right! This would be a really nice cocktail before dinner on a cool fall evening. This one is a beauty,

    Velva

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    1. Hi Velva, love its hue! And its flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  14. This is such a great post and so informative,John. I just love your cocktail recipes, your photography is Outstanding. Cheers !!

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    1. Hi Rahul, fun drink, isn't it? Thanks for that kind comment.

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  15. I like the red color of this cocktail- Wild Turkey Bourbon- here I come!

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    1. Hi Fran, Wild Turkey is good stuff. As is this cocktail. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. The whisper of fall is all around us, the Boulevardier fits right in! I do like the idea of a cocktail before dinner, a sublime way to ease into the end of the day.

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    1. Hi Deb, a before dinner drink is so relaxing, isn't it? And perks up one's appetite. As if we need that. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  17. I have yet to taste Negroni, John. Love the name of the cocktail... and the colour is superb!

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    1. Hi Liz, a Negroni is wonderful -- something you should try sometime, IMO. And one of these too, of course! Thanks for the comment.

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  18. Boulevardier \boo-luh-var-DYAY\ noun

    A frequenter of city boulevards, especially in Paris. A sophisticated, worldly, and socially active man; a man who frequents fashionable places; a man-about-town.

    The boulevardier is a fav that's in my regular rotation! I pretend to be a boulevardier myself... GREG

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    1. Hi Greg, I'd pretend to be a boulevardier but Mrs KR would blow my cover. :-) Good drink, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

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  19. I never had a cocktail but seriously love the cocktail pictures. These pictures are so professionally taken. My dad would love to have this atleast once.

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    1. Hi Smitha, you need to make one of these for your dad! And even if you don't drink cocktails, they're fun to look at, aren't they? Thanks for the comment.

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  20. What a stunning drink and of course stunning photos. I actually have everything to make this cocktail in our little China bartender cabinet. I am excited for fall to be here and thanks for the perfect drink to celebrate the new season.

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    1. Hi Bobbi, this is a really good drink -- definitely one you should try, IMO. Enjoy! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  21. This looks so pretty. Gorgeous color. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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    1. Hi Kushi, isn't this pretty? Love the flavor too! Thanks for the comment.

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  22. I vote for the Wild Turkey version with lemon - sounds wonderful! We are hot this week but then the cool down begins. I'm ready for a change in the weather and ready to try this lovely drink! Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Hi Tricia, hot the last few days here but getting much cooler. Boulevardier Cocktail weather! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  23. I hope you have a professional photography studio, because your cocktail photos are right out of a magazine! I'm not fond of strong drinks, and I'm not fond of any brown booze, so I won't be making this, but it is pretty!

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    1. Hi Mimi, no pro studio, alas -- I take these in my basement! Although I do have some decent lights. Thanks for the comment.

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  24. What a rich gorgeous red this cocktail makes! I can see it becoming a holiday hit because of that rich color!

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    1. Hi Pamela, that color is nice, isn't it? Flavor is too! Thanks for the comment.

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  25. I agree John! This cocktail is most definitely a STAR! One for the books they might say:)

    Just curious John, Have you ever read the book Punch by David Wondrich?

    Thanks so much for sharing and thank you very, very much for those positive words on my blog. Much appreciated:)

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    1. Hi Louise, David Wondrich is probably my favorite cocktail writer, but no, I haven't read Punch yet. Need to get that -- it sounds so interesting. And glad to see you making the rounds again! Thanks for the comment.

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    2. It's a GREAT book John!!! You would enjoy it! If you get a chance, email me at acalenda {@} gmail I'll fill you in:) I thought I had your email but it looks like I don't.

      I'm going to try and make the rounds whenever I can:)

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    3. Hi Louise, will email you! And my email is on the contact page (easy to miss, I know).

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  26. I'm a gin girl myself, but I wouldn't turn one of these down! Love the name!

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    1. Hi Jean, gin is a favorite here, too, but this is really good! Better than a Negroni, I think. Thanks for the comment.

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  27. Such a gorgeous drink - and now I know how to avoid drinks becoming cloudy - unless they are citrus based or served on the rocks! Always awesome tips - though now I cannot stop thinking about a dandy wearing a boutonniere strolling along 5th avenue! :)

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    1. Hi Shashi, fun drink, isn't it? And yeah, that 5th avenue image! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  28. Well I love Negronis and I love bourbon! This is a winner for my for sure. I am off literally now to Maine for the weekend.....off to buy some booze in the US I cannot get here by your inspiration!

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    1. Hi Evelyne, you'll like this drink! Love a Negroni, but this is even better IMO. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  29. And here I thought a boulevardier was just a fancy name for a street walker. I'll definitely say yes next time I'm offered one. A boulevardier, that is.

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    1. Hi Jeff, well there's that, too. :-) Definitely say yes to a Boulevardier Cocktail! Thanks for the comment.

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  30. You do make the best drinks ever John. I love Campari just by itself. I saw several boulevardies strolling down 5th Avenue when I was in New York last week.

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    1. Hi Gerlinde, Campari all by itself is rather nice, isn't it? Although I probably have it more often in an Americano. And spotting a boulevardier is always good sport, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  31. What a lovely name and stunning photos and droolicious drink. Just the perfect drink to celebrate the new season. Thanks for sharing this

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    1. Hi Anu, this is really good stuff! Love it at this time of the year. Thanks for the comment.

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  32. Awesome cocktail John...this sure sounds and looks fabulous...I will have to try it!
    Have a wonderful weekend :)

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    1. Hi Juliana, it's a good one! Going to have one tonight, as a matter of fact. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  33. I love the color of this drink.. and it looks like I need one tonight

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    1. Hi Peachy, you probably do need -- or at least want -- one of these tonight. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  34. The only time I tried Campari was in a Bicicletta....wasn't a big fan. Might give this a go.

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    1. Hi Debra, Campari can be an acquired taste -- it's quite bitter. Still, it blends much better in this drink than it does in a Bicicletta IMO. There its flavor is front and center. In t his drink, it's in the background. Definitely worth trying this! Thanks for the comment.

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  35. Seems that you've mastered the art of cocktail my friend, your drinks have the prettiest color I've ever seen in a drink :), and I like the history that comes with it too. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Amira, we like the drinks, of course, but it's really the history that got us into cocktails! So interesting. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  36. That is such a pretty drink. It kinda looks like a cosmopolitan but no cranberry juice. I've never tried Campari.

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    1. Hi Nisha, I hadn't thought about it, but this does look a bit like a Cosmo. Kinda. Sorta. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  37. I've actually been laying off the booze due to a cold, but now that I'm on the mend this looks like just the trick to get acquainted again with the wonderful world of liquor. Love the idea of switching out the gin for bourbon as I'm a whiskey lover from way back. Bet I'd like this even more than Negroni!

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    1. Hi Frank, sorry to hear about the cold! You need one of these Strictly for medicinal purposes, of course. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  38. "Think of a dandy (wearing a boutonniere, of course) strolling along a swank boulevard" - Great way to remember this drink. :) A beautiful pre-dinner cocoktail!

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    1. Hi MJ, this is SUCH a good drink! Fun one, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  39. This sounds delicious, and what a great colour.

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    1. Hi Caroline, this is a really pretty -- and tasty! -- drink. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  40. I want to be a guest at your house. You make the best looking (and sounding) drinks!

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    1. Hi Chris, come any time! :-) You'd be most welcome. Thanks for the comment.

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  41. Immediately thought of a Manhattan, this sounds like a great sip for this time of year.

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    1. Hi Mary, this is definitely a lot like a Manhattan. Another good drink! Thanks for the comment.

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  42. What a beautiful cocktail and photo. I'm sure this is as delicious as it looks.

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    1. Hi Karen, this is really a good one. You'll want to give it a try. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  43. haha--I'll be waiting to see this cocktail on the avenue of stars, for sure! sounds great!

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    1. Hi Ala, it belongs there! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  44. John the color of this drink is just amazing! Sounds like a really nice cocktail for fall evening. As always, I love reading all of your history about the recipe! :)

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    1. Hi Marcelle, this is really a nice drink -- wonderful flavor. And that color! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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