In case you missed it, the 2023 edition of Negroni Week has just come to an end – which means there has been a recent surge in creative takes on the quintessential bittersweet cocktail. Today, I’m pleased to share my original twist on the three-ingredient classic which I had the opportunity to stir up at Riviera‘s Negroni Party this past Sunday.
I’ve never worked behind a professional bar before and was terrified that I would make a fool of myself in front of some of the city’s best bartenders who were also serving up their own original Negroni variations throughout the evening. Luckily, my guest shift went swimmingly, I didn’t spill any drinks on myself or my new colleagues, and lots of enthusiastic drinkers ordered my tipple.
It appeared on the menu at Riviera under the moniker, “This Shit is Bananas” but thought “Banana Boulevardier” might be better for SEO purposes. Whatever you want to call it, I’m pleased to be sharing the recipe with you so you can enjoy this concoction from the comfort of your own home.
I was inspired by everyone’s early pandemic hobby: baking banana bread. As you well know, I *love* banana desserts and while I didn’t turn out daily loaves of banana bread in 2020, I do enjoy an elevated twist on the classic. This drink borrows the flavour profile from a chocolate tahini banana bread.
I even had the chance to stir this up and tell viewers about Negroni Week in a CTV Morning Live appearance last week:
In case you’re wondering, “Wait, isn’t a Boulevardier different from a Negroni?” Yes, it is. A Boulevardier follows the same structure as a Negroni but swaps out gin in favour of bourbon. In this example, I’ve opted for an overproof rye – preferably Rittenhouse – to give the drink some heft and incorporate some spicy cereal notes. The profile of the rye pairs beautifully with the banana liqueur and chocolate bitters – think Cheerios with sliced bananas served with chocolate milk. Campari, the herbal Italian liqueur brings balance and a lovely Spanish sweet vermouth rounds it out.
For the uninitiated, Negroni Week has been around since 2013, when Imbibe magazine and Campari decided to team up to host a weeklong international celebration of the classic Italian aperitif. Each year, the organizers select a different charitable partner and thousands of venues worldwide make a donation to the cause and offer a diversified menu of Negroni cocktails. More than $4 million has been raised since its inception.
A sweet and savoury riff on the classic Boulevardier (itself a variation of a Negroni) using banana liqueur, chocolate bitters, and a few drops of sesame oil for garnish.
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir over ice until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Add 3 drops of sesame oil to surface of the drink. Float a banana chip on top.