Sesame Boulevardier

October 27, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Molly Fitzsimons.
  • Prep time 1 minute
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

Thanksgiving can be a challenging holiday for drinks. Usually you’ve got a wide range of guests, plus a menu that tends to skew towards big, meaty and fatty flavors that are not always an ideal match for fancy wine or food—although I bet my wine nerd friends would beg to differ.

When planning out a Thanksgiving meal, just about the last thing I want to do is spend a few hours meticulously crafting a cocktail that requires a lot of time spent away from the table day-of, which is why I love to sandbag drinks. The Boulevardier, a cousin of the iconic Negroni, is a great example of a drink you can prepare ahead of time, and simply pour whenever the mood strikes—you don’t even need to shake or stir.

Rather than settle for by-the-book Boulevardier, however. I’ve folded in a few attention-grabbing augmentations. First is the addition of pineapple liqueur, a reference to Rick Martinez’s Turkey Al Pastor, which brightens the drink up and adds a touch of sweetness and acidity to cut through the heavier flavors on the table. Second is an infusion of black sesame into Averna, a Sicilian bitter liqueur (amaro) that stands in for the Campari that is usually found in a traditional Boulevardier. (If you’re feeling lazy, you can skip the infusion, but you really shouldn’t. It’s a super easy blender method that adds a mysterious, savory-earthy character that seems to come out of left field, but totally makes sense once you get it in the glass.)

Make life easy and mix this drink a day or two in advance and let it hang out in the fridge until the time is right; I developed this drink to serve as a digestif-style palate cleanser between the savory and sweet courses of a Thanksgiving (or any) meal. —John deBary

Test Kitchen Notes

This dish is part of Residentsgiving—aka the Thanksgiving menu of our wildest dreams—created by Food52's resident experts-slash-superheroes. Devour the rest of the spread here, and while you're at it, learn how to Remix & Remaster your Thanksgiving. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Sesame Boulevardier
  • Sesame Boulevardier
  • 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) Tennessee whiskey
  • 8 ounces (1 1/4 cups) Italian sweet vermouth
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) pineapple liqueur (such as Drillaud or Gifford)
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) black sesame-infused Averna amaro (recipe below)
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) filtered water
  • Black Sesame-Infused Averna Amaro
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) Averna amaro
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, stirring briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to a non-reactive container such as a glass bottle or covered pitcher and chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours, and up to 24.
  2. To serve, pour about a half cup of the batch into a chilled old fashioned glass. Garnish by expressing a lemon peel over the top of the drink and then discarding the peel. Peels can also be prepared up to eight hours in advance if kept wrapped in a moist towel and in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat oven to 350°F. Spread 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds on a sheet pan and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Combine toasted seeds and Averna in a blender and blend on high for 30 to 45 seconds, until seeds are pulverized and liquid is milky. Transfer to a container and leave in the refrigerator to infuse for 2 hours. After 2 hours strain with a very fine-mesh strainer such as a gold coffee filter. This infusion will keep in the refrigerator for up to two months.

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1 Review

Rebecca O. December 24, 2021
Earthier, mellower version of a boulevardier that I found much easier to sip on. Love!