Pure Gould on Sunset Boulevardier and Chivas Regal

Patience Gould sees in the new year with a Sunset Boulevardier – and celebrates the latest from Chivas Regal

Billed as “a delicious aperitif cocktail to tantalise your taste buds”, I can report that the Sunset Boulevardier does not disappoint. In truth, to aid and abet the muse and to celebrate the fact this column kicks off the new year, I have one on the go right now! It’s di-i-i-vine! “But, what,” I hear you cry, “is a Sunset Boulevardier?”  

The Sunset Boulevardier is the brainchild of Max Warner, Chivas Regal’s erstwhile global brand ambassador, and is one of a six-strong range of “fortified classics” concocted to celebrate the launch of Chivas Regal Extra, but more of the latter later. Aside from the Sunset Boulevardier, the range comprises the Modern Dandy, the Silver Fox Fizz, the Gentleman’s Agreement, the Velvet Bomb and the Bayswater.

These cocktails are not for the fainthearted as they all rely on the richer flavours of fortified spirits such as Lillet, sherry and port. In addition, the Gentleman’s Agreement includes Chivas Extra as well as mezcal Del Maguey, while the Modern Dandy combines Plymouth gin with the newly launched scotch. But, back to the Sunset Boulevardier…

I confess that après Christmas lunch on the train home I was having a rummage in my goody bag and was somewhat dismayed to see the list of ingredients detailed on the SB’s recipe card included therein. 

Consider: 50ml Chivas Regal Extra; 20ml Regal Rogue Rosso vermouth; 20ml Lillet Rose; 2ml peach bitters; 2ml Regan’s Orange Bitters; 15ml cherry liqueur and 5ml sugar. Phew!

It reminded me of the first time I decided to make my first significant curry. I went shopping for the ingredients and when I got home I needed a new kitchen cupboard just to house them. That was certainly a couple of decades ago and I’m sure a few remain out of sight and out of mind! But I digress…

Happily though, on further rummaging I pulled out a 250ml bottle which was a premix of all the ingredients apart from the scotch. How incredibly thoughtful of the Chivas team I thought, quite suddenly full of the festive spirit and general bonhomie.

These six cocktails have been inspired by some of the world’s classics. Much like great jazz is a variation on a theme tune, both the SB and Silver Fox Fizz are variations on a proven mix.

The SB is modelled on the Rob Roy, which combines dry or sweet vermouth with scotch whisky. Name-wise though it’s more akin to the Boulevardier, which has been around since the late 1920s and was included in Harry McElhone’s 1927 bar guide, Barflies and Cocktails. Apparently it was the signature drink of one Erskine Gwynne, nephew of the railroad tycoon Alfred Vanderbilt. 

Gwynne was editor of the Paris-based Boulevardier magazine, hence the cocktail’s name. This is a nifty mix of bourbon, Campari and vermouth and is widely considered the precursor to the Negroni, which would only appear some 20 years later.

As to the Silver Fox Fizz, this is a stronger version of the traditional Fizz and includes kümmel and egg whites “for smoothness and moreishness” – or so I’m reliably informed. Come to that I would certainly describe Chivas Regal Extra as moreish.