“Boulevardier” is one of those words you don’t see very often. Literally, it means a man of the streets. “On the prowl” comes close to conveying this meaning. But boulevardier has a more broad connotation. For a boulevardier, being on the streets is a way of life. What type of life? Well, one might have quite a good time with the boulevardier. After all, he is a charmer and he knows where fashionable people go. He is quite the expert at sharing fun. But one should be careful not to trust the laughter too much. The boulevardeir lives for excitement, not necessarily deep feeling.
Hmmm … what does this look like? I think of Omar Sharif playing Nick Armstein in William Wyler’s 1968 smash hit Funny Girl. Poor Barbara Streisand makes the mistake of falling in love with him. Oops! Ah well, it makes for quite a story.
David Niven plays the dangerous boulevardier with a more comical twist (along with a very young Robert Wagner who is trying to “learn the ropes”) in one of my favorite films, The Pink Panther made by Blake Edwards back in 1963
But the boulevardier is not always dangerous. Melvyn Douglas played the boulevardier as romantic in Ernst Lubitsch’s 1939 classic Ninotchka
Indeed, the boulevardier might be a hero like William Powell in The Thin Man
Of course there will always be Humphrey Bogart’s Rick in Casablanca, one of the all time great boulevardiers!
And let’s not forget the reformed boulevardier. Cary Grant plays this rather well in Hitchock’s stylish 1955 flick, To Catch a Thief
But should one use a word with such a distinguished pedigree to name a drink? It has been done already. Cocktails blog offers its “boulevardier”. Dash of Bitters offers a similar recipe. It is a variation on the negroni, with bourbon replacing the gin. Or one might think of this as a variation of the manhattan, with compari instead of bitters. Nice idea, but is this really the drink for a boulevardier?
I will leave that to you.