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Bartender Notes

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Bartender Notes

January 11, 2017 - 5:24 PM

A Boulevardier with Blues Central’s Cory Leicester

Photo by Ammon Swenson

The Blues Central speakeasy at Williwaw takes cocktails seriously. Their 24-page menu features 90 cocktails from prohibition era classics to house specialties. Beverage director Cory Leicester has been making drinks for 16 years and wrote the menu. While he loves quality cocktails, he’s not pretentious about them. “A cocktail is such an individual experience, just like everything else,” he says.

Leicester is originally from Fort Collins, Colorado and served drinks to pay his way through school. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, but decided to follow his passion of working behind the bar. “It gets in your blood,” he says. Late in 2015, he moved to Anchorage to run the revamped Blues Central.

In his opinion, a good cocktail won’t require the most expensive booze you can find. Some of his favorites are on the more affordable side of the spectrum. For him, it’s all about quality ingredients—which doesn’t always translate to price. 

The Press asked him how to make a proper cocktail and he chose the classic Boulevardier. It’s a riff on a couple of drinks, most notably the Negroni. He says that while the bright flavors from a Negroni are perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day, the Boulevardier’s deep, rich flavors from using rye whiskey instead of gin make it ideal for relaxing on chilly nights after a hearty meal.

While the following recipe is Leicester’s preferred way of mixing up a Boulevardier, he says that the simplicity of the cocktail makes it ideal for experimentation. Don’t like the spicy notes of rye whiskey? Try substituting bourbon to sweeten it up.

“If the first one doesn’t do the trick, make another one,” Leicester says.


1 part Bulleit rye whiskey

1 part Campari

1 part Carpano Antica sweet vermouth


-Combine ingredients and stir in ice (about 10 seconds, 20-30 rotations)

-Strain over ice

-Cut orange peel, express oil over top and gently rub around rim of glass

-Garnish with orange peel