Who can resist a cocktail as comforting (in name, at least) as the Old Pal? Sure it’s got the spicy bite of rye whiskey and the bitter charm of Campari, but the unifying addition of dry vermouth brings it all together.
The Old Pal first appeared in the 1922 edition of “Harry’s ABC’s of Cocktails,” a drinks compendium compiled by the head barkeep of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Originally made with Canadian rye, as that was the prominent spirit of the time, today the Old Pal cocktail is more commonly concocted with American rye. Whichever your preference, this drink is stout and delicious–the perfect combination to brace yourself against a cold day. Or just your run-of-the-mill weekday.
The Old Pal recipe is similar in structure to the Boulevardier (bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth)–itself a derivative of the classic Negroni. But while both of these drinks utilize equal a 1:1:1 ratio of spirits, the Old Pal ups the base spirit. So here you’ve got two parts rye to one part each of dry vermouth and Campari. The result is a whiskey-forward drink, but one that remains in balance. It doesn’t take much for Campari to make its presence known, and the light, herbal dry vermouth really ties the room together, ensuring that nothing overpowers the other.
Old Pal Cocktail Recipe
1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
3/4 ounce Campari
Stir all ingredients with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Photo: Thirsty in LA