Old Pal Cocktail

old pal cocktailWho 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 Originally made with Canadian rye, as that was the prominent spirit of the time, today the Old Pal cocktail is more commonly concocted with American rye.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

Written by Kevin Gray


  1. Tweets that mention Old Pal Cocktail Recipe - How to Make an Old Pal Cocktail | Cocktail Enthusiast -- · January 14, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kevin Gray, Paradise Nation. Paradise Nation said: Old Pal Cocktail :: CocktailEnthsiast […]

  2. Jenn · January 14, 2011

    I enjoyed an Old Pal for the first time the other night. Its part of my “getting to know” dry vermouth– we are becoming friends.

  3. Jasmine Cocktail | Law & Libations · April 19, 2011

    […] I’ve so far been introduced to some incredible concotions like the Boulevardier and the Old Pal. But when Derek Brown (@betterdrinking) tweeted an ode to Campari the other day, I was drawn to a […]

  4. chris · March 26, 2012

    Jenn, the Chrysanthemum is also awesome.

  5. The May 29th Spirits of Mexico NYC Festival In Photos | Flavorful World food and drink blog · June 2, 2013

    […] varieties, I tasted an Amigo Viejo, which I was told is a variation on a classic cocktail called an Old Pal.

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