Old Pal

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Cocktail History

The Old Pal is a classic cocktail that was created by bartender Harry MacElhone in the early 1900s at his bar Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France. It’s one of two popular variations of the Negroni that call for equal-parts spirit, vermouth, Campari, and citrus. This version swaps out the gin for an aged whiskey and sweet vermouth for dry, and it’s believed to have been named for William Harrison “Sparrow” Robertson, a writer at the Herald Tribune who used to call everyone he met “old pal.”

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Rye: This is a type of whiskey made with at least 51% rye grain, malted barley, corn, and water. We used Sazerac Rye 18-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey because it has a nice spiced flavor with notes of vanilla, pepper, and herbs. For a mocktail version of this drink, try The Gospel Responsible Rye Non-Alcoholic Whiskey in place of the whiskey.

Dry Vermouth: This is a fortified wine made with grapes, sugar, botanicals, herbs, sugar, and alcohol. We used Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry because it has a light and airy flavor profile with notes of Alpine herbs. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Apéritif Dry in place of the dry vermouth.

Campari: This is a liqueur made in Italy with gentian root, rhubarb, citrus, herbs, aromatic plants, fruit, and alcohol. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Giffard Non-Alcoholic Bitter Syrup in place of the bitter liqueur.

Orange Twist: This is the peel of an orange that has been twisted into a corkscrew shape.

Bartending Tools

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following bar tools:

Jigger: This is used to measure and pour ingredients. We used the Japanese jigger from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Mixing Glass: This is used to hold the ingredients while they’re being stirred. We used the Viski 17 oz Cocktail Mixing Glass.

Bar Spoon: This is used to stir ingredients. We used the Barfly Stainless Steel Teardrop Bar Spoon.

Julep Strainer: This is used to strain out ice and solid ingredients after the cocktail is stirred. We used the A Bar Above Julep Strainer.

Ice Mold: This is used to make a clear ice cube. We used the BERLINZO Premium Clear Ice Cube Maker Mold.

Peeler: This is used to remove the garnish peel from the citrus. We used the OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Peeler Set.

Tasting Notes

The Old Pal features aromas of whiskey and Campari, tastes of whiskey balanced by the vermouth at first, and ends with the bitter aftertaste of the Campari.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: This is an incredibly dry and equally as bitter cocktail that landed it at the bottom of the Negroni variations Alex usually enjoys; he liked the Old Pal but not more than the Negroni or Boulevardier. And Kendall couldn’t handle more than a sip. Maybe someday she’ll be able to take the bitterness of Campari.

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Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

Take Our Quiz →

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from The Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Book: Appropriate Libations for All Occasions by Lou Bustamante.

Sale
The Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Book: Appropriate Libations for All Occasions (Downton Abbey Cookery)
The Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Book: Appropriate Libations for All Occasions (Downton Abbey Cookery)
Hardcover Book; Downton Abbey (Author); English (Publication Language); 160 Pages – 09/17/2019 (Publication Date) – Weldon Owen (Publisher)
$17.69 Amazon Prime

AuthorThe Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Book

Yields1 ServingPrep Time5 mins

Ingredients
 1 oz Rye
 1 oz Dry Vermouth
 1 oz Campari
 1 Orange Twist

Method
1

Add rye, vermouth, Campari, and cubed ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass over a clear ice ball.

4

Garnish with orange twist.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 1 oz Rye
 1 oz Dry Vermouth
 1 oz Campari
 1 Orange Twist

Directions

Method
1

Add rye, vermouth, Campari, and cubed ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass over a clear ice ball.

4

Garnish with orange twist.

Old Pal

Make It a Mocktail: Use The Gospel Responsible Rye Non-Alcoholic Whiskey in place of the whiskey, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Apéritif Dry in place of the dry vermouth, and Giffard Non-Alcoholic Bitter Syrup in place of the bitter liqueur to try a booze-free version of this drink.

Shop Glassware & Tools

Find collections of cocktail glassware and bartending tools we recommend for your home bar in our Amazon shop.

Marquis by Waterford Markham Double Old Fashion Set of 4, 11 oz, Clear
Marquis by Waterford Markham Double Old Fashion Set of 4, 11 oz, Clear
Marquis by Waterford Markham Collection; Made from Lead Free Crystalline; 11 ounce Capacity
Amazon Prime
Sale
Reed & Barton Crystal Set of Double Old Fashions, Set of 4
Reed & Barton Crystal Set of Double Old Fashions, Set of 4
Design incorporates deep contemporary linear cuts.; One of the most popular patterns in crystal barware.
$116.00 Amazon Prime
Sale
Riedel Drink Specific Glassware Rocks Glass,9.98 oz
Riedel Drink Specific Glassware Rocks Glass,9.98 oz
All Riedel glasses are dishwasher safe; Capacity is 9.98 ounces; glass size is 3.23Lx3.23Wx3.27H (Inches)
$36.13
OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Peeler Set - Swivel and Julienne
OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Peeler Set – Swivel and Julienne
Sharp, durable, Japanese stainless steel blades won’t rust; Straight Peeler all-purpose design for effortless prep
$16.95 Amazon Prime

More Campari Cocktails

If you like this Campari cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Desert Bird Cocktail Recipe

Desert Bird: A tequila and mezcal cocktail made with pineapple gum syrup, Campari, lime juice, saline solution, and a lime wheel

Bicicletta Cocktail Recipe

Bicicletta: A white wine cocktail made with Campari, soda water, and a lemon wheel

Rhubarb & Gingerbread Negroni Cocktail Recipe

Rhubarb & Gingerbread Negroni: A gin cocktail made with Campari, sweet vermouth, gingerbread syrup, and an orange peel

Garibaldi Cocktail Recipe

Garibaldi: A Campari cocktail made with orange juice and an orange slice

This post contains affiliate links, meaning we make a small commission each time you purchase a product using our links. Product images sourced from Amazon Product Advertising API. Amazon affiliate links last updated on 2024-02-26.

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