Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Old Pal Cocktail

The Old Pal Cocktail

Make friends with a Prohibition-era charmer

The Old Pal is practically cocktail royalty. His daddy is the classic Negroni. And his sibling is the charming Boulevardier Cocktail.

The Old Pal himself sports rye, dry vermouth, and Campari. That makes him the lightest, driest, and spiciest of the trio.

Just the personality you want in an old pal, no?


The Old Pal Cocktail

 Recipe: The Old Pal Cocktail

As with many classic cocktails, there’s a bit of mystery surrounding the drink’s origins. More in the Notes.

But it’s clear that the Old Pal is related to the Negroni -– a wonderful mixture of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. And to the Boulevardier, which uses bourbon in place of gin.

This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.

Ingredients
  • 1 ounce rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth (French white vermouth)
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • garnish of a lemon or orange twist (optional; see Notes)
Procedure
  1. Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a mixing glass half filled with ice. Stir briskly with a bar spoon or other long-handled spoon until the contents are well chilled (about 30 seconds).
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that’s been chilled. Add garnish, if desired, and serve.
The Old Pal Cocktail

Notes
  • Why stir rather than shake? Because all the ingredients in this cocktail are clear. Shaking can introduce oxygen bubbles, which cloud the drink. 
  • That said, we often shake anyway. It’s easier – and the oxygen bubbles dissipate quickly.
  • A lemon twist garnish is traditional in this drink. But a twist of orange goes particularly well with Campari, so we often use that.
  • When this drink first became popular (during the 1920s), it called for Canadian whiskey, which generally uses rye as the predominant grain. A good rye whiskey, like bourbon or scotch, needs to age. But this was the Prohibition era, when demand for Canadian spirits was soaring in the US. So Canadian distillers started diluting their aged rye with neutral grain spirits. The alcoholic quotient was the same, but the flavor was diluted. 
  • Nowadays, there are many good Canadian whiskies that don’t use neutral grain spirits. But the more popular brands that you’re likely to see in the US still do.
  • For that reason, most modern recipes for the Old Pal call for rye whiskey. We like to use Rittenhouse 100. If you don’t already have a favorite brand of rye, ask your friendly liquor store for a recommendation.
  • The original version of this drink may have specified sweet vermouth rather than dry. But using sweet vermouth turns this drink into a rye-based version of The Boulevardier.
  • Speaking of The Boulevardier: It was popularized by Harry McElhone, who owned and operated Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. The Boulevardier was actually the brainchild of Erskine Gwynne, a frequent patron at Harry’s.
  • McElhone also made the Old Pal famous. The drink was named after William “Sparrow” Robinson, a sportswriter for the Paris office of the New York Herald Tribune. Robinson was well known around Paris, and his friends often called him “Old Pal.”
  • So did McElhone create the Old Pal? Or did Robinson invent it himself? No one knows for sure. A recipe for the drink first appeared in McElhone’s 1927 book Barflies and Cocktails. But one story claims that Robinson actually invented the drink in 1878. Choose the tale you like best.
The Old Pal Cocktail

Bosom Buddies

“How do you do?” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “I love to make friends with new drinks.”

“And this is one I can buddy up to,” I said.

“Right now, though, I’m a friend in need,” said Mrs K R. “Of another round. Want to mix one up?”

Sure thing. That’s what old pals are for.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Negroni Cocktail
Boulevardier Cocktail
Americano Cocktail
Dubonnet Cocktail
Leap Year Cocktail
Martinez Cocktail
Cocktail Basics
Or check out the index for more

48 comments:

  1. I would love to make friends with this royal looking drink.

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  2. Hi Balvinder, you'd pretty soon be best buddies. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Such a fun drink! Awesome clicks too.

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  4. Hi Angie, it's a terrific drink! Think we'll have it again this weekend. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. I know I'd like this one...Rye whiskey is my favorite.

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  6. Hi Pam, rye is terrific, isn't it? My favorite whiskey, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Hi R, to you, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  8. Well, old pal, I'd consider it an honor to share this with you. Wouldn't that be fun? Aster all, I think I've known you longer than many of my friends!

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  9. Hi Abbe, I'd love to share this with you! And we've known each other, virtually at least, forever. You were one of my first blogging pals. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. Your cocktails are all very nice, but some of us miss receiving your yummy food recipes, as well. Best of health to you & your loved ones.

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  11. John, you did it again. I love Campari. My husband only drinks scotch, can I substitute that for the rye whiskey. I know it’s a dumb question but I know little about whiskey. Prost !

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  12. Hi Anonymous, don't worry, another food post next week. And one last week, of course. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  13. Hi Gerlinde, the scotch doesn't sound all that terrific to me, but who knows? Experiments, even failed ones (which I think this might be) are always interesting. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  14. We love negroni's so we are sure we are going to love this cocktail too. Looking bright and lovely. Hope you are staying well. Take Care

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  15. Hi Bobbi, the Negroni is a lovely drink, isn't it? One of our favorites! And this is awfully good, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. love your photos KR. And i like the sound of this cocktail, but then again, i pretty much like the sound of any cocktail, especially when it's clinking in my glass:-)

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  17. Hi Sherry, only better sound than a cocktail shaker is the cocktail itself clinking in your glass. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  18. Hi Natalia, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

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  19. Another lovely looking drink! I'm always impressed with your cocktails.

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  20. Hi Amy, this is a good one! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  21. You're the king of cocktails! Keep them coming! Love your tip about stirring and not shaking.

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  22. Hi Ashley, it's good to be king! :D Thanks for the comment.

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  23. Cheers to Moms out there. It is perfect to celebrate the date and other occasions.

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  24. Hi Denise, yup, our Moms our our best pal ever, right? :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  25. If it's a relative of the Negroni, then I'm sure I would love this Old Pal. I love a good Negroni, and have been shaking them up fairly regularly during this shelter-in-place. LOL

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  26. Hi Carolyn, great activity for while you shelter in place. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  27. Welcome back, old pal! I'm glad you've returned to drink mixing, because cocktail hour observation has been on the uptick in my house since the pandemic, and we need new recipes!

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  28. Hi Jeff, we've got plenty of drink recipes. Plenty! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  29. Such a beautiful color, John — and the flavor sounds perfect for us. Can’t wait to get out and restock the hooch cabinet. Definitely don’t have rye on hand.

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  30. Hi David, luckily our favorite wine/liquor store has curbside pickup. Last time we were there, they said they were busier than ever. But they missed seeing their customers in person -- the telephone is good, but isn't the same. :-( Thanks for the comment.

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  31. I love specialty drinks for entertaining---and this is a beauty!!

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  32. Hi Liz, this is good for Friday evenings, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  33. Beautiful cocktail color, blazing red !.

    Nice sharing.
    Greetings from Indonesia

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  34. Hi Himawan, great flavor, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  35. Hi :) This post is very interesting
    I am following you and invite you to me
    https://milentry-blog.blogspot.com

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  36. A real beautiful drink. I would love to have a taste.

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  37. Hi Milentry, good drink, huh? :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  38. Hi Dawn, it's pretty! And good. Great combo. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  39. I took a cocktail class last year that featured the negroni and boulevardier, but not the old pal. Now I'm bummed because I think this would be my favorite. Thanks for sharing it.

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  40. Hi Laura, I think the Negroni is still our favorite, but I'll happily sip any of the three. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  41. Sounds lovely! I'd love to give it a try.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Hi Amalia, it's really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  42. This drink sounds and looks so elegant...with deep flavors in it...thanks John for the recipe. Your pictures are always so nice and tempting.

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    1. Hi Juliana, the flavor of this is terrific. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  43. Nice! Three of my favorite liquors in one drink. I wish I had read this yesterday before I made myself a Campari soda. It was fine but this would have been a new experience...

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    1. Hi Frank, the Negroni is still our favorite, but this is really worth trying. It's a nice change. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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