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Old Pal Cocktail

If you like classic drinks like the Negroni or the Boulevardier but would like something a little less sweet, look no further than the Old Pal.

Homemade Classic Old Pal Cocktail with lemon twist for garnish

It’s based on these classic drinks but takes away the mildness of sweet vermouth and packs a powerful, sippable punch. With just three ingredients, this cocktail is as easy to make as it is delicious and memorable.

History of the Old Pal Drink

Created in the New York City Bar of Paris, France, the Old Pal is known for its pungency and drinkability. On a cold winter’s night (or a warm summer one), you can find a friend in the Old Pal’s simplicity. 

You can’t discuss the Old Pal without talking about the classic cocktail, the Negroni, made from gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. One of the original variations of the Negroni, the Boulevardier, substituted bourbon whiskey for gin for a bit more of a kick. These two cocktails gave birth to our new friend, the Old Pal. 

When Harry MacElhone decided to switch out whiskey in a Negroni for gin, he invented the Boulevardier. However, he made one further change to the recipe. MacElhone swapped the sweet vermouth for dry vermouth, taking away most of the sweetness and adding to the spice of the drink. 

From there, the Old Pal was born. Harry MacElhone named it after the sports editor from the Paris office of the New York Herald, who was (you guessed it) an old friend of his. The Old Pal has been a classic ever since, ranking in popularity with the Boulevardier and other twists on the Negroni cocktail

How to Make an Old Pal

An Old Pal, like its close counterpart the Boulevardier, is remarkably easy to make. It’s a three-ingredient cocktail that you can make however you choose and play around with the amounts until you have the perfect drink. 

Homemade Classic Old Pal Cocktail with lemon twist for garnish

Old Pal

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

The Old Pal is a strong drink with three equally robust flavors. The whiskey provides a steady base for the zest of the Campari, and both are balanced out by dry vermouth.

The drink is very dry and packs a kick of spice and bitterness.


  • 1 ½ ounces rye whiskey 
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth 
  • 1 ounce Campari 
  • Lemon twist or wedge for garnish


  1. Mix all three ingredients in a mixing cup with ice until thoroughly chilled.
  2. Pour through a strainer into a chilled cocktail glass. 
  3. Garnish and enjoy! 

Did you make this recipe?

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Final Thoughts 

If you love a dry, warm drink, you’ll immediately make friends with the Old Pal. Its fire and spice will keep you coming back for more, and the exciting red color is sure to impress your drinking friends. Now that you can make an Old Pal, you won’t be wondering what to drink for cocktail hour. 

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Paul Kushner

I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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