Photo: Tim Miner

Photo: Tim Miner

It would appear that I've fallen down a bit of a rabbit hole; consumed with cocktails that are, at their heart, variations on variations of classics. Today I'm talking about The Old Pal. A variation on the Boulevardier which is itself a variation on the granddaddy of 'em all... The Negroni. Like its brethren, The Old Pal is simple in execution. The combination of Rye, Campari and dry vermouth is endlessly complex on the palate. Like the Boulevardier it has some spice from the rye and a good bitterness from the Campari but where the Boulevardier is dragged down by the rich, chocolaty, goodness of sweet vermouth, The Old Pal is made both lighter and softer with a beautiful floral nose all thanks to the dry vermouth. And can we talk about the stunning, vermillion hue? Paint should be sold in this color!

Like most Negroni variations, this is one of my back pocket drinks. I know when I send this out to a guest who wants me to "surprise him" that it will be well received. Sometimes with a smile of recognition as if to say, "Oh yeah, I forgot about this one." Other times the guest is clearly tasting it for the first time but there is just enough about it that is familiar and comfortable. Either way, I'm happy and so is my guest. Next time you're entertaining, mix up a batch of Old Pals and watch your guests faces light up!

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1.5 oz. Rye (I like Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond)
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. Dry Vermouth (I like Dolin)
  • Mixing Glass
  • Jiggers (1/2-3/4oz and 1-2 oz)
  • Barspoon
  • Julep Strainer
  • Ice
  • Cocktail Glass

Combine the Rye, Campari and Dry Vermouth together in the mixing glass. Add the ice and stir to chill and dilute. Strain into your chilled cocktail glass. That's it. The Old Pal!