The Old Pal

Old Pal Cocktail

Latest reason for not posting: We moved into a new house. A house we bought! How crazy is that? In the new house we have what we’re calling the barway; it’s basically perfect and I can’t wait to get a few more bar items (ice bucket and ice crusher), put up the devil wallpaper, and really get shakin’.

We gave away a bunch of liquor to our lovely and wonderful moving team but we still have the Campari so my quest to use up the bottle continues! I found this when I was searching for good, strong rye-based cocktails. The Old Pal has a past shrouded in mystery and goofy humor. It first appeared in the 1927 Barflies and Cocktails by Harry MacElhone (check out that delightful cover). The story/recipe below appears in the book and was written by Arthur Moss, a friend of MacElhone.

I remember way back in 1878, on the 30th of February to be exact, when the Writer was discussing this subject with my old pal “Sparrow” Robertson and he said to yours truly, “get away with that stuff, my old pal, here’s the drink I invented when I fired the pistol the first time at the old Powderhall foot races and you can’t go wrong if you put a bet down on 1/3 Canadian Club, 1/3 Eyetalian Vermouth, and 1/3 Campari,” and then he told the Writer that he would dedicate this cocktail to me and call it, My Old Pal.

While the recipe calls for “Eyetalian” (sweet) vermouth it’s generally made with French (dry). Made as described the cocktail would basically be its relative, the Boulevardier.
The Boulevardier (bourbon, sweet vermouth) is a cousin of the Negroni (gin, sweet vermouth), the 1794 (rye, sweet vermouth) and probably a number of other drinks made with roughly equal portions spirit, Campari (or other bitter), and vermouth. A happy, bitter, cocktail family.
As far as these family members go I am most partial to the Negroni. I feel like the rye has a bite which competes with the Campari and isn’t mellowed at all by a dry vermouth. It was a strong drink, though, so points for that!

1 part Rye whiskey
1 part Campari
1 part French (dry) vermouth

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel if fancy.