Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Rye Whiskey Cocktails

Old Pal

old pal cocktail with a lemon twist and blue background / Tim Nusog

The classic Negroni has crossed the lips of millions of drinkers since it was created in Italy in the early 20th century. Like many beloved drinks, it has also hatched too many variations to count, from simple spirit swaps to more elaborate divergences. One of the most successful variations is the Boulevardier, a drink created in the 1920s by famed bartender and author Harry MacElhone of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.

This is not that; this is the Old Pal, an offshoot of the Boulevardier that was also first stirred by MacElhone around the same time. As the story goes, MacElhone named the cocktail for William “Sparrow” Robinson, the sports editor for The New York Herald in Paris.

The Boulevardier features bourbon, Campari and sweet vermouth in a whiskey-spiked tweak to the Negroni, while the Old Pal follows suit by requesting rye whiskey and Campari. But, notably, the Old Pal calls for dry vermouth. The three-ingredient drink is still spirit-forward and potent, but given the lighter choice of vermouth and the zesty lemon peel garnish, it drinks lighter than its richer sibling.

The classic Old Pal recipe is built with equal parts of each ingredient, just like the Negroni. However, some modern recipes increase the rye whiskey while decreasing both the Campari and dry vermouth. The latter formula is often made in a 2:1:1 ratio for a slightly boozier take on the original. Play with the recipe to see which construction you prefer, but know that both options produce tasty, balanced cocktails that are the warm, whiskey-spiked equivalent of an old friend. Drink up, and you may find a faithful companion for life.


  • 1 ounce rye whiskey

  • 1 ounce Campari

  • 1 ounce dry vermouth

  • Garnish: lemon twist


  1. Add the rye whiskey, Campari and dry vermouth into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

  3. Garnish with a lemon twist.