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Old Pal Recipe

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Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Leah Hall

Definitely not a sweet cocktail, this Old Pal Cocktail Recipe is a good choice! Trading sweet vermouth for dry, this is a tart and dry drink that is like a Boulevardier (which has sweet vermouth)!


The Old Pal cocktail recipe is a slight change up of both the Boulevardier and the Negroni.

top shot of red Old Pal cocktail recipe in coupe with edible flowers and lemon peel

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Campari being poured into mixing glass with ice

The Boulevardier features bourbon, Campari and sweet vermouth in a whiskey version of the Negroni, while the Old Pal uses rye whiskey and Campari. But, the Old Pal uses dry vermouth. This three ingredient drink is spirit forward, but by using dry vermouth and lemon peel garnish, it drinks lighter than the Boulevardier.


The Negroni on the other hand is gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. There are other variations of Negronis, (Sbagliato or White Negroni). All these 3 ingredient cocktails are easy to make, and oh so tasty!

Red Old Pal Cocktail Recipe being stirred in mixin glass with ice

Old Pal Cocktail Recipe

The classic Old Pal cocktail recipe is made with equal parts of each ingredient, just like the Negroni. There are some modern recipes that increase the rye and decreasing both the Campari and dry vermouth. You can play with the recipe to see which combination you prefer.


Enter the Old Pal. Using a base of rye whiskey, this cocktail has a strong foundation of flavor to support the other strongly flavored ingredient, Campari, which gives the drink a bitterness that is rich and complex.


With dry vermouth being the B team the combination is strong, and so tasty!

Red Old Pal cocktail recipe being poured from mixing glass into coupe glass

Both the Negroni and Boulevardier were created in the 1920s.


History of the Old Pal Cocktail

Harry MacElhone, proprietor of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France, is recognized as the first to publish this recipe. MacElhone named this cocktail after William “Sparrow” Robinson, a sports editor for The New York Herald in Paris. The Boulevardier was also invented by MacElhone. (His son Andy made the Blue Lagoon).

Red cocktail in coupe with lemon peel on edge, mixing glass behind

It first showed up in print in 1922 in Harry McElhone‘s The ABC of Mixing Cocktails.  The Negroni is first mentioned in 1919 and is said to have originated when Count Negroni ordered an Americano (sweet vermouth, Campari and club soda) with gin instead of the club soda. 


Dry Vermouth vs Sweet Vermouth

Vermouth is a fortified wine, which means liquor has been added to stabilize it. (It does need to be stored chilled!) There are two main types of vermouth: sweet and dry.

  • Sweet vermouth is usually red. (Can be rose) The flavor is sweet and spicy, with a usual hint of bitter when finishing. Sweet vermouth is used in many classic cocktails: most famously the Manhattan, Negroni and the Blood & Sand.
  • Dry vermouth The flavor is crisp, dry, sometimes finishes tangy, usually white. Dry white vermouth is used in cocktails like a Dirty Martini and a Scofflaw.


While the red color of this liqueur makes it look like it could be sweet, Campari is an Italian bitter. Campari is what makes a Negroni, a Negroni, and is used in lots of other cocktails. It is infused with different herbs and fruits, and is complex: bitter, fruity and spicy all together! We know people that either love it or hate it, I don’t think there is an in between! Get a bottle for this Old Pal, and you can make a whole lot of cocktails:

Red cocktail in coupe with lemon peel on edge, mixing glass behind

So in conclusion, the Old Pal Cocktail Recipe is bitter, dry, and delicious. Not having sweet vermouth means this drink has bitterness late in the flavor profile, as almost a surprise at the end of the sip. It isn’t a bitter bomb like a Negroni or Boulevardier.


Because the drink is naturally more dry and delicate than its cousins, you can even use a high proof rye if you would like.

Red cocktail in coupe with lemon peel on edge, mixing glass behind



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Like this recipe? Try these below, too!

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Other Campari Cocktails

Red cocktail in coupe with lemon peel on edge, mixing glass behind
Yield: 1

Old Pal Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This Old Pal Cocktail Recipe is a classic! A tasty combo of Rye whiskey, dry vermouth and Campari!


  • 1 ounce Rye Whiskey
  • 1 ounce Dry Vermouth
  • 1 ounce Campari


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir to chill, about 30 seconds. Strain into coupe.
  3. Garnish with lemon peel if desired.
  4. Cheers!

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Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 182Carbohydrates: 8.9g

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