Old Pal Cocktail Recipe

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Old Pal Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Old Pal cocktail is a classic drink that dates back to the Prohibition era. It was first created by Harry MacElhone, the owner of Harry's New York Bar in Paris. The Old Pal is a variation of the Negroni, but it uses rye whiskey instead of gin and dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth. This cocktail is perfect for those who enjoy a strong, spirit-forward drink with a hint of bitterness.

  • Origin: Prohibition era
  • Creator: Harry MacElhone
  • Bar: Harry's New York Bar in Paris

How Old Pal Tastes?

The Old Pal is a strong, spirit-forward cocktail with a hint of bitterness. It has a dry, slightly spicy taste from the rye whiskey, balanced by the herbal and bitter notes of the Campari and dry vermouth.

Interesting facts about Old Pal

  • The Old Pal is a variation of the Negroni, but with rye whiskey and dry vermouth.
  • It was created during the Prohibition era, making it a classic cocktail.
  • The name 'Old Pal' is believed to have been a nod to the camaraderie and friendship that was often found in speakeasies during Prohibition.


Rye Whiskey

Rye whiskey is the bold, spicy backbone of the Old Pal. At 1.5 oz, it balances strength and flavor without overwhelming the palate. If you go nuts and pour like you're trying to fill a swimming pool, you’ll throw off the balance—less rye, and your cocktail becomes a wallflower. No rye? Bourbon could step in, but expect a sweeter and less robust Old Pal.

Mary Mitkina


Campari brings the bitter charm to the mix at a neat 0.75 oz. It’s like that bitter friend who’s always honest—it might sting, but it’s often refreshing. Too much, and it'll bully the other flavors; too little, and it's like a party without music. No Campari? Aperol could play understudy, but it’ll be a sweeter show.

Emma Rose

Dry Vermouth

Dry vermouth, at a delicate 0.75 oz, is like a classy chaperone that makes sure everyone plays nicely. It brightens the cocktail with its herbal twinkle. More vermouth, and you'll find yourself in a herb garden; less, and the symmetry collapses. Swap it with sweet vermouth, and your Old Pal is now a Boulevardier—darker and sweeter.

Alex Green

Orange Twist

The orange twist is the zesty garnish that wakes up the senses with a citrusy cheer. Twist it, and it's like sunshine on a rainy day. Skip the twist, and you're missing out on those bright top notes. No fresh orange? Lemon could work, but expect a tarter finish.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Old Pal Drink

  1. Gather ingredients
    • Rye whiskey, Campari, dry vermouth, and an orange twist.
  2. Fill a mixing glass
    • Add ice to a mixing glass.
  3. Measure and pour
    • Add 1.5 oz of rye whiskey, 0.75 oz of Campari, and 0.75 oz of dry vermouth to the mixing glass.
  4. Stir
    • Stir the ingredients together until well chilled.
  5. Strain
    • Strain the mixture into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
  6. Garnish
    • Express the oils from an orange twist over the drink and place it on the rim of the glass.

Pro Tips

  • Use high-quality ingredients
    • The taste of your Old Pal will greatly depend on the quality of the rye whiskey, Campari, and dry vermouth you use.
  • Chill your glass
    • A chilled glass will keep your cocktail cooler for longer, enhancing the overall drinking experience.
  • Stir, don't shake
    • Stirring the cocktail will ensure a smoother, clearer drink.

Perfect Pairings

Cheese Platter

A selection of bold cheeses, such as aged cheddar or gorgonzola, can complement the spicy and bitter notes of an Old Pal.


Cured meats balance perfectly with the herbal and spicy flavors of the cocktail. Think prosciutto, salami, or chorizo.

Spicy Appetizers

The Old Pal's bitterness contrasts well with spicy dishes like buffalo wings or jalapeño poppers.

Dark Chocolate

For something sweet, the bittersweet flavor of dark chocolate is a nice counterbalance to the bitterness of Campari in the drink.

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What you could change in Old Pal

  • Rye Whiskey - You can substitute the rye whiskey with bourbon for a sweeter taste.
  • Campari - If you find Campari too bitter, you can replace it with Aperol.
  • Dry Vermouth - If you don't have dry vermouth, you can use sweet vermouth, but this will make the cocktail sweeter.

Explore all drinks starting with O here

And of course - twists🍹

Mezcal Old Pal

Swap rye for mezcal to add a smoky note. Everything else stays the same. The cocktail will have a mysterious smoky layer, like a friend who just returned from a bonfire.

Aperol Old Pal

Use Aperol instead of Campari for a less bitter, subtly sweeter, and more approachable drink. It's the friendly neighbor version of the original.

Blanc Pal

Substitute dry vermouth with blanc vermouth. The cocktail becomes a little sweeter, a bit more floral, and even more sophisticated—think of it as the Old Pal who went on a European vacation.

In case you forgot basics how to make Old Pal

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Old Pal

What are other cocktails that Harry MacElhone has created?

Other known cocktails created by Harry MacElhone include the Boulevardier, White Lady, and Sidecar.

What is the alcohol content of rye whiskey?

The alcohol content of rye whiskey typically varies between 40% and 50%.

What is the best brand of rye whiskey to use for the Old Pal cocktail?

There are many great brands of rye whiskey, but a few favorites among mixologists include Bulleit, Rittenhouse, and Sazerac.

Are there any non-alcoholic substitutes for the alcohol in this cocktail?

Yes, you can use alcohol-free substitutes for rye whiskey, Campari, and Vermouth such as Seedlip, Lyre's Italian Orange, and Lyre's Aperitif Dry.

What type of orange is best for the twist garnish in this drink?

A variety of oranges can be used for the twist garnish, but many bartenders prefer to use Navel oranges for their thick skins and fragrant oils.

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