Old Pal – Classic Recipe & History

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Old Pal

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Course: DrinksCuisine: British




Total time



How to make an Old Pal


  • 1 oz 30 ml Dry Vermouth

  • 1 oz 30 ml Campari

  • 1 oz 30 ml Scotch


  • Technique: Simple Stir
  • Combine all ingredients in the mixing glass.
  • Add ice to the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 10 – 15 seconds. Try to avoid over-diluting the drink
  • Strain into a glass with ice.

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History Of The Old Pal Cocktail

The oldest reference to the Old Pal I can find is on page 82 of the 1927 book “Barflies and Cocktails” by Harry McElhone. The recipe (Along with the oldest reference to the Boulevardier) comes from the contribution section of the book by Author Moss, who writes about some of his favorite cocktails around London and their origins told by the bartenders who make them. Author Moss writes:

“I remember way back in 1878, on the 30th of February to be exact, when the writer was discussing the 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 the cocktail to me and call it, My Old Pal.”

This is satirically written as there is no 30th of February, and Eyetalian is phonetically written to imitate someone with a heavy accent saying Italian. Italian Vermouth is also different from the typical vermouth used. Dry Vermouth is. McElhone seems to correct this when he adds the Old Pal as a recipe in his 1930 book “ABCs of Mixing Cocktails.” Recipe 208 on page 65 for the Old Pal is 1/3 Canadian Club Whisky, 1/3 French Vermouth, and 1/3 Campari. And states the recipe is by “Sparrow” Robertson, the sporting editor of the New York Herald in Paris.

The Old Pal is a fantastic cocktail and my preferred version of Campari with vermouth and spirit. If you like Boulevardiers or Negronis, then this is a must-try.

Variations Of This Cocktail.

Popular variations of this kind of cocktail are:

Recipe Resources

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