‘I say, Old Pal, how about a cocktail?’
‘Why certainly, but don’t Hogg the recipe book – pass it to Maureen so she can fix us a drink, quicksticks!’
Hello and welcome to the 1950s, when men chortled down the phone while secretaries made them such drinks as the Old Pal and workplaces, as a result, were almost enjoyable places. That’s the vibe I got when I tried the Old Pal, anyhow – with its rye whiskey kick and the bitter orange overtones of Campari, it seemed like the kind of old-school drink Don Draper would have for breakfast. Then again there are plenty of things Don Draper would have for breakfast, including his secretaries, so maybe that’s not the best way to judge a cocktail…
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Although I’m not a Campari fan I am determined to work out why other people are, and when I stumbled across this drink in a vintage cocktail book I thought it’d be worth a go. Containing rye whiskey, dry vermouth and Campari, the Old Pal is a perverted version of the Negroni, which contains gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. And that’s what it tastes like, too; like a watered-down version of a Negroni, even though you’d think the rye whiskey in the Old Pal would have a stronger flavour than the gin in a Negroni. It’s kind of boring, the sort of thing you drink just to get drunk. It’s the kind of drink that makes you realise why Negronis are still popular when Old Pals have fallen out of favour. It’s the kind of drink that could almost – almost – make me appreciate a Negroni, and that’s saying something.
‘I suppose it’s all about the delights of subtlety and nuance in a Negroni, as opposed to the straight-shooting ‘down the hatch, that’s the stuff’ of an Old Pal, Old Pal.’
‘Damn straight. Now let’s visit the Members Club and see if someone wants to taste your Old Pal, you don’t get much more subtle than that.’
Equal parts rye whiskey, dry vermouth and Campari. We used:
30ml Wild Turkey rye whiskey
30ml Noilly Prat
Stir all ingredients together in a mixing glass that’s half-full of ice. When it’s ice-cold (place the inside of your wrist on the outside of the glass to check, or just taste-test), strain into the old-fashioned glass and serve.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
How would I know, I got the secretary to make it.
This version appears in Cocktails and Mixed Drinks by Anthony Hogg (Optimum Books, 1981).