Negroni Nirvana – An Old Pal

by KeithP on April 21, 2012

This is our 10th day of Negroni Nirvana and after the previous nine days of fun, we are heading for a few days of post writing R&R.  So far we’ve seen this classic drink done in a traditional and then altered formulation; swizzled; stirred with rum, rhum, bourbon, mezcal, Islay whisky and even aged to perfection.  In anticipation of what lies ahead, slowly expanding the Negroni recipe or concept even further, today we provide a little thought experiment through the Old Pal.

Is there really such a difference between sweet and dry … at least in terms of ingredients and their effect on a drink recipe?  We think so and the Old Pal provides a way for us to test this out.  Essentially a mirror image of the previously offered Left Hand Cocktail (save the use of mole bitters in the leftie) the key difference is the use of dry vermouth (Old Pal) versus sweet vermouth (Left Hand) and what a huge difference it is.  In much the same way that I shy away from Perfect Manhattan’s I too shy away from the Old Pal in favor of the sweet vermouth-based drink.  The Old Pal tastes less cohesive to me, a disparate set of flavors from bitter, to botantical to heavily bitter whereas the Left Hand is a balanced expression of a drink.

“Dry” just doesn’t do it for me here, in this case.

Any thoughts on the “dry” versus “sweet” debate?

*Writers Note:  In today’s offering we have used bourbon largely for comparison purposes as noted above.  We recognize that our research has yielded more versions of this recipe profiling rye than bourbon but by our taste we noticed little to add in the “dry” versus “sweet” battle sought herein so we stuck with the bourbon.  We note that in the recipe link above Paul’s version calls for either bourbon or rye and a recent trip to Weather Up (Tribeca) yielded a bartender’s selection Old Pal made with our very same Elijah Craig 12 year — so we feel a little vindicated.

Old Pal
Recipe adapted by theSpeakista  

•    1 1/2 oz bourbon or rye (Elijah Craig 12 year)
•    3/4 oz dry vermouth (Dolin Dry was used)
•    3/4 oz Campari
Garnish: lemon or orange twist
Glass: chilled coupe or other cocktail glass
Tools: mixing glass, bar-spoon and julep strainer

Assembly: Add all of the ingredients to the mixing glass and stir for several minutes with plenty of cracked and non-cracked ice until well chilled (adding in additional ice as needed along the way) and strain into the serving glass. Garnish and serve.

So far so good … 10 days of “Negroni’s” and we are substantially more bitter (in a good way of course) than when we started.  We are starting to write-up the next group of 10 posts and will be back shortly.  Stay tuned for something a tad “unusual” is up next.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex April 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

What a problem with dry vermouth? Old Pal is definitely drier than dry Boulevardier, and that’s good. Made with rye whiskey (or Canadian as Craddock suggested), Old Pal is a well-balanced dry cocktail, one in a great number of dry aperitifs.
My Old Pal was with Rittenhaus Rye (Canadian Club 12yo), Campari, Noilly Pratt Original Dry.

Kostas April 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Sub bourbon for barrel aged bols and a dash of angostura orange bitters or go for a more “mellow-in-cocktail-bourbon” like maker’s or bulleit (at lest more mellow for my taste!)
But still I think boulevardier, or left hand is more balanced than old pal.
Still a good dry drink.
Cheers from Greece!

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