I'm just going to go ahead and assume that whatever little fantasy you entertained about going booze-free for the month of January went out the window the moment you set foot back in your lab/office and came to grips with the mountain of work awaiting you, am I right? It's OK! You're amongst friends. And speaking of friends, tonight we're making an Old Pal--winter's Negroni, you might say.
I may have my gripes about NJC, but I will admit that they have one or two cocktail dens whose bartenders are up to snuff. Naturally, my favorite is exceedingly popular, and you can only get in without a wait if you go at, say, 5pm on a Sunday. But it was on just such a Sunday afternoon that I was introduced to the Old Pal, and my life has never been the same since.
Look, we all love a nice Manhattan, but sometimes they're just too sweet for me, even with rye instead of bourbon. The Old Pal takes rye, dry vermouth, and Campari and makes this perfectly non-sweet, fairly bitter aperitif that warms you up without giving you cavities. If you'd like it a little sweeter, you can swap out bourbon for rye and sweet vermouth for dry*, and then it's called a Boulevardier. Also lovely.
Let's make one!
2 oz rye whiskey (Rittenhouse or Old Overholt are solid affordable options)
3/4 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz Campari
dash orange bitters
Thoroughly stir all ingredients with ice in a shaker, and then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a nice big orange peel (they're in season!).
* a word about vermouth. I just want to make sure you all understand that it's fortified wine, right? Which means that you can't just keep a half-used bottle on the shelf with the rest of your booze for a year or whatever and then decide one day to make a Manhattan--it's gone bad at that point, and your Manhattan will taste like poop. I recommend buying it in small bottles, and keeping opened ones in the fridge. Chilled, an opened bottle will be good for maybe a month. After that, toss it and get a new one, it's like $5.