Named for the French Quarter in New Orleans—its moniker translates to “old square”—the Vieux Carré cocktail has sophisticated flavors and a long history. Stanley Clisby Arthur, author of the 1937 book Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’Em, credits the original Vieux Carré recipe to Walter Bergeron, head bartender at the Hotel Monteleone in the late 1930s. The drink remains a top-seller at the hotel’s Carousel Bar, a NOLA landmark that appears in works by Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, and others.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a literary legend to enjoy this spirit-forward sipper. The signature New Orleans cocktail recipe features rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, bitters, and Bénédictine, an herbal liqueur sweetened with a touch of honey. While Remy Martin 1738 is the traditional cognac to use, any VSOP aged at least four years will do.
Using two types of bitters might seem excessive, but they work in tandem to season the cocktail. Peychaud’s, the brand created in New Orleans in 1838 (and indispensable in a Sazerac cocktail), brings a touch of anise, while Caribbean-born Angostura bitters has spicy, bitter notes of gentian root, cinnamon, and cloves.
Serve your Vieux Carré over ice, in an old-fashioned or rocks glass, and garnish with a lemon peel.
Makes 1 cocktail
Combine 1 oz. rye whiskey, 1 oz. cognac, 1 oz. sweet vermouth, 1 tsp. Bénédictine, 2 dashes Angostura bitters, and 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass or rocks glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
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A very sophisticated beverage and a welcome change of pace if your a Manhattan devotee
Complex, refreshing, yum!
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