Today was my last day at work before heading to the States, so tonight I was definitely in the mood for a celebratory cocktail. Wanting to get myself in the mood for New Orleans next week I started out with a Sazerac, but as much as I love that drink I fancied something new to try out. After a bit of searching around I eventually settled on another New Orleans classic – the Vieux Carré.
The cocktail was invented at the Hotel Monteleone (where Tales of the Cocktail is held) in 1938 by the then-head bartender Walter Bergeron. It’s named after the French term for the French Quarter of New Orleans, le Vieux Carré, which literally means “old square”. A true New Orleans classic, it seemed like the perfect way to prepare for Tales of the Cocktail.
- ¾ shot / 22.5 ml / ¾ oz Cognac
- ¾ shot / 22.5 ml / ¾ oz rye whiskey
- ¾ shot / 22.5 ml / ¾ oz sweet vermouth
- ¼ shot / 7.5 ml / ¼ oz Bénédictine
- 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 dash Angostura Aromatic bitters
- Stir well with ice and strain in to an ice-filled old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon zest twist.
The Vieux Carré is a surprisingly sweet drink though by no means is it cloying, indeed it is a very balanced drink. Like in the Cognac/rye Sazerac the rye and Cognac here work beautifully together, with the vermouth taking the edge of the strong spirits and adding some interesting aromatics to the mix. Despite the small amount used the Bénédictine also brings plenty of flavour to the drink, and the overall taste is a wonderfully balanced mixture of aromatics and sweetness that deftly avoids becoming too heavy or overwhelming.
Given that it’s a drink made out of solely alcoholic ingredients the Vieux Carré is remarkably smooth and easy to drink. Highly recommended – I cannot wait to order myself one at the Carousel Bar of the Hotel Monteleone next week!
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