Those who know drinks and cocktails will know that Vieux Carré is undoubtedly a classic New Orleans cocktail. It may resemble the Manhattan, but it has a bit more bitterness and a lot more spice!
The Vieux Carré is the French term meaning “Old Square.” This Old Square it’s referring to is the famed French Quarter of the Big Easy, which is located on the Mississippi River bank. The Vieux Carré cocktail is actually an adaptation of a late 1930s recipe created by head bartender Walter Bergeron at the famous Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone, a favorite of William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty and Ernest Hemingway! If you are in New Orleans, make sure you check out the city’s French Quarter and make sure you head to this bar – true to its name is is a spinning bar!
This New Orleans classic made it into Famous Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em by Stanley Clisby Arthur published in 1938!
Today Vieux Carré has become one of the famous New Orleans drinks like a Ramos Gin Fizz, Hurricane or Sazerac. The original recipe for the Vieux Carre cocktail is made with a lot of ingredients making it one of the strongest cocktails, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a great whiskey cocktail and not just for Mardi Gras.
What goes into a Vieux Carré
Made with spicy rye whiskey, French brandy, sweet vermouth, bitters and herbal liqueur, plus two types of bitters, its mix of herbal complexity, creole bitters and high alcohol content make it a slow sipper!
- Rye whiskey: Rye whiskey has a peppery and grassy flavor that adds so much spice and such a great aroma. Don’t be afraid to use a 100-proof rye whiskey!
- Cognac: Of course, you can use any brand of cognac. It adds a citrusy and fruity aroma!
- Benedictine: This French herbal liqueur is a must to give it
- Sweet vermouth: Any brand of sweet vermouth works well!
- Peychaud’s bitters: These bitters have a sweeter flavor with a hint of mint and star anise. You can hear all about them in my Lush Life episode with Rhiannon Enlil of the Sazerac House!
- Angostura bitters: Most of the great classic cocktails use these aromatic bitters for a reason!
- Garnish: It’s traditional garnish is a lemon peel or lemon twist!
What tools you need to make Vieux Carré
You can make this Vieux Carre cocktail in just three simple steps. Add the rye whisky, cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine liqueur, and bitters to a mixing glass. Add ice cubes to the glass and stir a few times. Now strain the cocktail into an ice-filled rock glass and garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy!
Where to find more stirred cocktail recipes
Here are a few of my favorites:
- How to Make a Great Negroni
- How to Make a Classic Gin Martini
- How to Make the Old Fashioned
- How to Make the Boulevardier
Plus more New Orleans recipes here
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Where to find ingredients for Vieux Carré cocktails
Here is the recipe!
- 3/4 oz rye whiskey
- 3/4 oz cognac
- 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
- 1/2 oz Bénédictine Liqueur
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 dash aromatic bitters
- Garnish: lemon twist
- Add all of the ingredients to a mixing glass
- Add ice and then stir
- Strain into a rock glass over ice.
- Garnish with a lemon twist
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