I just realized that it’s been exactly six months since my last post. Wow. I knew I had been putting this off a bit, but this is even more serious procrastination that I’m normally capable of. I definitely planned on doing this one for Fat Tuesday, but as you can see that plan didn’t work out.
Enough excuses. I first ran across the Vieux Carré in a tweet from Imbibe Magazine, which said that it was a 1930’s New Orleans recipe named after the French Quarter (literally, I think, Old Square). A little more research in the form of a Google search, and I ran across Chuck Taggart’s GumboPages blog, which ascribes the invention of the drink in 1938 to Walter Bergeron, the head bartender at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans. All facts that, with the exception of the exact date of 1938, the hotel’s blog confirms (I’ll trust him on that detail). There are a lot of recipes around for this drink, all of which are built on the basic formula of equal parts rye, congnac and sweet vermouth and a little bit of Benedictine plus both Peychaud’s & Angostura bitters. I actually went with the one from Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan’s In the Land of Cocktails book (they credit Stanley Clisby Arthur’s book Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em), though with the Hotel Monteleone’s serving suggestion:
Vieux Carré Cocktail
- 1 oz. Rye whiskey
- 1 oz. Cognac
- 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
- 1/2 tsp. Benedictine
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into an old-fashioned glass half-full of ice. Garnish with a twist of lemon. Notice that it’s only 1/2 teaspoon (not ounce) of benedictine.
The Hotel Monteleone’s recipe calls for 1/2 oz of Benedictine and 3/4 oz of everything else, which I think leaves it just a bit sweet. Upping the Benedictine to a full teaspoon, though, is certainly a fine idea (and what Chuck Taggart recommends). Both B & I really liked this classic cocktail. I think it could wind up on our list of favorites.
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