Chances are, be it the Jazz Festival, Mardi Gras, Tales of the Cocktail, or a stopover on a cruise, you’ve explored the streets of Vieux Carré. But have you ever sampled the liquid version?
Vieux Carré—which means “old square” in French, also known as the French Quarter in New Orleans—is one of America’s most visited neighborhoods, the title of a Tennessee Williams play, and last but not least, a delicious classic cocktail.
The Vieux Carré (pronounced View Car ray) originally made its print debut in the 1937 cocktail book Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em by Stanley Clisby Arthur. Here, the author credits the creation to Walter Bergeron—head bartender at Hotel Monteleone—home to Carousel, the rotating bar. The drink is still as popular today as it was when Carousel opened in 1949.
And if anything sums up New Orleans in a glass, it’s this cocktail. The potent recipe calls for rye, sweet vermouth, and plenty of French spirits. The French component is a nod to the country’s influence in the city. It’s exemplified in the drink’s call for Bénédictine—an herbal liqueur invented by an Italian monk living in France—Cognac, a French brandy, and a splash of Peychaud’s bitters for local color. Fun fact: Peychaud’s was a creation of Antoine Amédée Peychaud, a Creole apothecary from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), who settled in New Orleans in the late 1700s. It wasn’t until roughly 1830 when Peychaud actually invented the bitters as a health tonic.
And though you’ve probably heard of the Sazerac (rye, Cognac, Absinthe, Peychaud’s, and a sugar cube), its kissing cousin cocktail, the VC (as fans like to call it) had fallen out of fashion for decades—even at its birthplace— when imbibers swapped out their whiskey for vodka. Thanks to the craft cocktail movement and those curious bartenders dusting off vintage cocktail books, the Vieux Carré has made a comeback.
Whether it’s your first time trying the New Orleans meets-France drink or your hundredth time, the Vieux Carré always delivers an exquisite array of flavors that leads to a night of pontificating and profundity. Although it has more ingredients than most three-or four-part classic cocktails, it’s worth the extra jiggering.
- 3/4 oz. Rye Whiskey
- 3/4 oz. Cognac
- 3/4 oz. Sweet Vrmouth
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
- 1 bar spoon Benedictine Liqueur
- Cherry (for garnish)
Preparation: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir well. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry.