Vieux Carré

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Cocktail History

The Vieux Carré, literally translated to “old square,” is one of the three famous Louisiana-inspired cocktail recipes. It was named for the French Quarter of New Orleans in which it was created, where the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone is still located to this day. Similar to the Sazerac and De La Louisiane, it has a great deal of spicy creole flavors that pair well with the local cuisine.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Rye: This is one of the base spirits. We used Heaven Hill Distillery’s Rittenhouse Rye because it has a rich and clean taste with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa, and citrus.

Cognac: This is the other base spirit. We used Courvoisier VSOP Cognac because it has a rich mouthfeel, adds notes of peach, almond, and cinnamon, and brings a delightful brandy spice at the end.

Sweet Vermouth: This is a fortified wine that adds sweetness. We used Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth because it’s Alex’s favorite sweet vermouth, with dark notes of herbs, figs, licorice, cinnamon, and cocoa.

Bénédictine: This is a spiced, floral liqueur. It’s made from twenty-seven different spices and herbs that gives adds the liqueurs unique taste that really can’t be replicated by using substitutes.

Peychaud’s Creole Bitters: These add Peychaud’s unique Creole flavors, including licorice, saffron, citrus peel, vanilla, nuts, anise, cherry, nutmeg, clove, and caramel.

Angostura Aromatic Bitters: This is a type of spirit infused with botanicals. They add more spice and complexity to the drink and tie the other flavors together.

Orange Peel: This is the garnish. It adds fresh orange aroma and flavor.

Tasting Notes

The Vieux Carré has strong aromas of sweet orange zest, then begins with the spicy taste of rye followed by the vermouths muted sweetness, and is lead out by a pleasant herbal finish that tingles in the throat.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: Thanks to its bitter, spicy, and boozy profile, this cocktail’s not fit for every palate (like Kendall’s). Alex though loved every spicy second of it, despite usually being lukewarm on sweet vermouth.

Alex’s Take: “I’ve had the Vieux Carré a few times before and always enjoyed it, much more than the classic Manhattan that it’s based on. It combines a few of the great tastes of Louisiana, and it has a definite lingering herbal spice as well as Bénédictine, both of which I love. Admittedly, I would take the Sazerac over this or the De La Louisiane over both, but this is a great pick if you’re feeling a little Americana and want some seriously bold flavors and booziness.”

Kendall’s Take: “I could tell from the first whiff that I wouldn’t care for this drink, and judging from the way I visibly winced while tasting it, I was right. Although I’ve appreciated the chance to taste the three most famous New Orleans-inspired cocktail recipes (the Sazerac, De La Louisiane, and now the Vieux Carré), all three are just too bitter for my palate. I almost always choose gin or vodka drinks over a whiskey base, but if I were going to drink whiskey, I much prefer bourbon recipes—more specifically ones that balance bourbon’s spiciness and burn with tangy citrus juice or a sweeter liqueur.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from The Essential Cocktail Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks by the editors of PUNCH and Megan Krigbaum.

AuthorThe Essential Cocktail BookPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 2 oz Rye
 1 oz Cognac
 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
 ¼ oz Bénédictine
 2 dashes Peychaud's Creole Bitters
 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 1 Orange Peel

Method
1

Add rye, brandy, Bénédictine, sweet vermouth, bitters, and ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass.

4

Garnish with orange peel.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 2 oz Rye
 1 oz Cognac
 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
 ¼ oz Bénédictine
 2 dashes Peychaud's Creole Bitters
 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 1 Orange Peel

Directions

Method
1

Add rye, brandy, Bénédictine, sweet vermouth, bitters, and ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a lowball glass.

4

Garnish with orange peel.

Vieux Carré

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More Rye Cocktails

If you like this rye whiskey cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

De La Louisiane: A rye cocktail made with Bénédictine, sweet vermouth, absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters, and a cherry

Falling Leaves: A rye cocktail made with Amaro Montenegro, toasted fig syrup, chocolate bitters, and an orange slice

Brooklyn: A rye cocktail made with dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and Amer Picon

Mott & Mulberry: A rye cocktail made with Luxardo Amaro Abano, apple cider, lemon juice, Demerara syrup, and apple slices

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