One of my favorite New Orleans cocktails, after the Sazerac, is the Vieux Carré Cocktail.
According to Stanley Clisby Arthur in his book, “Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em,” the cocktail was invented by, “Walter Bergeron, head bartender of the Hotel Monteleone cocktail lounge,” and especially to honor the Vieux Carré, or old square, section of the city of New Orleans.
Clisby Arthur gives the recipe as follows:
1/2 teaspoon Benedictine
1 dash Peychaud bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/3 jigger Rye whiskey
1/3 jigger Cognac Brandy
1/3 jigger Italian Vermouth
The Benedictine is used as a base and also for sweetening the cocktail. Dash on the bitters, then add the rye, brandy, and vermouth. Put several lumps of ice in the barglass. Stir. Twist a slice of lemon peel over the mixture. Drop in a slice of pineapple and a cherry if you wish and serve in mixing glass.
Personally, I tend to like the cocktail “up” instead of over ice, but follow his instructions as closely or as loosely as you prefer.
Now the fun thing about this cocktail is it is an example where two spirits work together beautifully.
It can be fun to experiment with your own variations, the only real rules being to include benedictine, bitters, and equal parts of two spirits and vermouth.
Here are a couple I’ve been pleased with:
Vieux Carré Variation 1
1 oz St. James Ambre Martinique Rhum
1 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1 oz Punt e Mes
Stir, Strain into cocktail glass.
The scent of the apple brandy and earthiness of the rhum agricole are quite interesting. Very complex libation. I’m omitting the Angostura, as I’m using the more bitter Punt e Mes vermouth.
Vieux Carré Variation 2
1 oz Highland Park 12 Single Malt Scotch Whisky
1 oz Calvados Roger Groult, Réserve 3 years old
1 oz M&R Bianco Vermouth
Stir, strain, grapefruit peel twist.
And here’s a double taboo for you. Not only does this cocktail contain two spirits, one of them is a Single Malt Scotch Whisky! Horrors!
Vieux Carré Variation 3 was something of a disaster. Gin and Wheat Whiskey. I still swear it is salvageable, maybe with Oude Genever. One of these days I’ll get back to it.
Vieux Carré Variation 4, I present for your amusement.
1 tsp Benedictine
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
3/4 oz Batavia Arrack von Osten
3/4 oz Tequila Corralejo Reposado
3/4 oz Cocchi Aperitivo Americano
Stir, strain, dust with freshly grated nutmeg.
I’ve been thinking about some way to combine Tequila and Batavia Arrack for a while now without much success. This cocktail is the closest I’ve come to a success so far. Maybe a bit single noted. Definitely a work in progress, but I find the interaction between the spice, tequila, and arrack promising.