The Vieux Carre is a true classic in the cocktail world. It was reportedly developed at the legendary Carousel Bar in New Orleans sometime in the 1930s, on the heels of the drinks boomtime that helped define the “Roaring 20s.” It’s essentially a complex riff on a Manhattan with ingredients that speak to the vibrant, multi-cultural cocktail world of Prohibition-era New Orleans. The name, pronounced voh care-eh, means “old square” and refers to perhaps the most infamous drinking location on Earth, the French Quarter.
This is a bold cocktail with big flavors – two kinds of bitters, plus Cognac, and whiskey – so it’s meant to be slowly sipped. As such, some bartenders recommend constructing this one in a rocks glass, as you would an Old Fashioned, to avoid the slight dilution that comes with stirring over ice in a mixing glass first. I like my cocktails cold, however, and short of chilling all the ingredients along with the glass, I prefer to just kick up the amount of rye in this recipe to offset whatever water will eventually get in the drink from first stirring over ice. Speaking of which, apologies to all cocktail purists out there for the garbage ice in this photo. Sometimes, we have to make do with what we have…
1 oz. rye whiskey (preferably 100 proof or better)
.75 oz. Cognac
.75 oz. sweet vermouth
.5 oz. Benedictine liqueur
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir well. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a good cocktail cherry.