top of page
Post: Blog2 Post

The Vieux Carre - Is This the Best New Orleans Cocktail?!


Three classic cocktials lay side by side. In order from left to right the Vieux Carre, the Près du Quai and A la Louisiane

Hi, Friends of Cocktails! Today I'll show you a modern version of the Vieux Carre, one of my favorite cocktails, together with 2 similar cocktails from New Orleans, one with rum, the other with absinthe. So let’s start from the beginning, what’s the origin of this cocktails? The Viuex Carre, French for “Old Square” is a cocktail named after the famous French quarter in New Orleans, one of America’s most visited neighborhoods. 


It was created in 1938 by Walter Bergeron, the head bartender at what is now the Carousel bar, a slowly rotating bar at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans. He created an elevated version of a Manhattan, in his words, to honor the part of New Orleans where the antique shops and the iron lace balconies give sightseers a glimpse into the romance of another day. He used a split base of rye and cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and bitters - Angostura and Peychaud’s, another New Orleans staple. 


The recipe first appeared in print in the 1938 “Famous New Orleans Drinks and how to mix 'em” by Stanley Clisby Arthur on page fifty-three. The original recipe calls for the drink to be made and served in a small mixing glass, so I’ll make this straight in the glass as well. It’s a version based on Gary Regan’s recipe from his “The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft”... but of course I’ll add saline solution, because… it makes cocktails taste better.


A La Louisiane cocktail, served with a cocktail cherry in a pick

Vieux Carre (1938)

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Rye Whiskey

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Cognac

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Sweet Vermouth

● 7.5mL · 0.25oz Benedictine

● 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

● 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution


Start with a tempered ice cube, before we add the ingredients. Afterwards +give it a good stir, to chill and properly dilute the cocktail. The original recipe calls for a twist of lemon peel and an optional slice of pineapple and a cherry, but I think a simple candied cherry will tie it nicely to its Manhattan origins. I’ll give this a try, before I try a version with rum next, cheers!


The Vieux Carre has a herbal and strong aroma, similar to the Manhattan, but you quickly notice deeper herbal flavors and a subtle honey note. It's a balanced and easy-to-drink spirit-forward cocktail. As mentioned, of my favorites in this category, but can we make it better? One thing I love about being an online creator is the huge community that forms around a shared passion - Friends of Cocktails, if you will.

 

Difford’s Guide, rightfully named the home of discerning drinkers, is a great example of how a community can help each other grow, and that’s how this next cocktail came to be. Two discerning drinkers commented on the Vieux Carre recipe, saying that it gets even better with aged rum. One of them named it ‘Près du Quai', because to get the rum you have to move from the Old Square to the docks. So aged rum replaces cognac, and instead of rye we’re using bourbon, to pair it better with rum. 


Près du Quai

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Appleton Estate 12

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Sweet Vermouth

● 7.5mL · 0.25oz Benedictine

● 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

● 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution


This time we’re starting with a chilled mixing glass instead, adding our ingredients in, adding plenty of ice and stirring to chill and dilute. I’ll serve this one in a small, chilled martini glass. Next for garnish I’m adding a lemon peel, after expressing the essential oils over the cocktail. Before we make the last cocktail of the day, let’s try the Près du Quai. Santé!


The aroma is a bit more citrusy than herbal with this one. Then we get the slightly funky twist, with the sweet, molases notes being the main supporting player to the whiskey. A fun play on the original, but I’d say cognac and rye is still the winning combo. Lastly, we have a cocktail that leaves out cognac and brings in a familiar ingredient from the Sazerac: absinthe. 


A La Louisiane, or sometimes De La Louisiane, is the former house drink of historic New Orleans’ restaurant La Louisiane, built in 1881. The recipe was printed alongside Sazerac and Vieux Carre in the Famous New Orleans Drinks, but mainly disappeared through the decades. Jim Meehan brought it back in “The PDT Cocktail Book” printed in 2011, but also made it more balanced.


Originally, this cocktail it had equal parts of rye, sweet vermouth and Benedictine, but we’ll make it a modern A La Louisiane. 


A La Louisiane

● 45mL · 1.5oz Rye Whiskey

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Sweet Vermouth

● 7.5mL · 0.25oz Benedictine

● 3 dashes Absinthe

● 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution


So in the same way as our previous cocktail, add the ingredients into a chilled mixing glass, while a clear ice sphere tempers in a tumbler glass. Now add ice to your mixing glass, stir to chill and dilute, then serve into your glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and that’s A La Louisiane. 


It has hints of herbs and sweetness on the aroma, with a blend of the whiskey's warmth, the vermouth's richness, and the herbal notes from the Benedictine, with plenty of absinthe. I’d say this is closer to a sweeter Sazerac, than it is to the Vieux Carre, but with that we’ve made it to the Bottom of The Glass of this New Orleans-themed episode. So which one is my favorite New Orleans cocktail?


Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz are probably better known, but I think Viuex Carre might just take the crown as the best cocktail from New Orleans. Let me know if you agree by leaving a comment on the full episode on YouTube, and for more classic cocktails, check out this playlist with more Old vs New episodes. Cheers, Friends of Cocktails!



Comentários


bottom of page