If you were to draw a Venn diagram of New Orleans, history and cocktails the Vieux Carre would be in the center. Combine the strength of rye whiskey, the nuttiness of Cognac, sweetness of Vermouth and the subtlety of Benedictine to unlock the beauty behind this classic cocktail. For anyone working behind the bar in an establishment that claims to serve classic cocktails this should be in the top 3 of whiskey drinks to memorize. Not only is it important to know but the recipe is quite fun to make (if you have the time!)
In a mixing glass add equal portions Rye, Cognac and Sweet Vermouth then 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and Peychauds bitters. Stir with ice. Pour over fresh ice then add 2 barspoons of Benedictine and stir CLOCKWISE 4 times slowly. Garnish with orange twist.
The last part of the recipe is key because the Benedictine is very strong in flavor and sweetness. By only stirring it 4 times the Benedictine does not completely dissolve into the other flavors but if you look closely, the pre-stirred spirits and Benedictine are separate. This makes the cocktail taste slightly different every sip, some sips sweeter and some more bitter as you imbibe.
To better understand the history of the Vieux Carre (pronounced voo car-ray) go back to the 1930s and take a stroll down French Quarter of New Orleans where the cocktail gets its namesake. Walter Bergeron who was the head bar tender and the famed Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone is widely credited as the man behind this classic. A bar is often famous for the bar flies that inhabit it, here you would find Truman Capote and everyone's favorite alcoholic author Ernest Hemingway. The first time this recipe appears in print and publication is for Stanley Clisby Arthurs 1937 book New Olreans' Drinks and how to mix 'em. At that time New Orleans was a melting pot of French, Carribeans, Italians and of course Americans. Cognac from the French, Vermouth from the Italians, Bitters from the Carribeans and Rye Whiskey as its base.
The Vieux Carre is a great before dinner drink to open the palate and get a quick buzz before dinner and then can also be enjoyed after a meal because of the inherent sweetness. A truly beautiful drink that combines the story of history through its spirits and the test of time because of its brilliance.
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Maggie Kimberl is one of the most respected and prolific writers in American whiskey, and her journey into the bourbon industry is one-of-a-kind.
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