Pity, if you will, the poor Vieux Carré. Not that the cocktail is poor, of course. Au contraire, it’s rich in all the ways that matter. Had it been born anywhere else it would surely, by popular acclamation, be declared the official cocktail of that metropole and receive all the deference due.
Instead it’s the hard luck drink of New Orleans. No matter that it was birthed in the Big Easy and christened after the French Quarter – the name means “old square” – it will never be the Crescent City’s signature libation. Not when the Sazerac got there first.
With its subtle interplay of flavors including a hint of decadence, the Vieux Carré has long been a go-to request of mine in craft cocktail bars. Now that I’ve finally ponied up for a bottle of Bénédictine, I can make them myself. Before preparing my maiden effort, though, I had to decide how I wanted to serve it. The first few times I ordered the drink it was presented up in a cocktail glass. The standard, though, is in a tumbler over ice, and that’s what I opted for here. In either case, don’t be stingy with the lemon peel. That final burst of citrus is the coup de grâce.
The Vieux Carré
1 oz. rye
1 oz. Cognac
1 oz. sweet vermouth
¼ oz. Bénédictine
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Stir. Strain. Garnish with a lemon peel.
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