Vieux Carre Cocktail

By Robert Hess

It was Chuck Taggart over at gumbopages.com who first introduced me to this delicious drink. It was first created in 1938 by Walter Bergeron, the head bartender at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. This was before the installation of the "Carousel Lounge", and while this drink was long missing from their repertoire, it can once again be ordered, and enjoyed, in this famous French Quarter bar.

Recipe

Ingredients

3/4 oz brandy

3/4 oz rye whiskey

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

1/4 oz Benedictine

dash Peychaud's Bitters

dash Angostura Bitters

Instructions

Stir with ice.

Strain into an old fashioned glass.

Comments
Robert Hess 7 Jul 2008
6:46 am

Note: In the episode I say “...created at the Carousel Bar…” while I should have been more specific and said “...created at the Hotel Monteleone’s bar prior to the installation of the Carousel Bar…” :->

And yes, this is the same Hotel Monteleone where “Tales of the Cocktail” is being held this year. I recommend that any of you who are planning to be down there for this, plan to drop in at the Carousel bar and order a Vieux Carre as your first task once you get checked in!

-Robert

Kimberly Patton-Bragg 7 Jul 2008
7:08 am

The Carousel Bar is where I had my first Vieux Carre as well. I make them at home when I’m feeling a little lonely for New Orleans. I also have made them for some of my co-workers when they want a “classic” cocktail - and now they’re hooked too.
I was honored enough to have been chosen as an apprentice for Tales of the Cocktail. If you see an aproned redhead with tattoos - please say hello. I’m a great admirer of your show.

Blair Frodelius 7 Jul 2008
8:34 am

Robert,

I just made one of these for the first time last month.  I thought it was quite good.  All of the flavors balance each other and no one ingredient stands out.  Which is amazing, considering how many different herbal characteristics are in this drink!

That being said, I still prefer a Sazerac.  There’s something to be said for all of the work that goes into making a picture perfect Sazerac.

Cheers!

Blair

DJ HawaiianShirt 8 Jul 2008
8:09 am

Is there a suitable substitute for Peychaud’s bitters?

Robert Hess 8 Jul 2008
8:19 am

DJ,
If all you have available is Angostura bitters, then you “can” make this drink using just that… however the resultant drink will not taste quite the same. Peychaud’s adds a fairly different flavor character than Angostura does.

Having a selection of different cocktail bitters I think is important for anybody that really wants to have the full cocktail experience. At the bare minimum you should have Angostura, Peychaud, and at least one type of Orange Bitters.

If you can’t find anything besides Angostura in your area, then you might want to check out Kegworks.com. Their selection of bitters can be found here: http://www.kegworks.com/home.php?cat=936

-Robert

Blair Frodelius 8 Jul 2008
3:36 pm

Robert,

Speaking of bitters, do you have any idea why liquor stores generally do not carry them?  I’ve only encountered one store that had bitters (Fee’s).

Blair

Robert Hess 8 Jul 2008
6:01 pm

Blair,

To understand how the various liquor systems work in the various states (and counties) across the US would probably win somebody a nobel peace prize. :->

Here in Washington State, Liquor Stores can’t sell “grocery products”, and grocery stores can’t sell “spirits”... although both sell wines and champagne.

I can buy Peychaud bitters in the liquor store, but not the grocery store. I can buy Angostura bitters in the grocery store, but not the Liquor Stores. Although there is one “grocery store” here in Seattle that sells Peychauds…

-Robert

nj lady 9 Jul 2008
4:18 pm

I love the Vieux Carre!  I love the gumbopages!  Actually, I was inspired by Chuck’s entry about this on his beloved website.  I recently went to a highly touted steakhouse in a chi-chi suburb by where I live.  I wanted a Perfect Manhattan and, after ordering there and at many places where there was a dash of vermouth to a huge glob of whiskey, I went on a quest to find the perfect rye whiskey classic.  The Vieux Carre is the winner. 

I hope you thoroughly enjoy all the festivities in NOLA at the Tales’ celebration next week.

Phil Ballentine 4 Sep 2008
8:28 pm

Would this drink work with B&B instead of Benedictine?

Robert Hess 4 Sep 2008
9:25 pm

If all you have is B&B, then that “will” work for this drink, just not with the same results as full Benedictine would.

One of the measuring sticks I use for a bar, is too check to see if they have “just” B&B, or “just” Benedictine.

If they have Benedictine, then they can easily make a “B&B” (Benedictine and Brandy, in equal amounts) but they can also make any cocktail that calls for Benedictine. If they just have B&B, then they can make… well… B&B.

So to all you bars out there, either buth BOTH Benedictine and B&B (assuming you get a lot of requests for B&B), or if you only want to buy one of them, buy Benedictine. Please.

Here in Washington State, the liquor control board recently de-listed Benedictine, and so all you can buy is B&B. I’m still losing sleep over that one.

-Robert

MichaelO 4 Jan 2009
2:52 pm

After getting my shipment of Peychaud’s from Kegworks this is the first cocktial I tried my hand at.  Just a question though why is this served in an old-fashioned glass instead of a cocktail glass?

Robert Hess 4 Jan 2009
4:30 pm

Of all of the things to be “picky” about in regards to how to properly make a particular cocktail, I think glassware is the least of them. Unlike the share/stir rule-of-thumb, there isn’t any similar rule (that I am aware of) which dictates if a particular cocktail should be served up in a cocktail glass, or on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass.

In “Famous New Orleans Drinks and how to mix ‘em”, Stanley Clisby Arthur relates the recipe as being “built” in the glass, just like an Old Fashioned is, and so that’s how I do it as well.

But if you’d prefer to serve it in a cocktail glass, I’d gladly drink it and thank you for it! :->

-Robert

Bill 17 Apr 2010
1:52 pm

I’m slowly working my way through these cocktail recipes, Robert, as I slowly acquire the various spirits and liqueurs. Yesterday I found a good deal on a bottle of Benedictine, so I mixed one of these for myself (I’ve found a good method for searching out bargains on rare drinks, but if I reveal it I’ll be shooting myself in the foot).

What a subtle drink! More than with most drinks, I found it pleasurable to let it sit on my tongue for a moment before swallowing it, to really savor the different flavors in the mix. I’ll be sure to try another one tonight—that 1/8 ounce of Benedictine is pretty hard to measure, and I’m sure that the drink is sensitive to the proportions.

The sazerac is also a great drink, and I adore the food at the local Lousiana restaurant—I really must get down to New Orleans one of these days, to get it straight from the source!

Nick L. 4 Jan 2011
6:37 pm

An absolutely stunning cocktail, filled with fantastic flavors from quality ingredients.  It’s like an adventure in a glass.

Steven D. Lauria 27 Jan 2011
7:24 pm

Hi Robert,

Would Hennessy or the fruitier Courvoisier work here?

By the way, I used to teach for awhile next door to another teacher whose name was Robert Hess in the Los Angeles school disrict.  Are you the same Robert Hess?

Robert Hess 28 Jan 2011
5:22 am

Steven,
Absolutely. The cognac I am using here is Chalfonte, which is a lower priced cognac. I’m always on the lookout for brands which are both good enough to make a fine cocktail, but also won’t break the bank. Chalfonte just barely makes the grade, and in fact I am moving away from it these days and usually using Courvoisier VS instead.

And no, I’m not the same Robert Hess you knew in LA. I’ve lived in WA all my life.

-Robert

Ben Alpers 22 Feb 2011
5:46 pm

I love the Vieux Carre (and first discovered it thanks to this video).  Lately I’ve also been enjoying Brian Miller’s variation on it, the Carre Reprise, which has an ounce each of the cognac, rye, and sweet vermouth, and half an ounce of St. Germain along with both Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters. This ends up being a slightly lighter tasting drink somehow. (h/t to Jamie Boudreau’s St Germain cocktail website, btw)

Chris Milligan 6 Apr 2011
8:53 am

is walter related to vic in any way?

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