New Orleans has been the birthplace of many classic cocktails over the years, including (but not limited to) the Sazerac and the legendary Gin Fizz. Cocktails from New Orleans are often wonderfully multifaceted reflections of the city’s cultural diversity. The Vieux Carre is a perfect example of this.
This cocktail balances an impressive number of competing influences and flavors beautifully, meaning that there is something here for everyone. Read on to learn the ingredients and steps you’ll need to make one for yourself.
Brief History of the Vieux Carre
The cocktail was first mixed by Walter Bergeron, a bartender and mixologist at the French Quarter’s now-famous Carousel Bar sometime in the early 1930s. It would have been enjoyed by locals and esteemed Carousel patrons like Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote long before it captured the heart of the American public with its inclusion in Famous New Orleans Cocktails and How to Mix ‘Em by Stanley Clisby Arthur.
The cocktail’s name translates into English as ‘Old Neighborhood’, an homage to the French Quarter neighborhood where it was born. The name is apt. In the cocktail’s ingredients, you will find strong French, Italian, Caribbean, and American influences. Just as in the French Quarter itself, these influences are distinct enough to notice yet ultimately combined in a way that creates something greater than the sum of its parts.
A Note on Ingredients
Before attempting this cocktail you’ll likely need to source some of the ingredients. Depending on your level of experience with mixing cocktails, things like Peychaud’s Bitters might be foreign to you. That’s completely fine. Most of the required ingredients can be sourced from your local liquor store and those that can’t be will be available for purchase online.
Think of this as an excuse to expand your liquor and bitter collection and with it, your cocktail mixing horizons. The drink is relatively easy to make once the ingredients are assembled and, because of this, it is a great introduction to mixing drinks with more complex flavor profiles.
Vieux Carre Cocktail
- 3/4 Oz Rye whiskey
- 3/4 Oz cognac
- 3/4 Oz sweet vermouth
- 1/2 Oz Bénédictine
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
- 1 maraschino cherry or lemon wedge (optional)
- Fill a mixing glass halfway with ice
- Add liquid ingredients, stir until chilled
- Strain into an Old-Fashioned glass filled halfway with ice
- Add any garnishes
In the years since it was first mixed, this New Orleans specialty has become popular around the world. Yet with each sip, you can almost imagine yourself being transported back to the Carousel Bar in the 1930s, looking across the smokey room at Ernest Hemmingway. Its sense of history is captivating, but more importantly than that, it tastes delicious. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!