VIEUX CARRÉ: From New Orleans with Love

by artfuldiner on February 18, 2023

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Recipe

Vieux Carre - Bartender Walter BergeronThe Vieux Carré is a legendary cocktail that most people have either never heard of… or mispronounce (It is pronounced in the Cajun & Creole style “vyur kaa ray”). But that hardly matters. What does matter is that this is a libation you may definitely wish to add to your cocktail resumé. The Vieux Carré was created in the 1930s by head bartender Walter Bergeron (pictured) at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, who was seeking an alternative to the trademarked Sazerac. Bergeron named it after the French phrase meaning “old square,” which referred to the French Quarter.

 Vieux Carre - CocktailIt’s a short, slow sipper that begins with equal parts of rye whiskey, Cognac, and sweet vermouth. Not one, but two bitters are added; plus, a splash of a classic herbal liqueur to give it even more dimension. It’s a slightly sweet, slightly spicy, warming concoction with subtle herbal, citrus, and smoky nuances. It’s similar to a Manhattan but more complex thanks to the Cognac, Bénédictine, and two kinds of bitters. It is truly a classic cocktail and one of the signature drinks of New Orleans.

Famous New Orleans DrinksThe recipe for Vieux Carré was first printed in the 1937 edition of Famous New Orleans Drinks and how to Mix ‘Em” and was initially exceedingly popular. But, as time when on, the cocktail did fall out of favor for a number of decades and slip into relative obscurity. All that changed, however, with the recent resurgence of interest in classic cocktails and rye whiskey. Thanks to skillful bartenders and the availability of fine ingredients, Vieux Carré is once again on every cocktail enthusiast’s list of truly great libations.

Vieux Carre - Cocktail 2As cocktail guru Tom Macy once remarked, “If you love a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, the Vieux Carré is the next drink to add to your rotation. Essentially a Manhattan with a few additions that make it something entirely its own. There are several ingredients to collect, which make this a tougher drink to execute, but the effort is well worth it.”

The ingredients and directions are noted below…


1ounce Rye Whiskey

1ounce Cognac

1ounce Sweet Vermouth

1-2 dashes Angostura Bitters

1-2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

½ ounce Bénédictine

Lemon Twist or Cherry Garnish


1, Add the Rye Whiskey, Cognac, Sweet Vermouth, Bénédictine, and Bitters into a mixing glass with ice & stir until well-chilled.

  1. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice or a cocktail glass.
  2. Garnish with a cherry or lemon twist, or both.

This is the original recipe. However, if you would prefer your Vieux Carré on the drier side, amp up just a bit on the rye whiskey and cut back on the sweet vermouth.


Be Safe & Stay Well


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