Vieux Carre

The Vieux Carre cocktail is a 1930’s classic from New Orleans! It’s strong and sippable, featuring rye whiskey, Cognac and vermouth.

Vieux Carre

If you love a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, it’s safe to say you’ll love this drink too: the Vieux Carre! This unique classic cocktail comes from New Orleans: the name means “French Quarter” in French. It’s strong and alcohol forward, made with not one but two types of bitters. The complex flavor is ideal for whiskey lovers who love to relax with a slow sipper in hand. Here’s how to make it!

What’s a Vieux Carre?

The Vieux Carré cocktail comes from the 1930’s: it was created in the New Orleans’ Hotel Monteleone by a bartender named Walter Bergeron. He named it after the French Quarter, called Vieux Carre. The drink was first printed in a cocktail book in 1937. It’s essentially a fancy Manhattan: starring rye whiskey and vermouth like the standard drink, but adding quite a bit of extras.

How to pronounce Vieux Carre? VOO care-A. This drink is actually a classic cocktail on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, meaning there’s an “official” definition. The ingredients in a Vieux Carre are:

  • Rye whiskey
  • Cognac
  • Sweet red vermouth
  • Benedictine
  • Peychaud bitters
  • Angostura bitters

Another classic New Orleans cocktail? Try Milk Punch.

Vieux carre

More about vermouth

Vermouth is a fortified wine: a wine with liquor added to stabilize it. There are two main types of vermouth: sweet (usually red) and dry (usually white). Sweet vermouth is subtly sweet and spicy, with a hit of bitter on the back end.

You can drink sweet vermouth in cocktails, or even on the rocks as an aperitif. Store vermouth in the refrigerator, where it will stay good for up to 3 months. Here are all our favorite Vermouth Cocktails to use up a bottle!

All about Cognac

Cognac is a type of French brandy, a liquor made from distilling wine. It teams up with the sweet vermouth to battle against the spicy rye whiskey in the Vieux Carre. There are several grades of Cognac that shows how long it’s been aged:

  • VS or 3 stars (2 years)
  • VSOP (4 years)
  • Napoléon (6 years)
  • XO (10 years)

Bottles of XO can be upwards of $200! No need to go that high-end, of course. For the French Connection cocktail, you can use a mid-priced VS or VSOP Cognac. Other drinks that use Cognac? Try the tangy Classic Sidecar, the simple French Connection, or boozy Between the Sheets.

Vieux carre cocktail

What is Benedictine?

Benedictine is an herbal liqueur made in France. It’s made with 27 different herbs, flowers, berries and spices, and was invented in the mid 1800’s. It’s sweetened with honey, and the flavor is lightly sweet and spiced. Benedictine is not used in many classic cocktails outside of the Singapore Sling, so we recommend it for the adventurous home bartender! Even so, it should be fairly easy to find at your local liquor store to make a Vieux Carre.

Peychaud bitters vs Angostura bitters

To finish off the Vieux Carre, you’ll use not one but two types of bitters! Using the two types brings even more complexity to this intense drink. Here’s a little breakdown:

  • Angostura bitters: The most common of all bitters! You’ll find a few shakes of this type of bitters in lots of classic cocktails, like the Classic Old Fashioned, Pisco Sour, and Champagne Cocktail. The flavor? It’s bitter with a hint of spice (think clove and cinnamon).
  • Peychaud bitters: These bitters are a little less common, most popularly known for inclusion in the Sazerac cocktail. The flavor is a little sweeter than Angostura, with hints of anise and mint.
Vieux Carre

How to make a Vieux Carre

Phew! Once you’ve gathered all the ingredients, the easy part is making the Vieux Carre cocktail! This three ingredient cocktail takes only 5 minutes to make. Here are the main steps:

  • Stir together all ingredients in a cocktail mixing glass. Why not a shaker like most cocktails? Well, shaking in a cocktail shaker dilutes the drink because of the ice, and since this is all alcohol you don’t want too diluted.
  • Don’t have one? You can definitely use any glass or container you like to mix the drink, then strain it into the serving glass. But if you want to look like someone who knows their cocktails, grab yourself a cocktail mixing glass. (Plus, it just looks cool.)

Related cocktails!

There are plenty of other famous drinks associated with New Orleans: a few of which are close relatives of the Vieux Carre! Here are a few you should try:

  • Sazerac This drink is the official New Orleans cocktail, according to a decision by the Louisiana Legislature in 2008! It’s got rye whiskey, Cognac, and Peychaud’s bitters just like the Vieux Carre — but it also adds absinthe.
  • La Louisiane An improvement on the Sazerac (we think)! This one is even closer to the Vieux Carre, featuring rye, Cognac, sweet vermouth, and Peychaud’s bitters. But it’s got a different mix of proportions and adds absinthe for good measure.

When to serve a Vieux Carre cocktail

The Vieux Carre is a sophisticated and complex whiskey cocktail. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Vieux Carre

Vieux Carre Cocktail


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 4.78 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

The Vieux Carre cocktail is a 1930’s classic from New Orleans! It’s strong and sippable, featuring rye whiskey, Cognac and vermouth.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) rye whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) Cognac
  • 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Benedictine
  • 1 dash Peychaud bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)
  • For the garnish: Luxardo cherry or cocktail cherry

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds until very cold.
  2. Add ice to a lowball glass and strain in the drink. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Vieux Carre, Vieux Carre Cocktail

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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