Friday Night Cocktail Series: The Vieux Carré

Making it through that 1st full week following the holidays isn’t easy. If you’re on the East Coast it’s freezing, the work didn’t disappear since you took off, and your calendar probably isn’t filled with fun and exciting plans just yet.

If you’re not on a New Year’s resolution cleanse, then treat yourself to a New Orleans classic – The Vieux Carré, while you kick back & relax this weekend. It’s similar to a Sazerac or an Old Fashioned, but definitely a more complex spin on these classics.
Vieux Carre New Orleans classic cocktail1 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. Cognac
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1/4 oz. Bénédictine
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Tools: shot measure, mixing glass, barspoon, strainer
Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: thick lemon twist

Combine all the ingredients except the garnish in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir until chilled and strain into a chilled old-fashioned-type glass over one large ice cube. Garnish with a thick lemon twist (as with all our drinks, we usually squeeze the garnish over the glass to release some citrus notes). Enjoy!

Big ice cubes make the biggest difference in saving the flavor of your cocktails when they call to be poured over ice. Get some king-sized molds. Trust us, you’ll use ’em all the time!

As for all of the ingredients, you may need to take some of that holiday bonus and invest to make this mildly complex concoction.

The alternative is to bookmark it for another day and slowly amass your collection! That’s what we’ve done. Liquor gifts aren’t always appropriate, but it sure does help justify building a greater assortment of spirits & bitters to experiment with.

Another tip is to start by buying in smaller volumes. You’re never going to pour as much Bénédictine (herbal liqueur; $35) as rye whiskey when tackling classic cocktails, so buy small.

Vermouths on the other hand are a much more common additive and relatively inexpensive, so we keep larger bottles in the closet and refill the miniatures on our shelf. Noilly Prat is in many bars’ arsenals and is still reasonably priced at ~$12.

Redemption Rye (~$26) isn’t as solid of a sipper as WhistlePig, so we’ll use it in cocktails. Bulleit Rye (~$24) is another alternative that won’t break the bank and still mixes well.

We substitute Armagnac for Cognac in our drinks, as it has better body / is more complex in flavor. Note: Both Armagnac and Cognac are in the Brandy family and are distilled wine made from white grapes that’s aged for at least 1-2 years.

Especially because of the  price you pay for the bottle, you’ll want Armagnac anyway for a better sipping option. Don’t worry, you won’t use it as often as rye whiskey in cocktails, so it should last.

Tariquet Bas-Armagnac VSOP (~$45) isn’t difficult to find. Steep price yes, but we’ve had a bottle for almost a year now and it’s still almost 3/4 full!

Some of you make think we’re crazy when you add up everything above, but you’ve gotta look at the averages here. A classic cocktail will run you $10-$17 at any of the area speakeasy’s/cocktail bars when you can instead make 10’s of drinks at home over the course of years, for much less.

Plus, it’s a lot of fun and you can adjust ingredients to your taste. Enjoy responsibly folks and have a great weekend!

-The Sweet and Sweaty