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


“Almost” Doesn’t Cut It Joe

Joe Russo's Almost DeadWe’ve seen a lot of Dead tribute bands. I would elect to say that even some of these bands that contained original members from the Grateful Dead should be dubbed “tribute” bands as well. But, that’s probably a debate for another day.

Whether you are a certified “Head” or just a casual Dead imbiber, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead will do more than almost steal your face, they will melt it right off! They did just that on January 2nd at the venerable Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY (Separate posts to come on ‘The Cap’ and surrounding pre-concert favorites along with helpful tips).
The Capitol Theatre

Joe Russo added a ton of oomph to Furthur with a drumming style that was far more power forward vs. the original sound and stylings of the Dead. However, the style did not stray too far from the Dead’s roots, being that Furthur contained two, surviving members.

That’s where there’s nothing ‘almost’ about this Dead tribute as Joe Russo fully embraces loud rock drumming, adding a completely new sound and style to Dead classics. All the other members play up to this force as well, which creates their own, unique wall of sound.

The crowd was warmed up by The Speakeasy Jazz Babies playing traditional, New Orleans-style jazz (that actually included Dave Dreiwitz’ Mom & Dad in honor of Dave’s 50th).
Joe Russo's Almost Dead

This acoustic set was a perfect appetizer and only allowed Joe Russo’s Almost Dead to contrast it in full form. You had sweet and touching, followed by sweaty and no apologies!

Let’s not call it an updated sound or not classic either, that’s too harsh. This is just something we haven’t seen done on this scale before. Sure, there is most certainly a hard rocking Dead cover band out there playing ‘Dead Thursdays’ at your local watering hole, but Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is actually hitting and delighting mass theater crowds with their take on the Dead.

And don’t worry too much about this being a heavy metal Dead. The guitar tones and level of distortion still sit well within the Dead’s traditional sound. The keys and bass are a bit outside the traditional lines in terms of volume and tones, but they only left a positive effect on the Dead classics they played.

There’s no doubt that musical influences have something to do with this more power forward tribute to the Dead. Outside of Dave Dreiwitz, best known as the bassist for Ween, Marco Benevento (piano/keys/organ), Tom Hamilton (guitar), and Scott Metzger (guitar), all clock in under 40 years old (i.e., I would wager a bet that there’s more Zeppelin and 80’s hard rock baked into these boys vs. bluegrass and other roots music).

Regardless of the crowd’s age span and possibly own diverse influences, everyone embraced what Joe Russo’s Almost Dead were bringing on the stage. Whatever stones the band threw, we threw back harder, only enlivening the performance.

If you’re in the New Haven area, you’ll have a chance to witness Joe Russo’s Almost Dead in all their glory at College Street Music Hall on February 11th. For more on College Street, check out this past post.

Joe Russo's Almost Dead

-The Sweet and Sweaty

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
Facebook @JRAlmostDead
Twitter  @RussoAlmostDead

The Capitol Theatre
149 Westchester Avenue, Port Chester, NY, 10573

Pre-concert favorite for drinks: The Rye House

Pre-concert favorite for dinner: El Tio

Our visit to the Whole Harmony Apothecary

Seeking out and supporting local Connecticut small businesses is one of our favorite things to do! We are constantly inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit that drives these small business owners to pursue their passions, and we love it when we can see these passions blossom into successful businesses!  This is why we were so excited to finally make it over to the new Whole Harmony Apothecary in Haddam today.

Whole Harmony Apothecary

(NOTE:  This photo comes from the Whole Harmony 4 U website)

We first became familiar with Whole Harmony 4 U, makers of hand crafted artisan tea, when we attended the 2014 Open Air Market & Festival at the Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown, CT and have been hooked ever since! And we are certainly not alone! If you have ever attended a farmers market or festival where they are participating, you can confirm, that they always have a line at their booth and few who stop are able to resist their assortment of herbal remedies (possibly due to their simple, yet beautiful packaging)!  Another bonus is the fact that if you stop by their booth in the summer, you will be treated to refreshing beverages like Lavender Lemonade or Goji Berry Raspberry Iced Tea and in the winter, you will be able to sample any number of their hot teas!  And we challenge you to walk away without adding at least one blend to your collection!

In addition to offering amazing products they offer to encourage balance & nourishment (as stated on their website), Whole Harmony 4 U offers a variety of other services which are worth highlighting!

  • They host Plant Medicine Classes where attendees can learn in a hands on environment how to make their own creations such as Craft Herbal Cocktails, Bone Broth, Elderberry Syrup and more!
  • Work with owner and certified herbalist, Stacey Wood, to have your own personalized constitutional blend created (we think this is an awesome gift for any tea lover you know).
  • Unique services for weddings including wedding party favors or special wedding blends.

We couldn’t have been happier when we read the news that Stacey and David would be creating their own retail space, the Whole Harmony Apothecary, which opened in October.  Set in scenic Haddam in a renovated 1850’s home, the apothecary is just what fans of Whole Harmony 4 U products would expect. This beautiful and peaceful space includes:

  • Tea Bar
  • Meditation Library/Reading Room
  • Retail Room
  • Yoga Loft

This is also the location where the Plant Medicine classes are held.

We had a lovely time at the Apothecary today and we did not leave empty handed! We enjoyed tastes of their daily teas: Cut the Sh*# (sugar detox) and Chai Tea (which we both purchased a cup of) and also purchased a number of (belated) holiday gifts, including a gift set which included a jar of the tea of our choice, a tea ball, and a seasonal mug in a festive holiday gift box for only $20 (a great deal in our opinion).

If you are a tea lover yourself, or know someone who is, we urge you to pay a visit to the Whole Harmony Apothecary!

-The Sweet and Sweaty

Whole Harmony Apothecary
1572 Saybrook Road, Haddam, CT 06438
Phone: 860-778-4531
Instagram: @wholeharmony

NOTE:  We will continue to highlight our favorite local establishments and products! If you have a favorite, whether it is a local restaurant, brewery, boutique, or artisan product, if it comes from Connecticut we want to know about it, so please share with us!!!