The elevator opens and you encounter the bright ecstatic cacophony of the city. Everyone here is well dressed, but not as well as you. You are a little early. You move easily through the crowd as a seat opens in front of you at the long mahogany bar. She’ll be in a few more minutes, so you look from your watch to the bartender, waistcoat and tie over a shirt so white it must be new:
“May I buy you a drink, sir?” “
That’s what the Vieux Carré is to me. It is a tailor-made suit. It’s jazz and a good cigar. Muscular and elegant, seductive and complex, this is one of those cocktails that you seem to order well and feel good to drink, like you yourself are more sophisticated to be around it. And while that’s enough, it also happens to be one of the greatest variations of Manhattan ever made.
As with so many Manhattan plays, the cocktail takes its name from the neighborhood in which it was invented: “Vieux Carré” means “old place,” what they call the French Quarter of New Orleans. It comes to us from 1937 – one of the few classic drinks to have been invented after Prohibition – designed by head bartender Walter Bergeron at the famous Hotel Monteleone, which now stands, as since 1886, one block down the street. Bourbon on the southern end of the French Quarter.
Today, the Hotel Monteleone is best known for its somewhat curious Carousel Bar, which the website proudly boasts of being “the only revolving bar in town”, in which the bar and everyone literally circle the Bartender at manageable but still odd rate of a turn every fifteen minutes. The idea of such an elegant cocktail invented in a room that is a bit spoiled for me is spoiling my day, and it’s heartwarming to know that it wasn’t, because in Bergeron’s time it was ‘called the Swan Bar and wouldn’t be converted into an orbital experiment for another 11 years.
It’s a drink in its own right from New Orleans. These Crescent City folks are exceptionally proud of their heritage, and whenever you have the sweetness of French cognac and liqueur mixed with the dry structure of American rye whiskey, all combined with the city’s Peychaud bitters in one. only drink that is once fun, refined and incredibly delicious, there really is only one place it could come from.
Stir for 20 to 30 seconds solids. Filter into a cocktail glass, garnish with lemon zest.
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS
Rye: should be big and spicy. I’m not very into brands here – my must-haves are my Kentucky 100 proof giants, like Rittenhouse, Wild Turkey 101 Rye, but that’s probably because that’s what I know best. If you have a 100+ rye, this will probably work. An older and / or more expensive model like WhistlePig or Colonel EH Taylor Rye will also be excellent, but not necessarily better, just different. You can get punchy with even bolder rye if you want, like the 110-proof traffic jams of Pikesville or the Willett Family Estate. The danger of this drink is the sweetness, so a few more alcohol points will not hurt.
What will hurt him is too little. I’m hesitant to go below 50 percent alcohol for whiskey and obviously wouldn’t go below 45. The alcohol is balanced by the sweetness; less alcohol and sweetness is starting to be a problem.
Cognac: I prefer VSOP or better. Too young and you’ll taste the funky character of brandy, which still makes a great drink, but it’s not ideal. The cocktail is at its best when the cognac gives rich, supple and woody notes to balance the spicy rye. For this cocktail, I like to take Hine VSOP
Vermouth: More often than not when I go to someone’s house I see a nice bottle of gin and a nice bottle of vodka and some great whiskeys and a bottle of crisp aging of the worst vermouth I’ve ever seen in my life . Take this as a public service announcement: vermouth is not a trivial ingredient. The decision to make an Vieux Carré (or for that matter a Manhattan or a Negroni) depends on the existence of a non-horrible vermouth. If all you have is a lower shelf brand that you bought for $ 4.99, throw it away.
My favorite all-purpose sweet vermouth is the Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, which is versatile and quite available and makes a very good Vieux Carré, but my favorite for this particular drink is the Carpano Antica, with its powerful intensity of vanilla and stone fruit. . If you can catch one, do it. Otherwise, your mileage may vary from brand to brand.
Bitter: It requires both Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, and you indeed need both. The good news is that Angostura is a fundamental and necessary addition to any home bar, and while Peychaud’s isn’t really one of those things, it’s inexpensive, so there is that.
Glassware: The most fruitful disagreement between professionals is whether to prepare this drink in a highball glass on ice or in a cut or cocktail glass, high.
This particular cocktail needs a lot of dilution. This sweetness can be nauseating if not chilled and diluted enough, which is why almost everyone chooses to make it over ice. It was certainly designed that way by Bergeron himself, and I would never say that an Vieux Carré on ice is in any way incorrect, but that’s not how I do it. Instead, I tone down the sweetness by stirring for longer than the other drinks, about 20 seconds, depending on the ice, to get a little extra water before straining it. Indeed, one of the main pleasures of this drink is the way in which the herbal play of vermouth and benedict evolves as it heats up.
The cocktail is wacky in almost any form, but my favorite part is how the herbal complexity – a base note at the start, lumped together with the perception of sweetness – begins to take center stage over time. time. The warming up changes it and the change is half the fun, providing an axis point to focus on. It’s like a Manhattan, but more interesting. What could be more sophisticated than that?