Recipe: Vieux Carré (serves one)
- 1/2 oz. rye
- 1/2 oz. Cognac
- 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
- 1/2 tsp. Bénédictine
- 1 dash (= 1/8 tsp.) Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 dash (= 1/8 tsp.) Angostura bitters
- lemon twist
Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into an ice-filled cocktail glass. Rub lemon twist around rim, and drop into glass for garnish.
We recently read an article on the most over- and underrated cocktails, where 15 bartenders shared their votes. For the most part, we agreed. The Moscow mule was listed as one of the most overrated, with the gin and tequila versions as tastier choices. We definitely prefer the tequila version, the Mexican Mule (we have yet to try the gin variant). They also listed the Negroni as one of the most underrated; we love the Negroni too. One thing that surprised us, though, was that the Manhattan was listed as one of the most overrated cocktails; the Sweet Manhattan is one of our favorite drinks!
They said the Manhattan is overrated since there are much better variants. One alternative they suggested was the Vieux Carré (pronounced “VOO caRAY”), and we must say, this is even better than the Manhattan. I think it’s my new favorite cocktail. Its base is equal parts rye and Cognac (compared to just rye or bourbon in the Manhattan), and it includes two kinds of bitters plus a touch of sweet, herbal Bénédictine. The result is smoother, a tad sweeter, and more deeply flavored than the Manhattan.
This cocktail was invented at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans in the 1930s; its name refers to the French Quarter — literally, the “Old Square”. We actually had a variant of the Vieux Carré last night at Seco in Pasadena, made with orange bitters instead of Peychaud’s, and just called “Old Square”.
We still love the Manhattan, though. We’ve never had a bad one at a bar, and rarely had a bartender say they don’t have the required ingredients.