Oh what a romatic story it would be, telling you that I fell in love with the Vieux Carré during a trip to New Orleans, sipping away the evening in some neighborhood bar just off of Jackson Square. The reality is most of my trips to Nola occurred at a time when I was more inclined to drink frozen drinks and cheap beer on Bourbon Street, stumbling into tiny bars with tiny blues and jazz bands, rather than exploring the city's history through its cocktail culture. The additional reality is that I didn't know about this cocktail until I was doing some research for a New Orleans themed party we were throwing just a few years ago. The result, regardless, is the same: there's one in my glass.
One of the Christmas presents under the t:e organization's tree this year is a great little cocktail book call "Old Man Drinks." This was a gift from, well, my old man. A perfect and thoughful gift. The first, if I'm keeping count, but we don't. Thumbing through it tonight (yesterday) I was reminded of the Vieux Carré, so off I went to the liquor cabinet (more commoly known collectively as the garage, the basement, and the pantry) to find the 6 ingredients in the damned thing.
It's an odd cocktail in that it boasts two base spirits: rye and congac. On top of that oddity it's got almost an equal amount of sweet ingredients to those base spirits: sweet vermouth and Benedictine. Thankfully 4 dashes of bitters help to bring it all together, and add a much needed bite.
Most of the recipes you'll find online and in books are consistent in the ratios, which generally go a little like this:
- 1 ounce rye
- 1 ounce cognac
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 0.5 ounce Benedictine (if not a bit less)
- 2 dashes Peychauds bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stirred, served over fresh ice in a rocks glass.
There is of course a similarity to a Manhattan, but this drink is a bit more complex, what with the extra stuff, and no doubt better served, served on the rocks. In fact dilution is this cocktail's friend. Benedictine and sweet vermouth both have a somewhat syrupy quality to them. Hell, even congnac, for my palate, is a bit too sweet to be sipped neat. I applaud those who enjoy that stuff, but it's just as well I don't, given the price-points. A good amount of dilution tamps down the sweetness level of this drink. It's a cocktail you can sip over the course of an hour and not have to worry about ending up with a watered down drink. It improves with age.
On a cold winter night, this cocktail really hits the spot. Come to think of it, New Orleans is as hot as balls, so I'm not sure why this thing even came to be. Knowing that, I suppose, is for people who read books.
If there's a point to this post, it's: drink less, and better. The real point was to post a picture with this 50mm lens, regardless of the photo's flaws. I'll figure out photography one of these days.