The Ingredients In A Vieux Carré Play An Important (And Cultural) Role

There are many reasons to visit New Orleans. The music is wonderful, the food is incredible, and the cocktail culture is unparalleled. But one of the best parts of visiting New Orleans is soaking up the city's rich cultural history. While you can do this with a cemetery visit, or a ghost tour, you can also combine your historical intake with your food and beverage intake. While not every drink or dish you might try in Crescent City is historical, many are. 

When visiting New Orleans for the first time, it can be fun to imbibe with a classic cocktail that was invented in the city. Most people think of getting a Sazerac at the Sazerac Bar inside the Roosevelt Hotel, as it's one of the most popular options. With that said, having the lesser-known Vieux Carré cocktail in the bar where it was invited packs an even bigger punch. The Vieux Carré was invented at the Carousel Bar inside the famous Hotel Monteleone in 1937, and the barkeep who invented the cocktail, Walter Bergeron, came up with the recipe to recognize the city's rich cultural heritage. Sitting at the Carousel Bar means you get to take a spin on the incredibly unique moving carousel-themed bar, but you also get a peek into the city's history. Famous folks who have taken a spin at the Carousel Bar include William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, and Paul Simon, but the drink was made to pay homage to the famous variety of cultures that made up the community at the time.

A strong mixture

In order to create a cocktail that was beautifully reflective of the community that lived in New Orleans during the 1930s, Bergeron created a blend of liquor that celebrated each cultural group. He included sweet vermouth for the Italian population, Cognac and Benedictine for the French population, rye whiskey for the American population, and bitters for the Caribbean islanders who also lived in New Orleans and who contributed widely to the food culture there. 

The phrase Vieux Carré translates to "old square" in French, which was the nickname for the French Quarter at that time. While the Carousel Bar does make one full revolution in 15 minutes, visitors can avoid further spinning by sipping the Vieux Carré slowly. When all is said and done the drink is about 30% alcohol. If you visit New Orleans, be sure to stop into the Hotel Monteleone and try one of these classic New Orleans cocktails. As long as you sip slowly, you won't regret it! If you won't find yourself heading to the Big Easy anytime soon, however, you can mix one yourself. To make a Vieux Carré at home, mix: ¼ ounce Benedictine, ¼ ounce Cognac, ½ ounce Sazerac rye, and ¼ ounce sweet vermouth with three drops Angostura bitters and three drops Peychaud bitters. Ingredients are stirred together and then served over ice with a lemon twist.