Vieux Carreé

A winter warmer from the Big Easy ...

It's still pretty cold out there – we've had more than enough snow for one season, thanks – and continued cold weather calls for something hearty, with a great big flavor.

That's just what you get in a Vieux Carreé. Invented in the 1930s at New Orleans' famed Hotel Monteleone, it echoes in a cocktail everything wonderful about the French Quarter. Festive, spicy, layered, adult, a little mysterious, a little wicked and ... strong!

What's not to like about that on a cold winter evening? Mix up a few of these and laissez le bon temps rouler!

Vieux Carreé

  • 3/4 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz cognac or brandy
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 oz Bénédictine*
  • 1 dash Peychaud's bitters*
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters*

Stir with ice in a beaker or shaker until very cold and strain onto fresh ice in an on-the-rocks glass. Garnish, if you wish, with a brandided cherry.
Sip slowly and feel the warmth spread out to your fingers and toes.

* A word about ingredients.
Bénédictine is a sweet-tasting herbal liqueur from France that's been made since the mid-19th century. Unlike Chartreuse, which we used and talked about last month, it is not made by monks. Alexandre Le Grand, the guy who came up with the closely-guarded recipe decided to call it Bénédictine as a marketing ploy.

Re the bitters we are using: Angostura bitters are the kind you can find at just about any grocery store along with cocktail mixers. Spicy and herby, they are fundamental to lots of drinks, most notably, the Manhattan. Peychaud's bitters come from New Orleans, have a sweeter taste than Angosura with a hint of anise, and are the cirtical ingredient in a Sazerac.