If anything sums up New Orleans in a glass, it’s the Vieux Carré: boisterous, intoxicating, and culturally diverse. Although most cocktail drinkers know the Vieux Carré’s kissing cousin, the Sazerac, the VC itself, invented at the city’s famous rotating Carousel Bar, had fallen out of fashion until recently.
Thanks to the craft cocktail movement, bartenders have dusted off vintage cocktail books and revived this hometown drink. The potent recipe calls for rye, sweet vermouth, and French spirits – a nod to the city’s Gallic influences – plus Peychaud’s bitters, brought to New Orleans by a Creole apothecary in the late 1700s.
High West Double Rye, $40
High West – the nation’s only ski-in, ski-out distillery, located in Park City, Utah – produces this mellow but spicy whiskey that’s a blend of 2-yearold and 16-year-old ryes. Flavor notes: black pepper, caramel, and vanilla.
Few Rye Whiskey, $74
Evanston, Illinois’ first distillery since the end of Prohibition, Few is shaking things up with its “grain to glass” philosophy. Wine yeast fermentation gives this rye a beautifully balanced flavor profile. Flavor notes: fruity and sweet.
Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey, $46
Voted “Craft Whiskey of the Year” by Whisky Advocate, Dad’s Hat is a traditional Pennsylvania-style rye, sweeter and more robust. Flavor notes: stone fruit, herbs, and spice.
Catoctin Creek Organic Roundstone Rye, $52
Made from 100 percent rye, Roundstone is aged a little less than two years. If you like lighter ryes, you’ll enjoy this handcrafted Virginia whiskey. Flavor notes: banana, vanilla, and toffee.
Sazerac Rye, $30
Made by the legendary Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, Sazerac Rye is perfect for bourbon (and bargain) lovers. Flavor notes: charred oak, vanilla, anise, and pepper.
The Vieux Carré: Here’s a simplified version of the original recipe created by Walter Bergeron, head bartender at the Carousel Bar. It was first printed in a 1937 book about New Orleans cocktails.
1 ounce rye whiskey
1 ounce cognac
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 bar spoon Bénédictine
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters Lemon twist, for garnish
Stir all ingredients with ice until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.