Drinks

Vieux Carré

Vieux Carré.

The Vieux Carré is a New Orleans classic that was forgotten for almost 70 years. Fortunately, it has since gained a higher profile. We shed light on its past and that of the neighbourhood from which it takes its name.

30 ml Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
30 ml 1776 James E. Pepper rye
30 ml Moot vermouth
5 ml Bénédictine
2 Dashes Angostura bitters
2 Dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Preparation: Stirred, sprinkle with a lemon zest.

The Vieux Carré was created by Walter Bergeron. [1] Many sources report that it was created in 1938. This cannot be proven more precisely. In any case, the recipe first appeared in print in Stanley Clisby Arthur’s book “Famous New Orleans Drinks”. [1] We have the third printing from 1938. The first printing was in November 1937, and we may assume that it is already present in the first edition. Although the hotel also writes that the drink was printed in 1938, we have our doubts for the reasons mentioned above. Unfortunately, we do not have the first edition. [4]

The Gardette-La-Petre House in New Orleans' French Quarter, c. 1937.
The Gardette-La-Petre House in New Orleans’ French Quarter, c. 1937. [6]

We can assume that the drink was created in the 1930s, at the Hotel Monteleone, where Walter Bergeron was bar manager. [1] It is named after the French Quarter in New Orleans, which is called the “Vieux Carré” in French. [1] This quarter, in which the Hotel Monteleone is also located, [2] is the part of New Orleans, as we read in Stanley Clisby Arthur, “where the antique shops and the iron lace balconies give sightseers a glimpse into the romance of another day”. [1] [16]

What is this quarter all about? To understand this better, you have to briefly look at the history of New Orleans. New Orleans is located in the estuary delta of the Mississippi River. French explorers, trappers and traders arrived in the area in the 1690s. Some settled in what is now the city, and a French fort was built in 1701. In 1718, the French Mississippi Company, the “compagnie du Mississippi”, led by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Nienville, founded the settlement “La Nouvelle-Orléans”, now called New Orleans, on the territory of the Chitimacha Indians. The settlement was named after Philippe II de Bourbon, Duke of Orléans, who at the time was reigning in France on behalf of the still minor Louis XV. [11] [12] [13] [14] [10] The settlement was built on a slightly higher piece of land. In 1721, New Orleans’ oldest quarter was designed by Adrian de Pauger. Today it is called the “French Quarter”, the French knew it as “vieux caré”. It is about 0.3 metres above sea level and has a land area of 1.3 km2. The “French Market”, a central square of the quarter, was an Indian trading place at that time. The settlement developed around the central “old square”, the “vieux carré”. [11] [12] Throughout its history, New Orleans changed hands many times. Founded in 1718, it was already the capital of Louisiana in 1722. In 1762 it went to Spain, called itself “Nueva Orleans”, went again to France in 1800, and in 1803 it was acquired by the United States in the “Luisiana Purchase.” [12] [13] The latter refers to the sale of Louisiana to the United States. For 15 million dollars, 2144476 km2 of land was sold, an area that lay west of the Mississippi River and stretched from the Gulf of Mexico up into Canada. The purchase price, measured in purchasing power, would be equivalent to $223 million in 2013. With this purchase, the United States doubled its territory, and even today it comprises almost a quarter of the entire United States. [15]

Royal Street in New Orleans with the Hotel Monteleone in the background, around 1930.
Royal Street in New Orleans with the Hotel Monteleone in the background, around 1930. [9]

In 1788, a fire destroyed most of the town. 856 houses were destroyed. In 1794, there was another fire that claimed another 212 buildings. Subsequently, houses made of brick replaced the burnt, wooden, French colonial-style predecessor buildings. The architectural style from this period of reconstruction is characteristic of the district. You will find multi-storey buildings grouped around a central courtyard, large archways, and also the decorative use of wrought iron on balconies and galleries was ubiquitous in Spain and the Spanish colonies at that time. Almost all of the buildings that remain in the French Quarter date from the late 18th century and were built under the Spanish. However, buildings from the first half of the 19th century, built after the annexation of the United States, also remain. Since the 1920s, the historic buildings have been classified as historical monuments and may not be demolished. [11] [12] [13] [14]

Even before the American Civil War (1861-1865), French Creoles were in the minority in the French Quarter. In the late 19th century, the neighbourhood was not very popular and many Italian and Irish immigrants settled there. In 1905, between a third and a half of the residents were either from Italy themselves or were children of Italian immigrants.[11]

Hotel Monteleone and Hotel Commercial around 1910.
Hotel Monteleone and Hotel Commercial around 1910. [8]

Among the Italian immigrants was the shoe manufacturer Antonio Monteleone. He came to New Orleans from Sicily around 1880 and opened a cobbler’s shop on Royal Street. In 1886 he bought a small hotel with 64 rooms at the corner of Royal Street and Iberville Street. He later acquired the “Commercial Hotel” next door. In the course of its history, the hotel was extended several times. In 1903, 30 rooms were added. In 1908 another 300 rooms were added and the name of the hotel “Commercial Hotel” was changed to “Hotel Monteleone”. In 1913 Antonio Monteleone died and his son Frank took over the business. In 1928, he expanded the hotel by another 200 rooms. It was one of the few family-run hotels to survive the Great Depression. In 1954, with the fourth expansion of the hotel, the original building was demolished. [5] [17]

The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone in 2006.
The Carousel Bar at the Hotel  Monteleone in 2006. [7]

In many sources, Walter Bergeron and his Vieux Carré cocktail are associated with the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone. However, when the cocktail was created, this bar did not yet exist. The hotel’s Carousel Piano Bar was not built until 1949. There are 25 seats at this carousel bar and the carousel spins once in 15 minutes. [2] [3] [17] However, the Vieux Carré cocktail is the signature drink of the hotel bar. [4]

 

Sources
  1. Stanley Clisby Arthur: Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’em. Page 53.
  2. http://www.eyeforspirits.com/2015/07/06/vieux-carre-cocktail/: Der Vieux Carré Cocktail: Eine Hommage an das New Orleans der 30er. By Philip Reim, 8. July 2015.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carousel_Piano_Bar_%26_Lounge: Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge.
  4. http://hotelmonteleone.com/blog/tales-of-the-cocktail-special-menu/: Tales of the Cocktail Special Menu. 9. July 2014.
  5. http://hotelmonteleone.com/history/: History. Standing Tall on Royal St. since 1886. History, Hauntings & Authors.
  6. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frances_Benjamin_Johnston,_House_of_the_Turk,_Dauphine_Street,_New_Orleans,_1937-8.jpg: Gardette-LaPrete House, formerly known as the House of the Turk, Dauphine Street, New Orleans. Photograph shows ironwork surrounding the galleries of buildings at the corner of Dauphine and Orleans streets in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. 1937 or 1938.
  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carousel_Bar_interior.jpg: The Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone. 17 May 2006.
  8. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RoyalStCommercialMonteleone.jpg: New Orleans: early 20th century postcard view of Commercial and Monteleone Hotels on Royal Street. (The “Commercial” was later bought out by the Monteleone, and an addition to the Monteleone built on the location.) Not dated. c. 1910s.
  9. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RoyalStNOLA1930scardCarsTrack.jpg: “Royal Street, New Orleans, LA.” Photo postcard, c. 1930.The view looks upriver from the 600 block of Royal Street (between St. Peter and Toulouse Streets) in the French Quarter towards Canal Street. Period automobiles are seen parked on both sides of the street. Streetcar tracks run down the center of the street. Monteleone high-rise building visible in distance to center left. Not dated. Photo taken at end of 1920s or early 1930s. This copy was mailed with a postmark of November 3, 1935, meaning it must predate that.
  10. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippe_II._de_Bourbon,_duc_d%E2%80%99Orl%C3%A9ans: Philippe II. de Bourbon, duc d’Orléans.
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Quarter: French Wuarter.
  12. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Orleans: New Orleans.
  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Orleans: New Orleans.
  14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_New_Orleans: History of New Orleans.
  15. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Purchase: Louisiana Purchase.
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Street,_New_Orleans: Royal Street, New Orleans.
  17. Paul Oswell: New Orleans Historic Hotels. ISBN 978-1-62619-687-2. Charleston, The History Press, 2014.
Vieux Carré.
Vieux Carré.

Historical recipes

1938 Stanley Clisby Arthur: Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’em. Seite 53. Vieux Carré Cocktail.

1/2 teaspoon benedictine
1 dash Peychaud bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/3 jigger rye whiskey
1/3 jigger cognac brandy
1/3 jigger Italian vermouth
The benedictine is used as a base and also for sweetening the
cocktail. Dash on the bitters, then add the rye, brandy, and
vermouth. Put several lumps of ice in the barglass. Stir. Twist
a slice of lemon peel over the mixture. Drop in a slice of pine-
apple and a cherry if you wish and serve in mixing glass.
This is the cocktail that Walter Bergeron, head bar-
tender of the Hotel Monteleone cocktail lounge, takes
special pride in mixing. He originated it, he says, to do
honor to the famed Vieux Carré, that part of New Or-
leans where the antique shops and the iron lace balconies
give sightseers a glimpse into the romance of another day.

1943 Stanley Clisby Arthur: Famous New Orleans Drinks. Seite 53. Vieux Carré Cocktail.

1/2 teaspoon benedictine
1 dash Peychaud bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/3 jigger rye whiskey
1/3 jigger cognac brandy
1/3 jigger Italian vermouth
The benedictine is used as a base and also for sweetening the
cocktail. Dash on the bitters, then add the rye, brandy, and
vermouth. Put several lumps of ice in the barglass. Stir. Twist
a slice of lemon peel over the mixture. Drop in a slice of pine­-
apple and a cherry if you wish and serve in mixing glass.
This is the cocktail that Walter Bergeron, head bar­-
tender of the Hotel Monteleone cocktail lounge, takes
special pride in mixing. He originated it, he says, to do
honor to the famed Vieux Carri, that part of New Or­-
leans where the antique shops and the iron lace balconies
give sightseers a glimpse into the romance of another day.

2009 Ted Haigh: Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. Seite 280. Vieux Carré Cocktail. 3 cl rye whiskey; 3 cl cognac; 3 cl sweet vermouth; 1/2 teaspoon Benedictine; 2 dashes Angostura Bitters; 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters; garnish: lemon twist; Rocks glass with ice.

2011 Brad Thomas Parsons: Bitters. Seite 148. Vieux Carré. 1 ounce rye; 1 ounce cognac; 1 ounce sweet vermouth; 1/4 ounce Bénédictine; 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters; 2 dashes Angostura bitters; garnish: lemon twist. Old-fashioned glass with one large ice cube.

2011 Helmut Adam, Jens Hasenbein, Bastian Heuser: Cocktailian 1. Seite 465. Vieux Carré. 3 cl Cognac VSOP; 3 cl Bourbon oder Rye Whiskey; 3 cl roter Wermut; 1/2 barlöffel Bénédictine; 2 Dash Angostura; 2 Dash Peychaud Bitters; Garnitur: Zitronenzeste.

2011 Jim Meehan: Das Geheime Cocktail-Buch. Seite 261. Vieux Carré. 3 cl Sazerac Rye Whiskey (6 Jahre); 3 cl Hine V.S.O.P. Cognac; 3 cl Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth; 0,75 cl Bénédictine; 1 Spritzer Angostura; 1 Spritzer Peychaud’s Bitters. Tumbler mit großen Eiswürfeln.

2012 Tom Sandham: World’s Best Cocktails. Seite 236. Vieux Carré. 30 ml cognac; 30 ml rye whiskey; 30 ml sweet vermouth; 1 teaspoon Bénédictine; 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters; 1 dash Angostura bitters; garnish: orange zest strip; rocks glass with fresh ice.

2014 Dave Arnold: Liquid Intelligence. Seite 130. Vieux Carré. 1 Unze Rye Whiskey; 1 Unze Cognac; 3/4 Unze süßer Wermut; 1/4 Unze Bénédictine; 1 Dash Angostura Bitters; 1 Dash Peychaud’s Bitters. Im Old-Fashioned-Glass mit einem großen Stück Eis servieren.

2014 David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, Alex Day: Death & Co. Seite 153. Vieux Carré. 1 ounce Rittenhouse 100 rye; 1 ounce Pierre Ferrand Ambre cognac; 1 ounce Carpano Antica Formula vermouth; 1 teaspoon Bénédictine; 1 dash Angostura bitters; 1 dash House Peychaud’s bitters; rocks glass with ice; garnish: lemon twist. House Peychaud’s bitters (Seite 284): 2 parts Peychaud’s bitters; 1 part Bitter Truth creole bitters.

2015 Duggan McDonnell: Drinking the devil’s acre. Seite 120. Vieux Carré. 45 ml California brandy; 15 ml rye whiskey; 15 ml Italian vermouth; 10 Bénédictine; 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters, 2 dashes aromatic bitters. Garnish: ecpressed lemon peel.

2016 André Darlington & Tenaya Darlington: The New Cocktail Hour. Seite 104. Vieux Carré. 30 ml Sazerac rye whiskey; 30 ml Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac; 15 ml Carpano Antica Formula; 1/4 Teelöffel Bénédictine; 1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters; 1 dash Angostura Bitters; Garnitur: Zitronenzeste.

2016 Anonymus: Cocktails. 2016. Seite 31. Vieux Carré. 3 cl Cognac VSOP; 3 cl Rye oder Bourbon Whiskey; 3 cl roter Wermut; 0,75 cl Bénédictine; 1 dash Angostura Bitters; 1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters; Garnitur: Zitronenzeste.

2016 Brian Silva: Mixing in the Right Circles at Balthazar London. Seite 40. Vieux Carre. 25 ml Sazerac Rye Whiskey; 25 ml Courvoisier Exclusif Cognac; 15 ml Martini Rosso; 5 ml Nénédictine; dash of Peychaud’s bitters; dash of Angostura bitters; garnish: cocktail cherry.

2016 Brian Silva: Mixing in the Right Circles at Balthazar London. Seite 40. Vieux Carre. 60 ml The Famous Grouse; 15 ml Martini Rosso Vermouth; 5 ml Drambuie Liqueur; 2 drops Angostura bitters; garnish: lemon peel.

2016 Philip Greene: The Manhattan. Seite 166. Vieux Carré. 1 Unze Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac; 1 Unze Sazerac Rye Whiskey; 1 Unze Martini Sweet Vermouth; 2 Dash Angostura Bitters; 2 Dash Peychaud’s Bitters; 1 Teelöffel Bénédictine; Garnitur: Zitronenzeste.

2017 Gary Regan: The Joy of Mixology. Seite 288. Vieux Carré. 3/4 ounce rye whiskey; 3/4 ounce brandy; 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth; 1/4 ounce Bénédictine; 1 to 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters; 1 to 2 dashes Angostura bitters.

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About

Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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