Vieux Carré Cocktail
The Vieux Carré is a traditional cocktail that like many good things, was born in New Orleans. There are debates about exactly how to prepare the drink and the proper ratio of Rye to Cognac to sweet vermouth. One doesn’t want to stir it too much, and certainly do NOT shake it (oh no, no). It’s best to serve it over a very large ice cube (these large cubes are quite the rage in LA bars). I’m certain we could make them ourselves easily in some oversized ice tray. The big cube means the drink won’t get diluted nearly as much as the ice melts. The other option to reduce drink dilution is CONSUME YOUR DRINKS MORE QUICKLY, but with drinks this strong, that may be unwise… It’s worth saying a few words about Templeton Rye. When prohibition outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in 1920 some enterprising residents of a tiny town in Iowa created Templeton Rye, a quite high caliber whiskey that was at one point Al Capone’s whiskey of choice in his bootlegging empire. This small batch whiskey was finally produced legally beginning in 2006. Take a look at the Templeton Rye website for some great stories about American Prohibition, and some great drink recipes too.
Vieux Carré Cocktail (makes one cocktail)
- 1-oz Templeton Rye
- 1-oz Cognac Leyrat Fine VS
- 1-oz sweet vermouth
- .25 oz Benedictine liqueur
- 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
Stir (do not shake). Pour over ice in a mixing glass and then strain into a cocktail glass to serve.
The Bella Rose, a before-dinner cocktail loosely based on The Negroni
This is a variation of a drink I had at The Corner Door in Culver City, California. The Corner Door’s drink is called The King’s Assassin and is loosely based on the Negroni (gin, sweet vermouth and bitters – fondly referred to by many as the granddaddy of all before-dinner cocktails). The Corner Door uses Cocchi Americano in its drink, which – according to Serious Eats, is a slightly bitter version of Lillet Rose. You see originally Lillet Rose, a popular French aperitif that is used in many traditional cocktails, included quinine, which made it bitter tasting. Quinine was initially consumed to help prevent Malaria and over time people developed a taste for its bitterness and began to include it in cocktails of various types. In 1986 the French dropped the quinine in Lillet Rose and it became a smoother, less tart aperitif. In the last two years an Italian aperitif has surfaced that includes quinine and is, according to bartenders in the know, a near copy of the old formulation of Lillet Rose. The King’s Assassin includes gin, sweet vermouth, Salers, Cocchi Americano and Cointreau. My version uses Lillet Rose and a hint of simple syrup in addition to gin, dry (not sweet) vermouth, Salers and Cointreau, and although it has some of the same essence of The King’s Assassin, it is a smoother cocktail with far less bite and less acidity. It’s meant to be consumed before dinner, or with an appetizer course. It packs a pretty serious punch in terms of alcohol content. More than one of these and you won’t remember to have dinner.
The Bella Rose (makes two cocktails)
- 1 ½-oz gin
- 1-oz dry vermouth
- 1-oz Salers
- 1-oz Lillet Rose
- 1-oz Cointreau
- ½-oz simple syrup
Pour all of the ingredients over ice in a drink shaker. Shake hard. Strain and serve.