How to Make a Vieux Carré, the Quintessential New Orleans Cocktail

Vieux Carré cocktail on blue tray with large ice cube and lemon twist
Vieux Carré / Photo by Tyler Zielinski

The Vieux Carré cocktail hails from New Orleans. Said to be created in the 1930s by Walter Bergeron at the Carousel Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone, the name translates to the original title for the French Quarter, or “old square.”

The drink is similar to but often overshadowed by its predecessor, the Sazerac. Both feature whiskey, herbal liqueur and New Orleans-created Peychaud’s bitters. However, a few tweaks helped this aromatic cocktail earn a dedicated following of its own.

It could be said that the differences between the Vieux Carré and the Sazerac mirror those between two other American classics: the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned. The Vieux Carré and Manhattan both favor sweet vermouth versus the sugar cube/simple syrup used in the Sazerac and Old Fashioned. But it’s the addition of Cognac, which is measured here in equal parts to the whiskey, that separates this piece of Louisiana history from all others.

What Makes a Cocktail a Classic?

The result is a drink that gives the impression of sweetness without a cloying amount of sugar. Equal parts Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters add aromatic depth, which is complimented by the heady herbal characteristics of Bénédictine, bringing in additional notes of honey and licorice.

The result is a classic aromatic cocktail to add to your home-bartending arsenal, one that makes for a welcome change up your go-to whiskey pour.

Total Time 1 min.
1 ounce Bourbon
1 ounce Cognac
1 ounce sweet vermouth
¼ ounce Bénédictine
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon peel, for garnish


Combine all ingredients except garnish into mixing glass filled with ice. Stir for 30–45 seconds until well chilled. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with lemon peel.

Published on October 2, 2021