Vieux Carré Cocktail

Vieux carre cocktail recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
304 Calories
3g Fat
19g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 304
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 9mg 3%
Sodium 145mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 22mg 2%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 98mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Vieux Carré (pronounced in the Cajun and Creole style "vyur kaa ray") is a classic cocktail straight from 1930s New Orleans. It is a complex and fascinating drink that is as popular today as it was when it was first created.

This cocktail is a short, slow sipper that begins with equal parts of rye whiskey, cognac, and sweet vermouth. Not one, but two bitters are used and there is a hint of a classic herbal liqueur to give it even more dimension. The Vieux Carré is a slightly sweet, spiced, and warming drink with herbal, citrus, and smoky notes. It's similar to a Manhattan but more complex thanks to the cognac, Bénédictine, and two kinds of bitters. It is a truly great cocktail and one of the signature drinks of New Orleans.

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"If you love a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, the Vieux Carré is the next drink to add to your rotation. Essentially a Manhattan with a few additions that make it something entirely its own. There are several ingredients to collect, which make this a tougher drink to execute, but the effort is well worth it." —Tom Macy

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Ingredients

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for vieux carre cocktail
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. Combine the rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, bitters, and Bénédictine in a mixing glass filled with ice.

    Ingredients in a mixing glass with ice
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. Stir well.

    Stirring the mixture with a spoon
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice.

    Cocktail in a glass with ice
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Garnish with a cherry or lemon twist.

    Glass garnished with cherry
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  6. Serve and enjoy.

    vieux carre cocktail with cherries
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

The History of the Vieux Carré Cocktail

Walter Bergeron created the Vieux Carré at New Orleans' Hotel Monteleone in the 1930s, naming it after the French phrase meaning "old square" which referred to the French Quarter. The drink remains a specialty of the establishment and sipping one at the Monteleone's spinning Carousel Bar is a memorable experience.


The recipe was first printed in the 1937 edition of "Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em" and it was a big hit in its first years. Though it has never been forgotten, the cocktail did fall out of favor for a number of decades and went into relative obscurity. All of that changed during the recent resurgence of interest in classic cocktails and the revitalization of great rye whiskey. With the skills of bartenders and the availability of fine ingredients, the Vieux Carré is once again on every cocktail enthusiast's list of truly great drinks.

Choosing a Rye Whiskey

Though the rye whiskey and cognac are equal pours in the Vieux Carré, the rye takes center stage. Its naturally spicy flavor profile brings it to the forefront of this drink and that's why it's important to choose a great rye. The market for rye whiskey continues to expand and this recipe is a perfect place to explore any new bottle you come across. Many of the best rye whiskeys are coming from small craft brewers so look around for bottles that may not get national attention. There are some hidden gems out there.

How Strong Is the Vieux Carré?

Most rye whiskey is bottled above the standard 80-proof. This higher strength allows those spicy rye notes to really stand out and adds to the depth of the whiskey. It also makes rye a perfect option for any whiskey cocktail. With that noted, the Vieux Carré's estimated alcohol content using a full-flavored, 100-proof rye whiskey along with a mild 80-proof cognac is about 29 percent ABV (58 proof), one of the strongest cocktails you can mix up. While it is potent, it's also full of flavor and that is why the original recipe makes just under a 3-ounce drink. Go slow with this one as it is very easy to have one too many.