The Vieux Carré: Classic New Orleans Elegance

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The Vieux Carré is a classic cocktail that originates from New Orleans, specifically from the 1930s at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone. Named after the French Quarter (Vieux Carré means “Old Square” in French), this cocktail embodies the rich cultural history of New Orleans.

Flavor Profile

The Vieux Carré is known for its complex and balanced flavor, combining the spiciness of rye whiskey, the richness of cognac, the sweetness of vermouth, and the herbal notes of Bénédictine. The bitters add depth and a hint of spice, making it a sophisticated and robust cocktail.

Cultural Significance

This cocktail is a staple in New Orleans and is often enjoyed by those who appreciate classic cocktails with historical roots. Its creation in the 1930s adds to its charm, reflecting a period of elegance and innovation in the cocktail world.

My Take on the Vieux Carré

As usual, I used what I had — bourbon instead of rye, and brandy instead of cognac. I used my go-to bourbon, Bulleit, as it is considered a “high rye” whiskey. It contains a higher proportion of rye in its mash bill compared to most bourbons, which typically use more corn. Bulleit’s mash bill consists of approximately 68% corn, 28% rye, and 4% malted barley. This higher rye content gives Bulleit a distinctive spiciness and robust flavor profile. You’ll find I use Bulleit as the base for most of my recipes on Bourbony.

As for the brandy, it is considered an acceptable substitute for cognac in many cocktail recipes. Cognac is a type of brandy specifically produced in the Cognac region of France under strict regulations, which gives it a distinct flavor profile. However, if you don’t have cognac on hand, as I didn’t, a good quality brandy can serve as a suitable alternative, though the final flavor might vary slightly due to differences in production methods and aging processes. When substituting, it’s best to use a brandy that is smooth and well-aged to maintain the complexity and depth of the original cocktail.

To be honest, I’ve never had a Vieux Carré made in a bar with the “proper” ingredients, so I don’t know how this one compares. If you make this version, and have a means to compare it to the original, please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Vieux Carré

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Difficulty: Easy


Prep time


Total time




  • 1 ounce 1 Bulleit bourbon

  • 1 ounce 1 cognac (I used brandy)

  • 1 ounce 1 sweet vermouth

  • 3/4 ounce 3/4 Benedictine liqueur

  • 3 dashes 3 Peychaud’s barrel aged bitters

  • Garnish: orange rind twist.


  • Add everything to a mixing glass
  • Add several ice cubes
  • Stir until thoroughly chilled
  • Strain into a glass with a large ice cube
  • Garnish with orange rind twist


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Bob Sawyer


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Hi! I’m Bob!

If it’s got bourbon in it, I’m drinking it. And if it’s really good, I’m gonna figure out how to make it, and share it with you. Because I’m good like that.


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