Steal away to the former storage room of the century-old Cole’s for an immaculately crafted Vieux Carré. At the Varnish, overlooked classics like this one are a beloved art. Watch as mustachioed mixologists anguish over the historically precise ingredients of a generations-old recipe—rye whiskey, Bénédictine, Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, sweet vermouth and cognac. But not just any cognac; GM Max Seaman wouldn’t dare use any other brand than Pierre Ferrand’s 1840 Original Formula. Served old-fashioned-style over a crystal-clear cube, this rendition is straight potent. At first sip, it’s like a rush of warm hooch; as the ice melts, complex flavors emerge. This is a drink to enjoy leisurely, so kick back and relax.
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the Vieux Carré cocktail. This dark horse of a New Orleans classic tends to get overshadowed by its older brother, the Sazerac—deemed the city’s official drink in 2008. But who doesn’t love an underdog? Vieux Carré (pronounced “view-ka-ray”) may sound a tad stuffy, but it’s just an OG name for the French Quarter. The intoxicating blend of high-proof rye, cognac and sweet vermouth, brightened up with bitters and a dash of Bénédictine, is a kissing cousin to the Manhattan—if said cousin lived in Louisiana and loved to have a good time. Fortunately, modern bartenders really dig the Vieux Carré, especially in Los Angeles (the other LA). That’s the beauty of a cult classic. Here you’ll find the best the City of Angels has to offer.
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