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The Gilroy
Photograph: Filip WolakThe Gilroy

The nine best Vieux Carrés in NYC

No need to go to NOLA for a Vieux Carré. Here’s where to find the best rye-and-cognac cocktail in NYC.

Written by
Meredith Heil
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Standing proud amongst New Orleans original cocktails (like the Sazerac and the French 75) is the Vieux Carré, named after the city’s storied French Quarter. This classic cocktail combines rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine and bitters to form a layered tapestry of flavors almost as charming and intoxicating as the Big Easy itself. Of course, there’s no need to travel all the way to Louisiana to celebrate this beloved Southern tipple—or any of the best cocktails from the Big Easy—just pop into one of the best bars in NYC and make like it's Mardi Gras in NYC at any time of the year with an authentic taste of the boozy bayou.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to cocktails in NYC

The best Vieux Carrés in NYC

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Greenwich Village
From the iconic neon sign to the sleek bar, subway tiles and caricature-lined walls, Minetta is about as old-school New York as it gets. Succulent Moules Frites and world-famous Black Label Burgers are served alongside classic cocktails shaken or stirred to perfection by Minetta’s aproned barkeeps. A refined list of classic cocktails kicks off the revered Greenwich Village tavern’s menu, ending with a Vieux Carré that, with its blend of high-end liquors like Michter’s Rye and Hennessy cognac in addition to the requisite Benedictine, sweet vermouth and bitters, is bound to knock you right off your leather-topped barstool.
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Flatiron
If it’s pure opulence you seek, look no further than the dimly lit, handsomely outfitted NoMad bar’s legendary reserve cocktail list, curated by the swanky hotel’s award-winning bar director Leo Robitschek. On it you’ll find a very special—and very expensive—Vieux Carré made with Thomas H. Handy Sazerac rye whiskey, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Benedictine D.O.M. and L’Artisan du Cognac Grande Champagne aged for no less than 50 years (the real star of the show). Sure, it might run you nearly $200 a pop, but can you really put a price on true glamor?
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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Tribeca
Bâtard might have nabbed a coveted Michelin star for its fine European-influenced cuisine, but take our word that the understated Tribeca eatery’s range of expertly crafted cocktails are equally worthy of such  acclaim. Punny originals (the Inglorious Bâtard and the Ol’ Dirty Bâtard) rub elbows with time-honored relics like sidecars, old-fashioneds and, of course, a slow-sipping Vieux Carré fit for a king. Maison Dudognon cognac and Rittenhouse rye whiskey take the lead here, set off by Antica Formula sweet vermouth, Benedictine and finished with a healthy dash of bitters.
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Williamsburg
It takes a certain kind of drinker to venture off-menu when confronted with a beverage program as exciting as Maison Premiere’s, but those who do so will be rewarded with some of the most exquisite classic cocktails New York City has to offer. With furnishings to match its elegant, old-fashioned approach to cocktail couture, the Williamsburg oyster bar’s Vieux Carré is no exception—smooth cognac and peppery Rittenhouse rye shine through delicate layers of Cinzano vermouth and Benedictine, set off by a lovely dash of floral Peychaud’s bitters.
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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Boerum Hill
A neighborhood oyster joint with a cozy frontier aesthetic, Grand Army’s pedigreed staff has been delighting Boerum Hill’s denizens with professionally mixed cocktails and inspired sharable cuisine since spring 2015. Head bartender Damon Boelte’s twist on the Vieux Carré does justice to the tipple’s Louisiana roots while also paying heed to citified patrons by subbing in the increasingly popular Fernet Branca for sweet vermouth and opting for apple brandy instead of the standard cognac. The result? A dark, sultry sipper worthy of more than a passing glance.
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Village
The folks behind this cavernous East Village neo-speakeasy are plenty passionate about their spirits. The whimsical menu runs the gamut from light and dainty to bold and intense, pairing unique liqueurs with house-made infusions and seasonal fruits for a truly adventurous experience. While you may be tempted to try something shiny and new, Pouring Ribbons’ trusted barkeeps are always happy to whip up the perfect Vieux Carré. Spend a few moments sipping your golden coupe under the warm glow of art deco–inspired lighting and soak in the mesmerizing blend of top-shelf spirits stirred with the utmost charm and affection.
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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Lower East Side
When chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone opened Dirty French at the decidedly hip Ludlow Hotel in 2014, they built a bar program with their clientele's downtown posh sensibilities in mind. Inside, exposed raw wood beams tower over European tourists and Lower East Side foodies as they gossip over plates of lovingly prepared Duck à l’Orange and Côte de Boeuf while sipping an ever-so-delicate array of classic cocktails. As one might expect, the brasserie’s Vieux Carré upholds its elegant French Quarter heritage with a velvety blend of spicy rye and soothing cognac tempered with herbal Benedictine and a splash of Italian sweet vermouth for good measure.
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Upper East Side
While downtown drinkers might balk at the idea of traveling to the far reaches of the Upper East Side for a quality craft cocktail, the Gilroy is determined to prove them wrong. Perched on an inconspicuous 2nd Avenue corner, this quiet, romantic cocktail bar has been upping Yorkville’s date-night game since its early 2014 opening. The beverage program is easily the best in the ‘hood, with a defined list of original and classic-with-a-twist cocktails to satisfy any palate. Of note is the Gilroy’s award-winning Sermon on the Barrel (Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, Suze, Dubonnet Rouge, Benedictine and a hint of wood vinegar), a slow-sipping, swanky Vieux Carré riff that somehow manages to make the standard even more enticing.
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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Kips Bay
At Middle Branch, a proud member of the late Sasha Petraske’s esteemed neo-speakeasy family, beautifully mixed whiskey cocktails drive the drinks menu while exposed brick, candlelight and live jazz supply the ambiance. Pony up to one of the many tables lining this two-tiered Kips Bay cocktail emporium and go off-menu for one of the most gracefully prepared Vieux Carrés this side of the Big Easy. Equal parts smooth, rich and decadent, this potent yet approachable tipple is the perfect introduction to a night of high-class imbibing.

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