Jonathan Forester is a brewer and distiller in Maine. He writes about spirits and cocktails at Slashfood.
So I’m guilty of impaired riding. Carousel riding that is. Like many fans of the Cocktail, I’m down in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail for the next week and having a blast. Within a few minutes of getting to my hotel in the French Quarter, the Hotel Monteleone, I was sitting on a carousel and bellied up to the bar all at the same time. The famous carousel bar in the hotel turns at a leisurely four times per hour, which is negligible at first, but seems to speed up as the drinks slide down. I ordered one of my favorite cocktails, a Vieux Carré, which was invented here by Walter Bergeron in 1938, and sat back to enjoy the ride. Every now and then a friend would stop by for a chat, having to do a side step shuffle every few moments to keep up with the stately procession of the Carousel. I came to call this the Vieux Carré Strut, and soon it became one of the most popular dances at Tales.
Vieux Carré is another name for the French Quarter, meaning “The Old Square,” and this fabulous drink fits right in, no wonder Bergeron called it such. The decor in the Carousel Bar is a mix of a fine lounge and antique amusement park, with an elegant feel. That is until the whole crew descended upon the establishment. Then it became more like a cross between the Midway, and the Fun House. Now if only they had the carousel horses like in Mary Poppins. I can imagine my fine friends from Tales gallumphing off the Carousel and taking a turn ’round the Monteleone, refreshing themselves along the way as we stop hither and yon for fine cocktails. Then after making our way through all the laudatory libations, a few circuits of the Queen Anne Ballroom to the tune of a waltz, zig zagging among the masked dancers; before heading out onto the streets of Vieux Carré showing the world how to do Tales in style.
Just to refresh your memory… Vieux Carré.
The Vieux Carré Cocktail
1/2 oz rye whiskey
1/2 oz cognac
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 tsp Benedictine
dash Peychaud bitters
dash Angostura bitters
Stir well with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist, and enjoy!