In a city as cocktail-savvy as San Francisco, it's pretty hard to have a bad drink. I trust the bartenders here so much that in my mid-20s, I upgraded my standard gin, tonic, and two-lime order to a tried-and-true bourbon cocktail, the classic old-fashioned.
It's been more than a few years (let's just say I'm no longer in my mid-20s), and recently, I got to thinking I was ready for yet another upgrade. My encounter with the new cocktail in my life couldn't have come sooner. I first tried the Vieux Carré over a drink-filled dinner at San Francisco's very solid Range restaurant; several rounds later, I declared it my go-to drink.
See the recipe for my new favorite cocktail when you keep reading.
If you've never had a Vieux Carré, think of it as a Manhattan's smoother older brother: like its New York doppelganger, it has rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters, but other bells and whistles (the addition of Cognac, a bar spoon of Bénédictine, a dash of Peychaud's bitters) make it less rough around the edges.
That epiphany at Range didn't take place too long ago, but since then, I've already tried the Vieux Carré in various spots across the city. It's wonderful in every rendition — that's the mark of a solid cocktail! — and while I've had it served straight up in a cocktail glass, my favorite way to enjoy it is in a lowball glass with a single, giant ice cube. The ice melts slowly, allowing one to linger over each glass and savor the drink's underlying complexity.
What's your signature drink?
- 3/4 ounce rye whiskey
- 3/4 ounce Cognac
- 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1/16 ounce Bénédictine
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 dash Peychaud's bitters
- Lemon peel, for garnish
- Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add the whiskey, Cognac, vermouth, Bénédictine, and both bitters. Stir until chilled.
- Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with the lemon peel and serve.
Makes 1 drink.