What’s Aging Next: Vieux Carré

I bottled my barrel aged Manhattans so that I can move on to aging the next thing: Vieux Carré. It is a classic New Orleans cocktail named after the French name for the Old Square (the French Quarter.)

At its core, the Vieux Carré is a Manhattan variation. The addition of cognac makes it slighly sweeter with a deeper caramel and oak flavor. Two different varieties of bitters and the herbal Benedictine cut the sweetness of the cognac and vermouth to give it dimension. If you use a high proof rye, this is a boozy cocktail that you’ll want to sip.

I had a three week aged Vieux Carre at Harper’s in Dobbs Ferry last winter and loved it. The individual components seem to take on aging well, so I think it will be a great follow-up to the Manhattans I did earlier in the year.

Here is the recipe for a single drink:

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Here is how I’m scaling it for my barrel and what I’m using:

  • 1 bottle (25.36 oz) of Rittenhouse Rye. This is my favorite rye. It is pretty strong at 100 proof.
  • 1 bottle (25.36 oz) of Carpano Antica sweet vermouth. None better!
  • 1 bottle (25.36 oz) of Darvelle Freres VSOP. This is a mid-range French brandy with lots of caramel and spice aromas. Great for mixing.
  • 3 oz of Benedictine

Just like with the Manhattan, I’m not adding the bitters directly to the barrel. I’ll put them in the mixing glass with the ice and then pour in the liquor from the tap.

I plan on aging this for two months. While I’m patiently waiting for it to age, I’ll probably make another batch of maraschino cherries, with a more syrupy liquid this time so that they are closer to Luxardo cherries. I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

Aged Negronis at Home

This weekend I had one of the best drinks I’ve made in months. It takes a little bit of patience, but it is totally worth it.

I bought some charred oak staves from Tuthilltown when we were up there two weeks ago and promptly put one to work aging a Negroni.

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I mixed up 8oz of Plymouth gin, 8oz of Campari, and 8oz of Carpano Antica, my favorite sweet vermouth, and poured it all into a bottle. I tossed one of the staves and put it in the cabinet.  I left my typical addition of orange bitters out because tincture bitters don’t scale as easily as other liquors. Instead, I add a few dashes directly to each glass before serving.

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Every 2-3 days I got the bottle out and inverted it a few times to mix it up. It got slightly darker of the course of two weeks, but not a ton. After about a week, the stave got saturated and sunk to the bottom.

I tested out the taste after two weeks with a friend who came to visit and I was very pleased. The bitterness of the Campari was rounded out a bit by the caramel/oak/vanilla flavors and the carbon took the edge off the alcohol.

As usual, I served it in a Mazama Negroni glass with clear ice from the Studio Neat Ice Kit, added 2 dashes of orange bitters, and garnished with an orange peel.

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I have two more of the small charred staves to use, but I’m thinking of buying a few toasted and raw staves from Add Oak to experiment with. I’ll cut them down to size here at home and add varying levels of char.

Update September 30, 2016 – Reporting back on 4 weeks of aging: The sharp points in the drink continued to mellow out and the drink picked up some slight caramel and smoke flavors. Pretty good, but not radically better than 2 weeks, so if the time tradeoff is a concern, drink it any time after 2 weeks.