Wednesday, October 21, 2009


On one of our trips to Dutch Kills, we challenged our bartender to come up with something good for us. We're too good to order off the menu. And when I say "good," I mean "obnoxious." What he came up with was a vieux carre, a drink originating in New Orleans involving Rye, Brandy, Sweet Vermouth, Bitters, and a "Benedictine rinse" as our server put it--which means the glass was coated in it before the rest was put in. It was served in a highball glass and, as a side note, it had a single giant ice cube in it that was about as big as the glass. I was highly amused by it. I would love to make ice cubes like that but there's not enough room in my freezer. Heather keeps cluttering it with baggies of chicken stock.
I really liked the cocktail. It was exactly what I needed: fairly sweet but not sugary, thick, acceptably boozy, and calming. It had a nice syrupy texture to it which no doubt came from the brandy. I kept the cocktail in the back of my head for a while as I lived my life. I owned pretty much all the ingredients save one--Benedictine. I didn't know much about it so I did a little research. It's a sweet aromatic liqueur that dates back to the early 1500s.
One of the main selling points for me is that it shares its name with a religious order--the Benedictine Monks. I like the idea of a religious sounding liqueur. It gives the impression that booze is handed down from God. It's a little ironic though that many things that liquor inspires are associated with Satan--bar fights, promiscuous sex and public urination to name a few. I did some preliminary price comparison shopping in New York and learned that a small 375 ml bottle will run you about twenty bucks. I thought I might be able to do better in Pennsylvania until I learned that the state store doesn't even carry it. I guess that's what you get when the government oversees your liquor supply.
When I got back to New York, I was feeling saucy and purchased a bottle. I got it home and Heather and I took a little taste from a shot glass. When Heather brought it to her nose she reeled back with surprise. When they say aromatic they mean aromatic. It has a taste that vaguely reminded me of cough syrup. Not in a nasty, stale jagermeister way but in a classy medicinal way. To put it another way, it was like something you would expect to find an an old apothecary and not in an expired bottle above your bathroom sink. I then proceeded to make a vieux carre of my own. The recipe I had read as follows:
  • 1 ounce rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce Cognac
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon Bénédictine D.O.M.
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Mix all ingredients in a double Old Fashioned glass over ice; stir.

I didn't have Peychaud's bitters so I left it out and just used angostura bitters. Baby steps people. Only one liquor adventure at a time. I garnished with I cherry and a lemon twist--a style I stole from the good folks at Dutch Kills. It was a good cocktail and I think the Benedictine really added to the flavor profile. I'm all about little things that give a cocktail a little extra flourish. Will the drink still be good without Benedictine? Probably. All the other stuff in it is good. But like a chemist, I like to see how one element reacts with another. I will be playing with this drink in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment