Vieux Carré Cocktail

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  • My Rating: B- (an enjoyable sipper)

A couple of days ago a friend asked me where she could find a bottle of Peychaud’s Bitters. Sure enough I found a place that sold it but minutes later another request for Bénédictine Liqueur popped up. In a rare flash of brilliance + with the help of those Google-targeted ads I discovered that a certain someone had a craving for the 1930s Vieux Carré cocktail (meaning “old square”, named for the French Quarter in New Orleans). Since I hadn’t made one before I thought I would give one a go; Thus, my attempt at a much beloved classic invented by the head bartender of The Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans, Walter Bergeron. Here is an great article written by Brian Quinn at foodrepublic.com, where he explains that this is a sipping cocktail, made with the build techinique. Rushing into it as usual, I made mine incorrectly using a Boston shaker. Below are my proportions:

  • 30ml Ri rye whiskey
  • 30ml Cizano Rosso sweet vermouth
  • 30ml Hennessy Black cognac
  • 5ml Bénédictine DOM liqueur
  • 2 dashes Pechaud’s bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • garnish with lemon slice + cherry

Reaction: This is quite similar to a Manhattan, but I like this much, much more. Firstly it’s more palatable and there’s a nice balanced complexity that is present here, especially after 15 minutes where the ingredients have the time to meld together. Initially I get the rye grain + Bénédictine sweetness, and then comes the cognac vanilla + oak, and finally the vermouth spices and bitter herbals at the finish.

Final notes: I agree 100% with Mr. Quinn that this is a sipper, and a superbly enjoyable one at that. The first sip has the boldest caramel flavours, and as time goes on the sweetness and spices take the driver’s seat. One negative aspect of this drink is having to acquire 6 ingredients + a lemon and cherry. But IMO, this one is worth the effort to make.

 

Saint Vivant VSOP Armagnac (France)

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  • My Rating: C-

Saint Vivant VSOP Armagnac, 40% ABV, 750ml, (Condom, Gers, France)

Some things I learned about Armagnac via the internets:

  • 1x distilled, traditionally to 52% ABV and then Monlezun Black Oak barrel aged for years. Typically not diluted with water. (VS Cognac which is 2x distilled)
  • VS = 2 years, VSOP = 5 years, XO/Napoleon = 6 years, Hors d’Age = 10+ years
  • Nosing should be done progressively from chest height, chin, lips, and finally nose. Allow time for alcohol to evaporate because initial nosing can be harsh
  • ditch the brandy snifter for this “rounded belly and tapered chimney” glass

Armagnac Glassware

  • Style: (VSOP) Armagnac
  • Taste Profile: sweet caramel -> vanilla/oak/licorice -> plum/grape
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $60 – 750ml, sometime in 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to brandy aficionados: no

Visual: Unique shaped bottle with a dimple allows for an ergonomic grip (A+). Pours light-medium (5)-dark brown.

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Nose: (after 20 minutes) direct inhalation is still extremely harsh. (Lip-height) vanilla, oak, caramel.

  • Nosing = D+

Attack: sweet, sweet caramel, (9)-nasal burn as you sip

Mid-palate: (MAIN) (8)-vanilla, (5)-oak, (8)-licorice

Finish: (3)-plum/raisin, (4)-concord grape

  • Flavour = C+

Summary: Nosing is way too harsh. Flavours are decent but you must have patience with this one. Body is underwhelming. Unbalanced (licorice and alcohol overbearing). Overall not recommended; Spend more money on a higher quality Armagnac. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

D’eaubonne VSOP (French brandy bottled in Canada)

D’eaubonne VSOP, 40% ABV – 375ml, (bottled in Toronto, ON, Canada)

on the front label:

“A Fine Blend of Imported French V.S.O.P. and Napoleon Brandies.”

  • Style: VSOP French Brandy (5+ years)
  • My Rating: C-
  • Taste Profile: High alcohol/numbness -> caramel/banana/wood -> rough alcohol/warmth
  • Where I got it: BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $12, 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to brandy aficionados: no way

Tasting notes: pours on the watery side for brandy, light orange. Massive amounts of alcohol and nasal burn on the nose, with caramel. Drinks with high tingliness and anticipation of nasal burn, numbness, and alcohol up front, background is highly numbing, minty, caramel, 7/10-sweetness, banana, medium warmth, and quite a rough alcoholic finish. Medium complexity, medium depth, not good transitions, okay carry, borderline drinkability. Flavour is there but the jaggedness makes it hard to sip.