GrandArmyVX
Brooklyn’s Grand Army substitutes apple brandy for cognac and uses Fernet Branca in its take on the Vieux Carré.

New Orleans has a knack for supporting the great things of this world — everything from jazz and cocktails to, of course, beignets. Though many know the Sazerac and some the Ramos Gin Fizz, yet another New Orleans classic that is often overlooked is the sturdy and complex Vieux Carré or “old square.” A cousin of the Manhattan, this drink blends rye, cognac and sweet vermouth, along with its key additions of Benedictine, Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters.

At Grand Army in Brooklyn, barman Damon Boelte brings his own twist to the classic, with a hat tip to the Northeast bar world. Naturally, this means Fernet Branca, but also an apple brandy over cognac. The resulting City of New Orleans riff is noticeably darker, less sweet and equally as inviting as the original. A perfect spirit-forward sipper.

Balance is critical with this cocktail, as there are many ingredients to juggle and let shine through. Perhaps the most delicate selection is the vermouth, which could easily overpower the other flavors; for instance, using a meatier Carpano Antica over Boelte’s choice of Dolin Rouge, in this case. It’s a matter of preference, but either way, this drink should be at the top of the list for any Manhattan or old-fashioned fan. Enjoy.

Vieux Carré Cocktail

Servings: 1 cocktail

Ingredients
1 ounce rye
1 ounce cognac
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
Benedictine Rinse

Directions:
  1. Combine ingredients in a chilled mixing glass and stir with ice for 10 seconds.
  2. Strain over ice in a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and brandied cherry.

City of New Orleans Cocktail

Servings: 1 cocktail

Ingredients
3/4 ounce Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
3/4 ounce Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 ounce Dolin Rouge Vermouth
1/2 teaspoon Benedictine
1/2 teaspoon Fernet Branca
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a chilled mixing glass and stir with ice for 10 seconds.
  2. Strain over ice in a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Prep time: 3 minutes
Difficulty: Easy