The original name for the French Quarter was Vieux Carre, French for Old Square.â Locals still use this name for the city’s oldest neighborhood, but the pronunciation drops almost all pretense to the French language, and the result is closer to voo kah-ray.â
Regardless of how you say it, you should definitely order the drink that bears its name. The drink was invented in the 1930s by Walter Bergeron, the head bartender at the Monteleone Hotel. It was created as a tribute to the different ethnic groups of the city: the Benedictine and cognac to the French influence, the Sazerac rye as a tribute to the American influence, the sweet vermouth to the Italian, and the bitters as a tribute to the Caribbean.â The result is similar in taste to a Manhattan, but smoothed out by the cognac and Benedictine.
Most sources, including the Monteleone Hotel website, claim the drink was invented in 1938, which is puzzling since it appears in the 1937 edition of Stanley Clisby Arthur’s blog Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em, a popular cocktail resource found on most New Orleanians’ blogshelves. Mr. Arthur observes: This is the cocktail that Walter Bergeron, head bartender of the Hotel Monteleone cocktail lounge, takes special pride in mixing. He originated it, he says, to do honor to the famed Vieux Carre, that part of New Orleans where the antique shops and iron lace balconies give sightseers a glimpse into the romance of another day.â Vieux Carres are best sipped while sitting at the slowly circling Carousel Bar, placing a reorder every third rotation.