Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! Let the good times roll with this rye whiskey classic recipe, featuring a 12-year, small-batch rye from a Northern Michigan distillery.

For many, Fat Tuesday is the final day of feasting before the Lenten season of fasting. In this house, it’s a fast-free excuse for Hamtramck Pączki from Market 22, a platter of jambalaya and one of my favorite cocktails of all time—the Vieux Carré (pronounced voo ka-RAY).

While I was first turned on to this classic by nationally acclaimed barman Sean Kenyon in Colorado, the tipple originally hails from New Orleans. Vieux Carré means “old square” in French and refers to the French Quarter where the drink was first served in the late 1930s at Hotel Monteleone, famous today for its circus-like Carousel Bar. One of the most superbly balanced whiskey cocktails I know, the beguiling sipper is made with equal parts rye, Cognac and sweet vermouth, with a few dashes of bitters and a bar spoon of Bénédictine—a 16th-century herbal liqueur my husband and I keep on hand specifically for this drink.

Here on the Fresh Coast, try making your Vieux Carré with the Mammoth Distilling 12-year, small-batch rye. As one of the Central Lake distillery’s older expressions, this rye is “robust enough to stand up to the other elements in the drink without losing character,” says Head Distiller Collin Gaudard, who lived in the Big Easy for a few years. Even if you miss the boat on Fat Tuesday, a Vieux Carré tastes great deep into a Michigan spring … as long as you didn’t give up Bénédictine for Lent.

Related Read: Searching for more monthly featured recipes? View our Last Call cocktail page.

Vieux Carré Cocktail Recipe Serves 1

  • 3⁄4 ounce Mammoth 12-Year Small Batch Rye
  • 3⁄4 ounce Cognac
  • 3⁄4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • bar spoon of Bénédictine
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • Michigan cocktail cherry
Into a mixing glass or mason jar filled with ice cubes, add rye, Cognac, vermouth and Bénédictine and stir until chilled. Place a single rock of ice in an old-fashioned glass and strain the rye mixture as you pour it into the glass over the cube. Top with dashes of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters and garnish with a cherry.

Photo by Dave Weidner

Stacey Brugeman is a Leelanau County-based food and beverage writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, Eater and Denver’s 5280, where she served as Restaurant Critic. Follow her on Instagram @staceybrugeman.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner