New Orleans is a generous city. Its hospitality extends far beyond Bourbon Street and beignets to a host of classic cocktails, including city favorites turned global sensations like the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz. One drink, however, doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
The A La Louisiane (sometimes called De La Louisiane) is the former house drink of historic New Orleans’ restaurant La Louisiane, which was built in 1881. The cocktail is a variation on the Vieux Carré, a heady mix of rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine and bitters. This variation intensifies the rye, skips the cognac and calls for a few dashes of absinthe, producing a drink that is familiar but unique.
The cocktail first appeared in “Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’Em,” a 1937 book by Stanley Clisby Arthur. Like many drinks of the era, it all but disappeared through the decades, but it regained a foothold after appearing in “The PDT Cocktail Book” by Jim Meehan, a 2011 tome that detailed recipes from the popular New York speakeasy-style bar. Though the A La Louisiane has not reached the heights of its whiskey-laced cousins like the Sazerac or Vieux Carré, it’s once again being made in select bars inside and outside of New Orleans.
The drink begins with rye whiskey and sweet vermouth, a friendly duo that should appeal to Manhattan drinkers. From there, the herbal flavors can be punched up or scaled back depending on the amount of Bénédictine, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe you use, but this recipe points you in the right direction.
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1/2 ounce Bénédictine
- 3 dashes absinthe
- 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- Garnish: maraschino cherry
Add the rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish with a skewered maraschino cherry.