The beginning of every New Year encourages us to make promises for personal improvements, while looking at the past to remind us of people and times gone by.

That second part is never a problem in New Orleans.

Oh, how we love our history and culture. We revel almost daily in stories about the French of the early 1700s, the Spanish of the late 1700s, Andrew Jackson and even the plans for Napoleon’s never-to-be idyllic retirement at the corner of Chartres and St. Louis streets.

We well “remember” the three St. Charles Hotels (the first one opened in 1837 and the last one closed in 1974). When the Natchez was rammed by a freighter and almost went down at her dock (’83) and the Cabildo caught fire (’88), we were inconsolable. We speak of all of these things – and Betsy (’65) and Katrina (2005) – as if they occurred last week.

No, auld acquaintances will never be forgotten in this place.

The precious memories include our cuisine and our beverages. The auld is ordered every day, with the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz, two cocktails from the century before the last one, leading the hit parade. Then there’s the Vieux Carré, a classic cocktail invented in the 1930s by bartender Walter Bergeron in the Carousel Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone.

We all know the legendary watering hole is still the very best place to enjoy the drink named after the original New Orleans neighborhood.

Vieux Carré Cocktail

1/2 ounce Benedictine
1/2 ounce cognac
1/2 ounce Sazerac Rye Whiskey
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
2-3 drops Angostura Bitters
2-3 drops Peychauds Bitters

Build in a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir briefly with a cocktail stirrer and garnish with a lemon twist.

As created and served at The Carousel Lounge, Hotel Monteleone