• Happy Hour - The Vieux Carre with Rob Fazey of Sidecar, Cremorne

by Jack Baxter

Continuing our series on classic cocktails for the modern gent; this week we look at the Vieux Carre and have a chat with Rob Fazey of Sidecar, Cremorne. 

The Vieux Carre (pronounced voo-ka-ray), like it’s famous and well-regarded contemporaries The Sazerac and the Old-Fashioned, originated down in New Orleans during the golden age of the cocktail in the 1930s. This is a punchy cocktail and the archetypal ‘man’s drink’. It is perhaps best described as a very smooth but complex take on a sweet Manhattan, served on the rocks. Much like the place from where it comes from it is a fun and potent blend of diverse elements.

"Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry. Enjoy!"

The Vieux Carre was the signature cocktail of the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans. It was created in 1938 by head bartender Walter Bergeron. It’s name literally translates as ‘The Old Square’ and is named for The French Quarter where the hotel was located. The Carousel Bar is so named as it is actually constructed from an old carousel and seats 25 on it’s slowly revolving stage. 

The Recipe:
• 1 part Rye Whisky
• 1 part Cognac
• 1 part Sweet Vermouth
• 1 quarter measure Benedictine Liqueur
• Dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters 
• Dash Peychaud’s Aromatic Bitters

    The Method:
    • Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice, stir together well.
    • Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice.
    • Garnish with a cherry.
    • Enjoy!

    Now to get an expert’s take on this most sophisticated of beverages we speak to Rob Fazey, owner and boss man at Cremorne’s newest, hippest cocktail bar; Sidecar.

    Hey Rob, thanks for speaking to us at W&S. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to open Sidecar?

    “I’ve been in hospo for as long as I can remember. As a kid my mum owned a few cafes and small restaurants so I basically grew up around it. The old man loved his boutique beers and sports so I spent many a night sat on a bar stool with a nice cool glass of juice. It kind of just ran from there- at the end of high school I wanted to work in kitchens so started off in a some pretty nice seafood and steak joints until at 18 I started working at a pizza bar.

    "...it's gotten me through uni, overseas trips, meeting some absolute legends and now owning my own cafes & bars."

    They were short staffed one night, I was pulled on to work the bar and that's where it began. I love the fact hospo is so versatile in that sense, it's gotten me through uni, overseas trips, meeting some absolute legends and now owning my own cafes & bars.”

    What’s the vibe in Sidecar?

    “Sidecar is a refined dive bar with a prohibition twist, an ode to alcohol and forgotten cocktails. We specialise in service and knowledge, and have an ever changing cocktail list with a monthly focus on certain spirits or brands plus the ability to create a drink just for you. We also have a beautiful selection of wines, mainly Australian, coming from young, passionate wind makers. Spirits on the back bar you don't normally see or with a great story behind them and bar snacks to knock your socks off.

    Our idea is to educate people on where alcohol came from and some of the things that may have been forgotten. Maybe even to steer customers down a road to tasting something they never have before. We run monthly appreciation nights and Q&As with either producers or brand ambassadors too.”

    Sidecar, Cremorne, Sydney

    Why did you decide to open in the North Shore?

    “Why Cremorne? I asked myself that in the first few weeks! It's just from looking at trends in Sydney. The suburban bar scene is exploding in the West and East and has started in the North. There isn't much yet on this side of the bridge but the ones that are here like Foxtrot, The Botanist etc. are very, very good.

    Plus the area is under going some huge redevelopment right on our back door and bringing in a lot of younger professionals. There are a huge amount of creatives in this area who have to travel to either Manly or the city to express themselves, wether it be artists, fashion designers or musicians. I wanted to create a hub they can go to network and display their talents.”

    "It packs in a lot of booze and is one of those forgotten greats from a time when cocktails were cocktails and men were gentlemen.”

    Why the Vieux Carre?

    “Because it's an amazing complex and well balanced drink... it can also be an introduction for someone who is a bit shy of Cognac or Bourbon. It's easy drinking but you taste everything in there, it packs in a lot of booze and is one of those forgotten greats from a time when cocktails were cocktails and men were gentlemen.”

    Sidecar, Cremorne, Sydney

    When you aren’t smashing Vieux Carres what’s your drink of choice?

    “Depends on where I am and what I’m doing. I like alcohol for what it is and how it's been created. I love everything from Jack Daniels to some of the rarest Scotch around and now Sydney has stepped up it’s game in having speciality bars, breweries, distillers and pubs where you can be in a place that does one thing and they do it bloody well. Places like Lobo Plantation, Archie Rose distillery, Wild Rover, Baxter’s Inn, Bulletin Place, Young Henrys and Four Pines Brewery.

    We were so far behind Melbourne and the rest of the world but now we are a front runner and creating some amazing experiences and bars that will be the Savoys, PDT's, Carousels, Ritz's & Connaught's bars of the future.”

    Rob’s perfect serve for the Vieux Carre:

    • 30ml Hudson Baby Bourbon 
    • 30ml Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
    • 30ml Antica Formula 
    • 8ml Benedictine D.O.M. Liqueur 
    • Dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters
    • Dash Pechauds Aromatic Bitter

    “Build and stir over triple frozen ice, strain into a double rocks glass with over sized cubes and garnish with lemon zest. That's the current favourite but I love experimenting with different bourbons especially.” 

    Thanks for your input Rob, much appreciated, we’ll be in for a tipple next time we’re en route to Manly!

    Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming editions of Happy Hour, or if you're a fan of convenience, sign up to our mailing list below to get all this sort of jazz in your inbox.

    And don't forget to let us know what you think of the Vieux Carre in the comments section below!

    Till next time, this is Mr. Jack Baxter signing off.

    Mr. Jack.

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    Jack Baxter
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