The Monte Carlo is a variation of both the classic Manhattan and the Old Fashioned.
Max Seaman is the general manager of The Varnish in Los Angeles describes the history of the Monte Carlo this way:
"There is no cocktail more classic than an Old Fashioned. In fact, when it was created, it was known simply as a ‘cocktail’ — liquor, sugar and bitters, maybe with some ice and a twist if you were wealthy. As the drink became popular it spawned many variations. So, if you walked into a bar in the 19th century and wanted simply liquor, sugar and bitters, you would order an ‘old fashioned cocktail.’
After the repeal of Prohibition, there was a rush to publish and archive the recipes for many of the golden-age drinks. The recipe for a Monte Carlo was published in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Embury in 1948, but the recipe may be older. It is a very simple variation on a rye Old Fashioned with Benedictine liqueur used to sweeten the drink in place of sugar. Benedictine is an amazing herbal liqueur said to have been created by Norman monks; it adds layers of herb and spice to the woody nature of the rye whiskey.”
Our favorite Monte Carlo recipe comes from our favorite source: Liquor.com who suggests opting for a high-proof rye such as Rittenhouse which is what we typically choose for our Monte Carlo cocktails.
Stir for about 30 seconds, until well chilled, and strain into a chilled rocks glass.
Now that you have your cocktail, let’s settle in and listen to some tunes...
All of the songs on this playlist have a south of France kind of feel. To Paul, the drink has a rich taste with the inclusion of the Benedictine. So you want to ease into it which is why we start out with Pink Floyd’s San Tropez.
“As I reach for a peach, slide a rind down behind the sofa in San Tropez.”
Continuing the South of France vibe, we move into Van Morrison’s Goin’ Down to Monte Carlo. It’s a smooth, moody, descriptive tale of escape.
“Playing in the background, some kind of phony pseudo jazz.”
Some might call our next tune “pseudo jazz” but Cortex is a legendary jazz funk group formed in 1974. As we get lost deeper in the south of france, their Troupeau Bleu heightens the mood even more - as it’s performed in French.
Our lists aren’t always literal, sometimes the tunes just evoke the spirit of the drink so next we cross the border into Spain by Return to Forever. Very few tunes can instantly set a mood like this classic. No phony psudo jazz here.
Paul wraps up the entire list with Never Been to Spain by Three Dog Night. I asked him why and he smiled and said “because I’ve never been to Spain.” But then he explained that he always liked the groove of the tune as well as the sentiment.
"While I’ve never been to heaven…but I’ve been to Oklahoma.
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or where you haven’t been, the right cocktail and a great playlist can take you anywhere.
Johanna & Paul
photo credit: Liquor.com