Monte Carlo


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Introduction to the Monte Carlo Cocktail

The Monte Carlo is a cocktail that exudes elegance and simplicity. With its rich blend of rye whiskey and the herbal sweetness of Benedictine, this drink is a testament to classic mixology. It’s perfect for those who appreciate a cocktail with depth and history.

Originating from the mid-20th century, the Monte Carlo has stood the test of time. It’s a variation of the Manhattan, offering a unique twist with its use of Benedictine. This cocktail is ideal for sipping slowly, allowing the imbiber to savor its complex flavors.

Whether you’re hosting a formal event or enjoying a quiet night in, the Monte Carlo is a sophisticated choice. Its simplicity in preparation belies the intricate taste that awaits. Let’s delve into the world of this storied cocktail.

Key Facts About the Monte Carlo

  • Alcohol Volume: Approximately 28% ABV
  • Calories: Roughly 164 kcal per serving
  • Glass Type: Traditionally served in a chilled cocktail glass
  • Garnish: Lemon peel (optional but recommended)

Interesting Facts about the Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo is often enjoyed as a digestif, aiding in digestion after a meal. Its herbal notes from the Benedictine are key to this quality. Additionally, the cocktail’s name evokes the luxury and opulence of its namesake, the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco.

Despite its simplicity, the Monte Carlo offers a complex flavor profile that can be adjusted with different rye whiskey expressions. This versatility makes it a favorite among connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike.

Monte Carlo Cocktail

Tasting Notes on the Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo is a harmonious blend of spicy, sweet, and bitter notes. The rye whiskey provides a robust base with hints of pepper and fruit, while the Benedictine adds a honeyed sweetness with a touch of herbal complexity.

Angostura bitters bring a subtle spice and depth, rounding out the cocktail’s profile. This drink is well-suited for those who enjoy a whiskey-forward cocktail with an herbal twist. It’s perfect for after-dinner relaxation or as a sophisticated nightcap.

The Monte Carlo shines in settings that call for a touch of class. Whether it’s a black-tie event or a quiet evening by the fireplace, this cocktail fits seamlessly, offering a refined drinking experience.

History of the Monte Carlo

The origins of the Monte Carlo cocktail are somewhat murky, but it’s believed to have emerged in the mid-20th century. It shares a lineage with the Manhattan, one of the most iconic cocktails in history.

The substitution of Benedictine for vermouth is what sets the Monte Carlo apart. This change not only alters the flavor profile but also the cocktail’s character, giving it a distinct identity within the pantheon of classic drinks.

Over the years, the Monte Carlo has maintained a low profile compared to its more famous cousins. However, its understated elegance has kept it a favorite among those in the know. It’s a cocktail that speaks to the connoisseur’s palate, offering a rich tapestry of flavors to explore.

Monte Carlo Ingredients

  • Rye Whiskey (2 oz / 60ml): The backbone of the cocktail, providing a spicy and fruity base.
  • Benedictine (1/2 oz / 15ml): Adds a honeyed sweetness with herbal undertones, contributing to the drink’s complexity.
  • Angostura Bitters (2 dashes): Offers a layer of spice and helps balance the sweetness of the Benedictine.
  • Ice: Chills the drink, diluting it slightly to meld the flavors together.
  • Lemon Peel: An optional garnish that adds a citrus aroma and a touch of elegance.

Did you know?

The Monte Carlo’s use of Benedictine, an herbal liqueur with a recipe dating back to the 16th century, adds a layer of historical intrigue to each sip.

Preparing Monte Carlo Cocktail

Monte Carlo Method

The preparation of the Monte Carlo is straightforward yet requires attention to detail. Begin by combining the rye whiskey, Benedictine, and Angostura bitters in a mixing glass.

Fill the glass with ice and stir the mixture until well chilled. This step is crucial for achieving the right temperature and dilution.

Strain the chilled cocktail into a cocktail glass. If using a lemon peel for garnish, express its oils over the drink and add it to the glass. Serve immediately to enjoy the Monte Carlo at its best.

Serving Suggestion for the Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo is traditionally served in a chilled cocktail glass. The wide brim allows the aromas to reach the nose, enhancing the drinking experience.

If opting for a garnish, prepare a lemon peel by cutting a thin strip from the fruit. Twist it over the drink to release the essential oils, then run the peel around the rim of the glass before dropping it in.

Elevating the Monte Carlo

  • Choose a High-Quality Rye: The choice of rye whiskey can greatly influence the cocktail’s flavor. Opt for a high-quality, aged rye to add depth.
  • Stir to Perfection: Stirring for the right amount of time ensures proper chilling and dilution, which is key to a balanced Monte Carlo.
  • Experiment with Bitters: While Angostura bitters are traditional, experimenting with other bitters can introduce new flavor notes.

For an extra touch of sophistication, chill the cocktail glass beforehand. This keeps the drink colder for longer, allowing for a leisurely sipping experience.

Monte Carlo Cocktail Served

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Monte Carlo

If rye whiskey is not available, bourbon can be a suitable substitute, though it will alter the flavor profile with its sweeter notes.

For those who find Benedictine too sweet, a drier herbal liqueur like Chartreuse could be used in moderation. Remember, the goal is to maintain the balance of flavors.

Similar cocktails include the Manhattan and the Bobby Burns. These share a whiskey base and herbal elements, offering a comparable taste experience.

Add a Twist to the Monte Carlo

For a modern take, consider infusing the rye whiskey with additional flavors such as vanilla or cinnamon. This can add a new dimension to the cocktail.

Another variation involves using a smoked glass to introduce a subtle smoky aroma, enhancing the cocktail’s complexity.

Adding a dash of orange bitters alongside the Angostura can introduce a citrusy note, complementing the lemon peel garnish.

Preferred Liquors for the Monte Carlo

When crafting a Monte Carlo, the choice of rye whiskey is paramount. Brands like Rittenhouse, Sazerac, and WhistlePig offer robust flavors that stand up well in the cocktail.

Benedictine is a unique liqueur with no true substitute, so using the original is recommended to achieve the authentic Monte Carlo taste.

For bitters, Angostura is the classic choice, but feel free to explore others like Peychaud’s for a slightly different flavor profile.

Similar Cocktails to the Monte Carlo

If you enjoy the Monte Carlo, you might also like the Manhattan, with its use of sweet vermouth instead of Benedictine. The Old Fashioned is another whiskey-based classic that offers a simple yet satisfying taste.

The Sazerac shares the herbal notes through its use of absinthe, providing a similar complexity to the Monte Carlo.

For a lighter option, the Whiskey Sour offers a citrusy counterpoint to the Monte Carlo’s herbal sweetness.

Food Pairings to go with the Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo pairs well with rich, savory appetizers like charcuterie or cheese plates. The cocktail’s robust flavors can stand up to strong-tasting foods.

For a unique pairing, try dark chocolate or nut-based desserts. The sweetness and bitterness of the chocolate complement the herbal notes of the cocktail.

Monte Carlo FAQs

Can I use bourbon instead of rye? Yes, bourbon can be used, but it will make the drink sweeter and less spicy than with rye.

Is there a non-alcoholic version of the Monte Carlo? While there’s no direct non-alcoholic substitute for rye or Benedictine, experimenting with herbal teas and non-alcoholic bitters can create a similar flavor profile.

How important is the garnish? The lemon peel garnish adds a fresh aroma and should not be overlooked. It enhances the overall sensory experience of the cocktail.

Monte Carlo_001

Monte Carlo

A classic cocktail with a smooth blend of rye whiskey and the sweet, herbal notes of Benedictine, the Monte Carlo is a simple yet sophisticated drink that's perfect for a quiet evening or a formal gathering.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 164 kcal


  • Mixing glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Strainer
  • Cocktail glass


  • 2 oz Rye whiskey 60ml
  • 1/2 oz Benedictine 15ml
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel for garnish optional


  • In a mixing glass, combine the rye whiskey, Benedictine, and Angostura bitters.
  • Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir the ingredients until well chilled.
  • Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • If desired, express the oils of a lemon peel over the drink and garnish with the peel.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy responsibly.


The Monte Carlo can be considered a variation of the classic Manhattan, substituting Benedictine for vermouth. It's a drink best enjoyed slowly to appreciate its complex flavors.
Keyword Benedictine, bitters, Classic Cocktail, Cocktail, Digestif, Monte Carlo, Rye Whiskey, simple cocktail, Whiskey

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