Monte Carlo has been long used to evoke luxury. The original referent, a quartier of the Principality of Monaco on the French Riviera, is home to the world’s most famous casino, and has been a destination for the idle rich for generations.
Such long-standing relation has resulted more recently in overuse and debasement of the association. Far from an allusion to James Bond improbably winning a high-stakes hand of baccarat, the name has now become associated with either an “unpretentiously luxurious” and self-proclaimed “tray sheek” Vegas resort or a discontinued (but awesome) muscle car that was, for many years, the most dominant body style in NASCAR.
Rest assured, however, that when the cocktail known as the Monte Carlo was created, the name still possessed its connotations of Continental luxury. The drink itself is a great example of what is possible with the combination of a bare few classic ingredients.
The Monte Carlo
2 oz. rye whiskey
½ oz. Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir all together with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
It is, of course, a variation on a Manhattan. That said, a Manhattan is a Manhattan. This drink is not. Thus, it has a different name. Classic cocktails are like that. Very similar drinks still have different names. Why? Because, although in admittedly subtle ways, various drinks employ different ratios or ingredients or both. By way of extreme example, there are those who assert that a Martini must be stirred, and, if shaken à la Commander Bond, the resulting beverage is actually called a Bradford. Perhaps such a picayune taxonomy goes too far, but one must certainly draw the line at the modern practice of suffixing any and all cocktails served straight up with “-tini.”