The Casino Cocktail is one of the lesser-known classic cocktails from the list of IBA cocktails.
Invented by Hugo Ensslin, the gin-forward composition has a genuinely classy touch: Exquisite, sophisticated, and a perfect drink to order in an old-school Casino with a dress code.
Quick Facts Casino Cocktail
- Method: shaken
- Flavor profile: boozy, slightly sour
- How to serve it: straight up
- Best glassware: Nick and Nora Glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 25%, 20 grams of alcohol per serving
- 1.5 oz Old Tom Gin
- 0.75 oz Luxardo Maraschino
- 0.5 oz Fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 dashes Orange bitters
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake until the drink is well-chilled and the shaker field icy.1.5 oz Old Tom Gin, 0.75 oz Luxardo Maraschino, 0.5 oz Fresh lemon juice, 1-2 dashes Orange bitters
- Then double strain into a chilled coupe or Nick & Nora glass.
- Garnish with a Maraschino cherry and lemon peel.
The perfect Gin for a Casino Cocktail
While a lot of recipes opt for the widely available London Dry, and some even use New Western Dry Gins, we prefer to use Old Tom Gin like the original. Why?
For one, if you want to keep a Casino cocktail traditional, you should definitely opt for an Old Tom Gin. It makes a notable difference because it is sweeter than most other gin types.
Usually, the increased level of sweetness is not favorable when it comes to cocktails. In a Casino, however, you need that bit of sugar to achieve a better-balanced result.
Using dry gins or even London Dry Gins often leads to a pretty tart cocktail. That's not necessarily unpleasant -some certainly prefer it that way. But then again, also not how the cocktail is meant to taste.
If you want to use a dry gin after all, consider altering the measurements of the other components in the recipe. Or you can add just a drop or two of simple syrup. -Not more than that, though.
Other Ingredients with Our Recommendations
First of all, you should squeeze the lemon juice for the Casino cocktail from fresh and ripe lemons. Only then will you achieve the natural, intense citrus note you need in the drink.
As for the Maraschino liqueur, pick a quality one made with real Marasca cherries. Luxardo is top quality and has been the best-seller for Maraschino liqueur for decades. Yet, other renowned brands like Lazzaroni or Maraska work equally well.
Our preferred choice for orange bitters is the bottle from Angostura. You only need a few drops of these highly concentrated flavor bombs to get a nice orange note into the drink.
For the garnish, you should stick to real Maraschino cherries or something of equal grade, like Amarena cherries. Don't opt for the cheap, neon red candied cocktail cherries - they are basically inedible and a no-go in an elegant classic like the Casino Cocktail.
The Casino Cocktail History
Hugo Ensslin invented the drink while working as a bartender in New York. He included the cocktail recipe in his book Recipes for Mixed Drinks, published in 1917. The original Ensslin recipe was as follows:
- two dashes Maraschino
- two dashes of Orange bitters
- two dashes of Lemon juice
- one drink of Old Tom Gin
As you can see, the ratio between the Old Tom Gin and the other ingredients is pretty hard to assess. Also, Ensslin did not further specify in his book how he measured the ingredients for his drinks. So not knowing exactly how much "one dash" is, in this case, makes it difficult to tell the exact amounts.
What made the Casino Cocktail really famous and turned it to a classic was when Ensslin included it in his Savoy Cocktail Book 13 years later. -A publication that became one of history's most influential cocktail books.
Still, the vague provision of measurements made tweaking and modernizing inevitable. - Not only in terms of ingredients and measurements, but also regarding preparation.
As you can see in the original Casino recipe, the drink used to be stirred, but today, we know that drinks with juices work better when shaken.
Casino Cocktail Variations
Contemporary recipes of the Casino Cocktail sometimes deviate strongly from the original. Over time, numerous other cocktail books included the drink in various interpretations.
For instance, David Embury replaced the orange bitters with orange juice in his take on the Casino cocktail published in his book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.
Today's versions are often a mix of the above. Still, we prefer our Casino cocktail closer to the traditional as a mix of Old Tom Gin, Maraschino Luxardo, lemon juice, and orange bitters.
The ratios are slightly different, but the components are the same as in the original.
Casino vs. Aviation
As you can see from the color, the main difference between an Aviation and Casino cocktail is the addtion of floral Crème de violette.
While the Aviation relies on this purple liqueur to create its iconic color, the Casino doesn't no Crème de violette at all. Instead, orange bitters round up the recipe in the traditional Casino recipe.
Apart from this, the recipes are very similar: they have gin, Maraschino, and lemon in common, and presentation is usually the same: in a Nick & Nora glass with a maraschino cherry.
The Casino Cocktail is part of the Daisy cocktail category. This category comprises drinks all made with a spirit, citrus, and flavored sweetener. Other famous Daisy drinks are