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 is quite close to the Aviation cocktail. Besides Gin, it contains Maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, and orange bitters.
In saying this, both drinks have this genuinely classy touch: Exquisite, sophisticated, and a perfect drink for having in an old-school Casino with a dress code.
The Casino Cocktail is part of the Daisy cocktail category. This category comprises drinks made of a spirit, citrus, and a flavored sweetener.
The perfect Gin for a Casino cocktail
There are many different types of Gin, which reflects in the various recipes for the Casino cocktail.
Some use the traditional Old Tom Gin, while others opt for the widely available London Dry Gin. And you can even find some takes based on New Western Dry Gins.
But to keep a Casino cocktail traditional, you should definitely opt for an Old Tom Gin. It is significantly sweeter than most other types.
Usually, that is not favorable when it comes to cocktails. In a Casino, however, you need that sweetness to achieve a somewhat rounder result.
Using Dry Gins or even London Dry Gins often leads to a pretty tart cocktail. That's not necessarily unpleasant in itself, but then again, also not how the cocktail should taste.
If you want to use a Dry Gin, you can also 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 of the Casino
The lemon juice in the Casino cocktail has to be freshly squeezed. Only juice from actual lemons will bring the natural, intense citrus note you need in the drink.
As for the Maraschino liqueur, pick a genuine one made with real Marasca cherries.
Luxardo is top quality and the best-seller for Maraschino liqueur. But other brands like Lazzaroni or Maraska work equally fine.
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.
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 Casino recipe
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 in this recipe is pretty hard to assess.
Ensslin did not further specify how he measured his drinks - presumably dashes. So not knowing exactly how much "one dash" is, in this case, makes it difficult to be sure about the exact composition.
Contemporary recipes of the Casino cocktail sometimes deviate strongly from the original, which is also due to the cocktail's history.
Only 13 years after the original recipe was published, Harry Craddock distributed his own take on it in the Savoy Cocktail Book.
Although Harry Craddock's publication became one of the most influential cocktail books in history, the recipe for a Casino cocktail underwent further transitions.
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. You can find various interpretations and ways to make a Casino, some closer to the original recipe, others less.
I prefer my 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 remain the same.
Difference between the Casino Cocktail and the Aviation
As you can see from the color, the main difference between an Aviation and Casino cocktail is Crème de violette.
While the Aviation relies on this purple liqueur to create its iconic color, the Casino doesn't use Crème de violette at all.
Instead, orange bitters round up the recipe in the traditional Casino recipe.
- 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 mixing glass with plenty of ice. Stir until the drink is well-chilled.
- Then double strain into a coupe or Nick & Nora glass.
- Garnish with a Maraschino cherry and lemon peel.