The Story Behind The The Casino
The Casino is a slightly tart, slightly sweet pre-Prohibition gin cocktail. Bright cherry, lemon, and orange notes hit the palate, while gin provides a botanical backbone to hold everything together. This recipe calls for Old Tom gin, imparting sweetness and a fuller texture than styles such as London Dry or New Western. Old Tom gin doesn’t have many specific production guidelines, but it was popularized in the early 19th century by Dutch distillers who used a lot of quality grain in their gin, making for malty, flavorful liquid.
The Casino has no credited creator, though writer and bartender Jacob A. Didier was the first to publish the recipe, including it in his 1909 book “The Reminder: An Up-to-Date Bartenders’ Vest Pocket Guide.” In light of Didier’s terminology, his Casino spec offers very loosely defined measurements for the cocktail’s components, such as “one drink of Tom gin,” and “two dashes of lemon juice.” The drink appears again in the 1916 book “Recipes for Mixed Drinks” by NYC bartender Hugo R. Ensslin, before showing up in Harry Craddock’s “Savoy Cocktail Book” and the equally canonical “Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” by David Embury. Embury’s version, however, calls for orange juice instead of orange bitters.
This cocktail falls into the genre of sour drinks known as “Daisies,” which all include a spirit, citrus, and a sweet liqueur — the Sidecar, Margarita, and Aviation meet these criteria as well. While this cocktail is traditionally stirred, we opt for shaking, as we find that it more effectively incorporates the lemon juice.