Sleeper Cocktail: The Casino

Sleeper Cocktail: The Casino


Long one of my favorite drinks, you’ll be lucky if you visit a bar that can make a proper Casino. A full three of the ingredients are uncommon to rare in all but the swankiest of establishments… but if you find one on the specialty menu of that fancy restaurant you’re dining at, try one. You won’t be sorry.

The Casino is a lot of gin with some subtle but crucial flavorings. Maraschino (cherry liqueur, mainly from Croatia) gives it a well, cherry bite. Lemon juice makes it tart, cutting the alcohol very well. Orange bitters add a little je ne sais quoi, and a brandied cherry provides the perfect way to polish the thing off.

The Casino
2 oz. gin (I prefer Plymouth or Bombay Sapphire)
1/4 oz. Maraschino liqueur
1/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 dashes orange bitters

Shake all the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry (a maraschino cherry will work in a pinch, but it’s not the same). (Add a tiny bit of the brandy liquid from the cherry jar into the drink to give it a nifty pinkish tone.)

You can find Maraschino in most liquor stores and orange bitters are becoming more common these days. Fee Brothers can tell you where to get their fine product in your area if you email them. I found brandied cherries at my local upscale market, in the preserves aisle.

Some notes: This cocktail is also called an Aviation, typically without the bitters or the cherry. You’ll also see the proportions vary wildly: Many online recipes will say you should put 1/4 teaspoon each of lemon juice and Maraschino in the drink, but that’s way too little to counter a full 2 ounces of gin. 1/4 ounce (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) is far more appropriate and makes a much tastier drink.

I’ve also tried this drink with lemon-infused vodka, but it doesn’t taste as good. The aromatics in the gin really make the Casino sing. Use a gin that doesn’t have too much juniper in it: Tanqueray is awful in a Casino.

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  1. John from Concord on March 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Interesting variation on an Aviation, I look forward to trying it. Your proportions are spot-on, I expect, and of course Plymouth is the stuff to use. And of course, many of us use Creme de Violette in our Aviations to give them that lovely evening-sky color, which adds a little extra too….

  2. Mardec on September 2, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Hmm, I used “amer picon l’orange” for orange bitters, but that gave the casino a dark orange color. Strange. What kind did you use?

    For the rest, it’s an excellent cocktail. You really don’t taste it is that strong, and I like that. Way better then, let we say, the avarage martini.

  3. Christopher Null on September 2, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I use Fee Brothers.

  4. Edoc on May 12, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Is the Italian Luxardo Maraschino suitable for the Maraschino component of this drink, or is Luxardo something different?

  5. Christopher Null on May 12, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Edoc – Luxardo is fine. I typically use Maraska, but they’re interchangeable.

  6. Edoc on May 12, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Great, thanks. The Casino (and the Sazerac) have risen to the top of my list of favorite cocktails, and I just had an abrupt realization that maybe I was using the wrong Maraschino product.

  7. Edoc on May 12, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Using the wrong Maraschino for the Casino, that is.

  8. Dolmetscher on May 18, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Great cocktail. Tried it at the last party. Was a super success.

  9. Sessel on November 9, 2011 at 11:17 am

    You got to the heart of it. Nice one…

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