An odds-on favourite? Here’s the Casino cocktail


Casino Cocktail 

60ml Ransom Old Tom Gin
5ml lemon juice
5ml dashes maraschino
2 dashes of orange bitters
Shake all ingredients and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Adapted from the
Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930

by Sam Bygrave
Photography by Christopher Pearce
In association with Savant Spirits

You know, of course, that the original definition of the cocktail is that of a spirit, plus bitters, sugar, and water. It’s the famous formulation and one, when made with whiskey, has long been known as an Old Fashioned (indeed, even in Olden Times was it known thus). And if said Cocktail was a Gin Cocktail, and you added a dash of maraschino or curacao (or even both) and served it up, then you’d know that as an Improved Gin Cocktail. Well, this drink here is what happens when you take the recipe and roll the dice with a dash of lemon juice.

The Casino Cocktail appears in Harry Craddock’s 1930 book, The Savoy Cocktail Book and it might not be the only recipe that uses the name (David Wondrich has written in Esquire of a Champagne Cocktail variation called the Casino, in which cognac features).


It’s in Craddock’s book, too, that you can find a close relation of the Casino Cocktail — the Aviation, which combines London dry gin, lemon juice, and maraschino. Though Craddock’s recipe was adopted by many bartenders, it wasn’t the first time the Aviation had appeared in print, and it wasn’t exactly the most correct recipe, either. After all, why is the Aviation named as it is? Because of one ingredient — creme de violette — that Craddock’s recipe left out.

You have to go back to Hugo Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks from 1916 for the correct recipe, and the Aviation, when made Ensslin’s way, turns a pale blue. And he’s also got a recipe for a Casino Cocktail — thankfully, aside from a dash more of lemon juice, Ensslin’s recipe matches Craddock’s, and they both call for Old Tom Gin, because it’s the Old Tom that makes this drink sing; the added sweetness takes the edge off the citrus and bitters, and rounds out the mouthfeel.

That’s the kind of drink we’ll gladly take a gamble on.

Notes on ingredients
Ransom Old Tom Gin
Its subtle maltiness is the result of using a base wort of malted barley, combined with an infusion of botanicals in high proof corn spirits. The final distillation is run through an alembic pot still in order to preserve the maximum amount of aromatics, flavour and body. Supplier: Savant Spirits

•Ransom Old Tom Gin is a historically accurate revival of the predominant Gin in fashion during the pre-Prohibition days of the mid 1800’s.
•Working closely with cocktail historian and writer, David Wondrich, distiller Tas Seestedt wanted to create an Old Tom gin that was far removed from the London Dry style.
•In the 1800’s, Old Tom gin was a staple bottle of the bar — so much so that Harry Johnson’s Bartenders Manual listed it as a required ingredient.

1 Comment
  1. The origins of the Aviation cocktail can be traced back to Hugo R. Ensslin, head bartender at Hotel Wallick in New York in the 1900s, pre-Prohibition. It features in his cocktail book, 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks and is the first recorded instance of the recipe. It calls for:

    1/3 Lemon Juice

    2/3 El Bart Gin

    2 dashes Maraschino

    2 dashes Crème de Violette

    Shake well in a mixing glass with cracked ice, strain and serve.

    In the 1930 edition of Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, the recipe replicates that of Hugo Ensslin but omits the Crème de Violette altogether. As the liqueur became difficult to source, it was dropped from the cocktail until a recent revival which saw more brands producing the liqueur.

    Crème de Violette
    Crème de Violette is a liqueur with a delicate floral aroma and flavour of violets. It is the key ingredient in the Aviation cocktail. Not only does it impart the sweetness of violets but it gives the cocktail a sky blue hue from which the name is derived. Without Crème de Violette, the drink is simply a gin sour with a dash of Maraschino.

    Crème Yvette vs Crème de Violette
    Some recipes call for Crème Yvette as a substitute for Crème de Violette. There is a difference between the two liqueurs. Crème de Violette is a liqueur made with violet petals while Crème Yvette (also called Crème d’Yvette or Crème de Yvette) is made with

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