Casino Cocktail

By Robert Hess

The Casino Cocktail is a very gin forward cocktail. It can be made with Old Tom gin and showcases that spirit well.

Recipe

Ingredients

2 oz gin

1/8 oz lemon juice

1/8 oz Maraschino Liqueur

2 dashes Bitter Truth Orange Bitters

Instructions

Stir ingredients with ice.

Garnish with a cherry.

Comments
Mutineer Magazine 4 Oct 2011
2:52 pm

Sounds great, looking forward to making this. Awesome job per usual, Robert!

Rhett 4 Oct 2011
9:48 pm

I was coincidentally listening to this new episode in the background while blogging about how much I hate when I end up at bars where the bartenders shake everything!
I’m definitely a gin guy and will be mixing this up momentarily… thanks Robert!

PS, I’ve never seen Old Tom gin anywhere (of course I’m in Canada where it’s hard to find a lot of things). Is it easy/difficult/impossible to find in the US?

Ginty 5 Oct 2011
5:37 am

Here, here Rhett! Are you in Ontario? If so, let’s harass the LCBO together! Maybe together we can knock some sense into them. They stocked Old Tom last year, but then de-listed it.

Robert Hess 5 Oct 2011
5:53 am

Old Tom… now that’s opening what could be considered a big can of worms. “Exactly” what “Old Tom” is almost as debatable as “The right way to make a Martini”. Most of us, when we first encountered “Old Tom” references, it was in old recipe books, and weren’t quite sure what it was. A little light digging, would bring up various comments that it was basically gin with a little sugar in it which was used to mask the poor distilling that was being used in the 1800’s. However, digging a little further, and it appears as though this isn’t the full story.

It is important to remember that while today we might be focused on strict and specific definitions (for example, “Bourbon Whiskey” needs to be made with 51% or more corn), such was not always the case. In some of the old bartender manuals, they would even describe how bartenders could “make” scotch, rum, whiskey, etc by mixing grain alcohol and various flavoring components. So it appears that the label “Old Tom” was not a specific definition of a product, just a broad generalization. I suppose you could think of it as a more “rustic” gin then the “London Dry” style which followed.

Old Tom would have been made in a pot still most likely, which would have resulted in a base distilate which would have still had some character to it, perhaps more like what a blended Irish Whisky is like today (ok, maybe mix it 50/50 with vodka, and that might give you a better idea). This was then macerated with the various botonicals and such they would use, which would include juniper of course. “Some” manufactureres might add sugar, because there weren’t any regulations preventing it, to hide imperfections if they felt they needed to, but other’s wouldn’t.

It is also believed that in the 1800’s, if a recipe called simply for “gin”, they were probably meaning Dutch Gin, or “genever”, which is also a different beast. So by saying “old tom” gin, the recipes may have been essentially saying “don’t use genever”.

Of course, all of this is still debateable, with various old stashes of Old Tom showing up periodically and folks comparing one to another, in order to really understand what the people back in those days were thinking about, and drinking.

So, I wouldn’t get too caught up in “Old Tom” gin, although it is a very interesting topic.

-Robert

photococktail 5 Oct 2011
1:46 pm

Amazing cocktail, the Casino, and very beautifully explained, as always, by Robert.
If you feel like it and don’t mind, we made a picture of it and a whole post, in our blog.
Sorry it’s only in spanish, but hope you like it
http://photococktail.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/casino/

George R. Welch 5 Oct 2011
3:37 pm

Very interesting cocktail!  Glancing at the ingredients I immediately thought of the gin sour (aviation).  But keeping the added ingredients down to just dashes really changes the character.  It’s really more like a very dry martini, but like you say a little hint of cherry and citrus instead of the various aromas whatever vermouth you use would bring.

Unlike a more powerful combo like the aviation, the choice of gin here seems really important.  I used Hendricks instead of BE, to try to pair those floral notes of that gin with the cherry notes of the dash of Maraschino.

My only suggestion is that there is too much citrus.  Two dashes of orange bitters is about half the lemon juice, and together they overpower the Maraschino.  I’d cut the lemon back a bit so that you have a bar spoon full of lemon-juice/orange bitters combined and then the same bar spoon full of Maraschino.  But that’s just me :-)....

—George

Nick L. 5 Oct 2011
3:58 pm

Since “bar spoon” isn’t a standard measurement and I don’t have any 1/8 ounce measures, it’s my understanding that in the Savoy a “dash” is the equivalent of 1/3 teaspoon (which I do have).  This conversion has worked extremely well in the past when I’ve dug recipes out of that book.

George R. Welch 5 Oct 2011
4:03 pm

Hmmm, I need to get a 1/3 tsp.  But, I really love these bar spoons:

http://www.cocktailkingdom.com/product-p/bsp_teardropxx_0024_stl.htm

and their equivalents in different lengths.  They hold just slightly less than 1/2 tsp.  Probably pretty close to a “heaping third tsp”.

—George

Robert Hess 6 Oct 2011
5:51 am

It can get very tricky with some of these smaller measures, and often difficult to get really good control over. Even with a dasher bottle, it can vary quite a bit, not just from bottle to bottle, but even from full bottle to almost empty bottle. If I need to measure a “dash” from a bottle without a dasher top, I’ll hold my thumb over the opening, and then allow just the barest amount out. If I need to measure ~1/8 ounce, I will often pour straight from the bottle and only pour the smallest amount I possibly can, which is usually pretty close. Holding a barspoon under the pour can be a little insurance, just in case.

Todd Taylor 6 Oct 2011
6:23 am

Old Tom Gin was distilled in London in the 19th century by a family that owned a pub called “Old Tom.”  The name comes from a black Tomcat that hung outside the pub.  Passersby would place a coin in the cat and a shot of gin would pour out of its mouth.  Recently, the original receipe was discovered and is now marketed by the Hayman’s Distillers and imported into the US.  It is available on the East Coast, even in Maryland with its arcane distribution laws.  My source for the origin comes from Jason Wilson, author of “Boozehound-On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits,” and a contributer to the Washington Post.

Steven D. Lauria 6 Oct 2011
8:10 am

Hi Robert—-

This cocktail appears to be basically an Aviation with the addition of bitters.  Do you think that Harry Craddock got the idea for this Casino Cocktail using simple substitution from the Aviation, which, of course, is gin, maraschino liqueur and fresh lemon juice (plus a little Creme de Violette in the original at the turn of last century for the blue color)?

David Wondrich 7 Oct 2011
11:16 am

Just a note about the history of Old Tom gin. Back in the 19th century, it did not in fact belong to any one company, nor was there just one recipe for it. It was a style of gin, not a brand—and not even a strictly-defined style at that. In general, it was a gin made by redistilling spirits with a juniper-heavy mix of botanicals and sweetening and lightly aging the result, usually in neutral containers. The base spirit used varied over time as distilling technology changed and it became easier to get a purely neutral spirit; in the early part of the century, it would have been heavier and even slightly malty. By the end of the century, it was largely replaced by the unsweetened style of gin based on neutral spirits we know as London dry gin. Heyman’s is an excellent example of a late-style Old Tom.

Robert Hess 7 Oct 2011
11:26 am

Thanks David! Great to have a little extra insight from the expert here. As I recall, you also had a hand at helping craft Ransom’s Old Tom Gin recipe?

David Wondrich 7 Oct 2011
11:29 am

Indeed. That one’s an attempt to take all the most interesting features of Old Tom and put them together in one gin: barrel aging, richer base spirit, etc.

Arrobee 16 May 2012
11:23 am

Robert, i love this cocktail and really like your green measuring jigger. I was wondering what brand it is and where you obtained it. thanks much, keep up the killer work.

Robert Hess 16 May 2012
11:39 am

The jigger I am using here is the “Progressive International Magnetic Measuring Duet”, available at many kitchen stores as well as Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002NUW60M/
-Robert

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