Of all the rum joints in the world….the Casablanca cocktail

Why would a rum drink be called the Casablanca? It doesn’t matter. Just make it

This version of a drink called the Casablanca is an outlier: No competing exotic backstories, disputed claims of authorship, layers of footnotes, etc. Nobody appears to take credit for this drink.

They should. It’s really good.

I thumbed across it in the encyclopedic but completely undistinguished The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich, which provides no detail about provenance. Neither does any online or print reference I could find.

One would assume this drink is somehow linked to the classic 1942 movie of the same name. This appears unlikely.

  • In the film, Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine drinks Scotch.
  • He refers to his Moroccan watering hole as a “gin joint.” [Says Rick famously to Ilsa: “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”]
  • I haven’t seen the movie enough to say for certain that no rum is served at Rick’s American Cafe, but the carfare between North Africa and the Caribbean alone, you’d think, would be a limiting factor.
The Casablanca cocktail recipe Craig Stoltz Measured Spirit cocktail blog
The Casablanca cocktail appears to have nothing to do with the classic movie. Who cares? It’s a delightful craft cocktail-ish spin on the Daiquiri .

A Measured Spirit Surmise™: In Spanish, “casa blanca” means “white house.” Spanish is spoken throughout the Caribbean, cradle of rum. Rum was originally made on sugar plantations, where presumably The Big House was white.

Don’t pause to ponder. Just make this drink:

The Casablanca cocktail recipe

  • 2.5 oz white rum
    • Yes, 2.5 oz
    • I used Bacardi, which for a mass brand is really pretty good
  • .5 lime juice
  • .5 Cointreau
  • .5 Maraschino liqueur
    • Luxardo only  
    • Not “cherry liqueur”! [See rant below.] 

Shake, strain, serve up. Lime wheel garnish.

The Casablanca cocktail tasting notes

This particular Casablanca is a delightful, boozy variation of the Daiquiri — a more “craft cocktail-y” version, if you will. It loads up on rum and instead of sugar sweetens with equal parts Maraschino and Cointreau.

The proportions for a sour don’t seem right: An ounce of two potent sweeteners you’d think would overpower the half-ounce of lime.

And yet: The result is well-balanced, and introduces to the classic simplicity of the Daiquiri some complementary notes of cherry and orange, plus that certain, how you say…”cocktail-ness” that I always associate with Maraschino. [I must have had some formative experience that laid down neural cable linking Maraschino and “craft cocktail.” This is a disability of for which I feel no need to compensate.]

A Daiquiri you could contemplate at any joint, in any town, in any part of the world.

Otras casas blancas

 

Author: Craig Stoltz

Cocktail enthusiast with no professional standing, former Time.com Top 25 blogger, and ex-Washington Post editor. I live in Bethesda, Maryland.

4 thoughts on “Of all the rum joints in the world….the Casablanca cocktail”

  1. Ya know, I’m going to get me a bottle of Flor de Cana 4 and give this a try and do a side-by-side. The curse of being a home drinksman is that you usually have no more than 1 or 2 different base spirits around.

    Can I ask at which bar you ply your trade?

    In other Casablanca news, I went to one of my favorite local barkeeps and gave him the recipe. He’s got a good sense for balance, proportions, etc. so I wanted to see what he could do. He didn’t have Maraschino, however, and had to use one of those second-shelf off-brands. Man, did that drink suck. He poured me a taste of the imposter and it smelled like fu*king lipstick. He shrugged, embarrassed: “Bar manager’s into inventory costs….”

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    1. Hey, ACG — Good point! That “2.5 oz rum” alone should have gotten me thinking that, along with of course the Maraschino. The drinkable modified updates to the Papa Doble are indeed a bit reminiscent of this. Google “Eric Felton” and “Hemingway Daiquiri” for some great background about how the Great Man himself actually took the things, which is very different from how we do. There’s a link to it in my blog entry titled Happy Hour Quickie #3: Daiquiri. Thanks for reading!

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    2. FWIW we prefer Flor De Cana – the 4 year old white – I wish I could get it in a 1.75. We tried to be loyal to Bacardi, ‘the Bacardi Cocktail’ and all, but there just isn’t much flavor or character there. I’m hoping that as trade with Cuba normalizes, we’ll get some good Cuban rum here in the US, and that Bacardi will reintroduce some of their older rum styles to compete in that niche.

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