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.
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 Rum was originally made on sugar plantations, where presumably The Big House was white.
This week’s fast, easy, and effective recipe. Hey, you’ve got only an hour
This week’s Happy Hour Quickie — in addition to meeting the strict HHQ rules that the drink must be made from easily available ingredients, come together quickly, and be impossible to screw up — is a seasonal classic.
Happy Hour Quickie Daiquiri recipe
This week I offer my favorite version, an evolved/stolen/tweaked Daiquiri that meets my preference for tart over sweet:
1.5 oz white rum
Mid-shelf, ol-dependable, easy-on-the-wallet Bacardi works just fine
1 oz lime juice
Fresh-squoze only — you knew that
.75 simple syrup
1 oz for the more common, sweeter, arguably more balanced version
Shake and strain into a Martini glass or coupe [stronger], or over fresh ice in an Old Fashioned glass or, with cubes, into a Collins glass [more “sessionable“].
This week’s fast, easy, and effective recipe. Hey, you’ve got only an hour.
I’d say “everybody loves a Margarita,” but first, it’s demonstrably untrue. And there are at least 4,000 instances of that exact phrase in digital circulation, per Google. So instead I’ll say it’s a popular, cheerful drink — a bright and balanced classic of the “sour” type, and endlessly riffable.
More to the point, it also meets our immutable Happy Hour Quickie criteria: Easily gettable ingredients, fast assembly, and hard to screw up.
Classic Margarita recipe
2 oz. silver Tequila
.75 oz lime juice
Garnish: Salted rim, if you want. Float a lime wheel for some visual interest.
Margarita: Essential details
Always 2 oz. Tequila. This is ideally a boozy drink, and you want the tequila to push forward.
Absolutely, positively, fresh, squoze-on-the-spot lime juice only. No pre-mix permitted. But you knew that.
Use Cointreau for the orange liqueur. Triple sec, especially the cheap stuff, just doesn’t have the clean zip.
Don’t use one of those Margarita glasses with the well at the bottom. They look cheap and silly. I have no idea why this glass exists. Can either of the regular A Measured Spirit readers explain?
Quickie happy tweaks
Replace the Cointreau with agave syrup.
You’ll lose the orange-y notes, but gain a sort of earthy, vegetal authenticity. Agave is made of the same plant as Tequila.
You’ll want to back off on the agave a bit — it’s sweeter, drop for drop, than Cointreau. Start with .25 oz and taste your way up into the zone.
Agave also dials down the alcohol content of the glass without sacrificing the tequila vibe, since you’re replacing a liqueur bottled at 40% alcohol by volume with a virgin sweet.
Elegant, slightly exotic — without messing with the classic profile. Cut a piece of ginger root and run it around the rim to create a slight ginger lip tingle. Go ahead, I dare you.
A Measured Spirit’s Margarita Oscuro ™:
Swap in reposado tequila [a lightly golden version, barrel aged for less than a year] and Grand Marnier [an orange liqueur whose brandy base produces more of a “bottom” than Cointreau, at least in my humble estimation].
Oscuro roughly translates to “dusky.”
This transforms a bright and happy party drink into a darker, richer sipper. Perfect for a solo cocktail hour contemplating a summer sunset.
Martinis aren’t much more interesting than the people who drink them. Time to give the snooty kid a good hard wedgie.
It’s not that I hate Martinis exactly. It’s more that they’re tedious, like a salad at Cosi or an episode of CSI. You know what you’re getting. They accomplish what they set out to do.
They should call any mixture of gin and vermouth a “Meh-tini.”
And of course the name Martini has been desecrated since the late Clinton administration by the reckless use of flavored vodkas and day-glo sweeteners, resulting in happy hour chalkboards nationwide filled with several varieties of “[WTF]-tinis” for $5.
Then there are the cultural connotations of the drink: haughty, heeled well, self-satisfied — “classy,” as interpreted by those who view it from below.