I adore the movie Casablanca. The romantic in me swoons at the palatable chemistry between Rick and Ilsa, while my social justice warrior admires Rick’s decision to choose the greater good over the love of his life. Blatant racism and sexism aside, Casablanca elicits my sentimentalities. The music, Ilsa’s dresses, pre-occupied Paris, flowing champagne, scary Nazis, clever self-awareness, fear of the unknown – how sad and magnificent!

For better or worse, alcohol plays a central role in the film. Bourbon, champagne, and French 75s have starring roles. The champagne cocktail, my personal favorite, is ordered by Laszlo as he meets his French resistance contact at Rick’s. Hence, The Casablanca gelatin mold is based on the champagne cocktail.

Several variations of champagne cocktails exist, but the classic recipe calls for 1 sugar cube, 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters, and champagne. (As much as I love champagne, I rarely can afford it! Instead I purchase less expensive Spanish Cava or Italian Prosecco.) The bitters and sugar cube offers a tasty, spicy punch to any sparking wine. The spicy sweetness transferred nicely into a gelatin mold.

Recipe for 3.5 cups

  • 2 packets gelatin
  • ½ cup water (for blooming gelatin)
  • ½ sparking wine for heating
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups sparking wine
  • 8-10 dashes of bitters (or to taste, personally I prefer A LOT of bitters!)

Put ½ cup of cold water in a medium bowl and sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin on top of the water.  Set bowl aside.

Put ½ cup sparkling wine and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low boil until sugar dissolves. Add to the bloomed gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir in sparkling wine and bitters. Spoon mixture into mold(s). Put in refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours


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