My grandpa’s first reporting job was working for the wire news services way back when. He mainly covered Europe and WW2 during the 40s. He was a drinker too. How did I find out he was a drinker? He would write about getting his swerve on at his favorite gin joint. This is one of his many excerpts from 1941
There are monstrosities going on in Europe. This reporter has seen them and has done his journalistic duty to show them to the rest of the leading nations as either a call for action or a cry for help. They both mean the same thing at this point in time. It might seem that there isn’t a safe haven for people of a different religion or race if you aren’t part of the Nazi regime. Morocco is that light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone in Morocco is first and foremost a Moroccan citizen, and that’s it. The king doesn’t care if people identify themselves as anything else. He is filled with Moroccan pride and does his due diligence to instill it upon all of Morocco’s inhabitants.
Being a Moroccan citizen, even if it’s only for a week or two more is quite nice. It’s an international place filled with people who either are running away from something or simply want to start anew. The weather is consistently mild. It’s close to the ocean. It’s filled with history. Those are all good selling points, but so is Hawaii. The main attraction that sells Morocco is an exquisite gin joint in the port city of Casablanca.
Rick’s Café reminds one of the early 20s. It’s a Spanish style behemoth bar with a flashy neon sign capturing anyone’s attention who walks by. It screams classy even from afar and without knowing what the proper etiquette is, you actually want to put on your best tux or evening gown to get in. By no means is this to show off, it’s only to blend in. A person check’s your coat and you walk passed the bathrooms to go in the main room where the sounds of music and fun fill every nook and cranny. With booze pouring and music playing the patrons never turn their actions from behaving themselves to rambunctious. There is a nondescript code of conduct that makes Rick’s Café civil at all times.
Comfortable wooden chairs and table cloth covered tables lit dimly surround a man behind a majestic piano playing tunes ranging from the good ol’ ragtime and swing to the beautifully melodic romantic. The house piano player was absent. A young man by the name of Fats Domino was the substitute. The owner of Ricks chartered him over. Yes, he is that good. Louis Armstrong, the young sensation of New Orleans is a crowd favorite too. There is a stage too, but the music acts have nothing on the piano players.
The 30 and 40 something crowd is a solid reflection of the country in general. Africans, Europeans, Americans, Asians, Persians, and Indians share eclectic conversation with one another. The bar seats 12 and is quite the single scene. Everyone inside is a drinker and smoker. They are hard-core in both. It seems that it’s the only way to look cool. Peer pressure is a bitch and one must do what he or she has to in order to gain respect and street cred.
Gin is my drink of choice that makes Rick’s Café my match made in heaven. There are rules to the ultra dry liquor though. The booze is for cocktails only. In Britain, US, and the South Pacific, gin is used to help make up martinis, Negronis, Pimm’s Cups, and Singapore Slings. That’s what the majority of gin drinkers are accustomed to. Not at Rick’s Café. They drink the stuff straight. That is just disgusting.
Whiskey is smooth and warms your gullet when it goes down in one fell swoop. Tequila is spicy and sweet. Vodka chills the body. Gin however is dry and must be mixed with something for it to taste anything but bad. The patrons inside Rick’s don’t seem to mind. Rick’s distills their own product. The owner said he had to because getting England’s import since the war broke out became too challenging to pursue. The owner acts more as security than a public relations person. He’ll cut you off or kindly ask you to leave when he feels like it. At times, he’ll even close the place down early. He maintains power and respect that way, similar to an Al Capone type.
I write this review after my 20th visit to Rick’s Café. If something doesn’t make sense to you, it is because I am quite inebriated as I write this. Please write my editor with any of your disdainful comments. I’m now going to continue to drink away, but there is no chance in hell I’ll drink this stuff straight. “Hey Bartender, may I please have another Gibson? No onion or garnish this time. Only the booze.”
ATMOSPHERE: International well dressed 30 and 40-year-olds escape reality by drinking their sorrows away as they listen to piano playing greats.
SERVICE: The best way to get your drink is by going up to the bartender. There are cocktail servers, who are attentive, but you’ll have to wait a little bit longer, and you probably don’t want to if you come in thirsty.
SOUND LEVEL: Jovial and collected, nothing that would ever disturb the peace.
RECOMMENDED: Gin (they only have one)…and put it in a cocktail. Do yourself a benefit by doing so.
DRINKS: See above
PRICES: $3 for a drink. $1 for a pack of smokes.
OPEN: Tuesday-Saturday 9pm-4am.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes