The 1942 classic Hollywood movie Casablanca is full of romance and political espionage set against a backdrop of wartime conflict in Casablanca, Morocco. Deceit, danger, love, and betrayal are all common themes in this critically acclaimed and Academy Award winning film starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid. Its characters, dialogue, and music have become iconic in the film world and Casablanca is now considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.
Rick’s Café Americain, the gin-joint owned by the bitter and cynical Rick Blaine (Bogart) in the movie, was an upscale nightclub and gambling den that attracted the likes of French and Nazi officials, thieves, and refugees. This rough and tumble joint played a central part in the movie Casablanca and, thanks to one woman, the fantasy place has now become a reality…
In an old courtyard-style mansion set against the walls of the Old Medina in Casablanca the mythical Rick’s Café was brought to life by one woman’s dream to demonstrate true American values. Kathy Kriger worked for the US embassy but, following 9/11, decided that she wanted to leave the government, stay in Morocco, and pursue her dream of recreating Rick’s Café from the legendary Casablanca movie. After two years of development and building, in 2004, Rick’s Café finally opened its doors to rave reviews.
Music Nights at Rick’s Café
The extraordinary pianist Issam Chabaa sits in the grand piano bar at Rick’s Café surrounded by architecture and decorative details reminiscent of the famous gin-joint from the film. Visitors sit and enjoy the music at elaborate tables surrounded by curved arches, balconies, a sculpted bar, and elaborately beaded and stenciled brass lighting. Four fireplaces and tables with a view of the fishing port add elegance and ambience to this upscale joint.
Chabaa can be found playing music reminiscent of the 40’s and 50’s nightly from Tuesday through Sunday including classic French, Spanish, and Brazilian songs. The famous “Time Goes By” song from the Casablanca movie is inevitably played several times a night and, with the lyrics up on the café’s website, patrons are more than welcome to help Chabaa sing along.
Rick’s café also hosts jam sessions every Sunday night, inviting artists, both local and foreign, the chance to hop onstage and showcase their talents. Jazz is widely appreciated in Casablanca and Rick’s Café offers yet another venue for jazz musicians to practice their art.
The international menu at Rick’s Café specializes in Casablanca’s fresh fish, vegetables, and fruit. The full menu offers three-course meals such as goat cheese salad with figs and roasted salmon with tomato vinaigrette all to be finished off with Rick’s famous cheese cake. As well as the set menu the chef also offers a specials menu that changes daily.
The champagne never seemed to stop flowing in the film Casablanca and at Rick’s Café there is certainly no shortage of it with champagne by the glass a staple on the bar menu. Along with the champagne a full range of spirits and cocktails are offered, including the special house cocktail, the Sour Jdid, a delicious mixture of whiskey sour with red vermouth, mashed lemons, and a splash of sparkling water. This delicious and unique cocktail, named after the Boulevard Sour Jdid where Rick’s Café is located, has proven to be a hit and, is so refreshing, that it is offered as a two-for-one deal! I guess you really can’t drink just one.
The combination of the elegant atmosphere, nostalgic music, excellent food, and the fully-stacked bar make visitors feel as though they have stepped back in time and into a scene of Casablanca that they just might not want to leave.