National Treasure – The Caesar Turns 50!

Caesar

A true aficionado knows she’s in for a good, old-fashioned Caesar at first glance. Her checklist includes a mouthwatering combination of deep red juice over fresh ice, a savoury rim, accompanied by a crisp stalk of celery, and a plump slice of lemon or lime.

As she swipes around the top of the glass with her citrus quarter, soaking up that salty perfection, and then uses her fresh celery stick to stir this, Canada’s most satisfying of concoctions, a real fan knows she’s just a sip away from a delight for all the senses—that first unique taste of Canada’s cocktail.

Then, legend has it, a British bloke sampled his drink and commented, “That’s a bloody good Caesar.”

The Bloody Caesar celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and so we did some research to find out all about the brilliant mind behind this delicious, decidedly Canadian, concoction.

FUN FACT: Outside of Canada, the Caesar is virtually unknown. We can’t understand why, but we’re happy to keep our national drink to ourselves!

Here’s the story: in 1969, the owners of the Calgary Inn in Calgary, Alberta (now the Westin), challenged bartenders at their Owl’s Nest Bar to a contest: create a recipe that represented their new Italian-themed restaurant. Our hero, Walter Chell, took up the challenge.

Inspired by his favourite dish, Spaghetti Vongole (spaghetti with clams), Chell came up with the brilliant idea to mix clam juice with tomato juice, adding Worcestershire, Tabasco and of course, vodka.

After months of trial and error, Chell found a technique to crush clams into a “nectar” and perfected the ratios. Because of his Italian heritage, he decided to call his concoction a Caesar. The resulting drink was truly fit for a Roman emperor!

Legend has it, a British bloke then sampled his drink and commented, “That’s a bloody good Caesar.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Traditional Caesars are made from a juice that’s a mix of clam broth and tomato juice (typically Mott’s Clamato), a few dashes of hot sauce (depending if you like yours spicy) and a couple more dashes of Worcestershire, all poured over ice into a celery-salt rimmed glass garnished with a crisp stalk of celery and a lemon wedge.

Modern iterations have seen Caesars topped with everything from spring rolls, sliders, oysters, lobster claws… even an entire roast chicken, and rimmed with unique ingredients, including bacon bits and Tim Hortons coffee grounds.

The Kitchen Sink Caesar

Start with your basic Caesar:

Rim a pint-size glass with lemon or lime and celery salt. Add fresh ice, 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce, 2 to 3 dashes hot sauce (or more, or less, depending on your taste), then 1.5 oz premium vodka (we like Tag) and 3 oz. clam/tomato juice (try Mott’s Clamato or Walt’s). Season with salt and pepper and garnish with lemon or lime.

If you want to try a different rim, sample Montreal steak spice, lemon pepper or Old Bay seasoning—or experiment making your own. And for something completely different, try replacing vodka with tequila or gin… even white rum is delicious.

Garnishing your masterpiece is the best part. Here are some options to try out when you’re making your Caesar your very own.

  • the tried-and-true fresh celery stick
  • the delicious dilled bean from local company Matt and Steve’s
  • a quartered dill pickle, with a splash or two of pickle juice mixed in
  • any kind of olive, peppers, cocktail onions
  • if you want a meal, add various meats and cheeses, skewered on a stick… or even bacon, shrimp, lobster, a slider… the world is your oyster
Patio Caesar

BEST CAESARS IN MISSISSAUGA

Union Social Eatery
unionsocial.ca

Capra’s Kitchen
capraskitchen.com

Shore Grill and Grotto
shoregrillandgrotto.ca

Spice Lounge & Tapas
spicelounge.ca

BY KRISTY ELIK

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