A Caesar is made with vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and – the special ingredient – clamato juice. Clamato is a mixture of tomato and clam juice. Before trying my first Caesar, I imagined drinking it would be like pouring clammy seawater down my throat. Fortunately, I was wrong - while drinking clam juice sounds rather unappealing, the mixture is actually quite tasty. I fell head over heels in love.
Clamato hasn’t always been so refined. The first Caesars were made in Calgary, in 1969, to accompany the opening of a restaurant called Marco’s. Those drinks consisted of tomato juice and mashed clams. Imagine getting your drink from the bar, holding it tenderly in your hands, taking your first swallow and … blech! Clam chunks in your mouth.
To polish off the Caesar, which is served on the rocks in a celery-salt rimmed glass, the bartender adds a large celery stalk and a wedge of lime as a garnish. An intrepid bartender might mix things up a little and add a pickled green bean or a toothpick full of olives instead. I personally favor two or three toothpicks chock full of olives, with a couple pickled beans and lime on the side. I surveyed my several Canadian Caesar experts (who doesn’t have these sort of experts on hand??) about other variations on this ambrosial cocktail, and they informed me there is no limit to what tasty tidbits can be tossed in. Along with the pickled green beans and olives, Caesars have been spotted with large shrimp, asparagus stalks, or – believe it or not – pieces of beef jerky. What will they think of next?!
In honor of the Caesar’s 40th anniversary, the mayor of Calgary, Dave Bronconnier, is making a new holiday – Caesar Day. This day also marks a launch to petition for the Caesar to officially become Canada’s national drink. Hopefully by this time next year, May 13th will be a day full of deliciousness, debauchery, and national pride.
In the wise words of Molson, “Here’s to Canada.”Labels: canada national drink caesar bloody mary katie bradford