Thomas Edison. Alexander Graham Bell. Leonardo Da Vinci. These are some of the greatest inventors that have ever lived. Jokingly, some Canadians might add Walter Chell to that famous list.
Let’s slip back to the year 1969; The Calgary Inn (today the Westin Hotel) is opening up a new Italian restaurant and its manager, Walter Chell, is setting out to make a signature cocktail for its grand opening. Walter decided on a drink similar to a Bloody Mary, but with a little more spice. He combined some clam juice and tomato juice, threw in some vodka, added some Worcestershire, and other spices. All hail, the Caesar!
Coincidentally, the company Mott’s, which was mostly known for its apple juice, started selling Clamato juice at the same time. With Clamato, there is no longer a need to combine both tomato and clam juice like Walter Chell did, and it makes the creation of a Caesar much, much easier. With these two pieces falling into place, the Caesar took off in Canada and with that, an endless amount of variations. While the original had vodka, you can substitute it for rum, whisky, tequila, or gin (my favourite). Different variations also come with different spices and ingredients. Worcestershire seems to be a staple since the Caesar’s inception, and you can use whichever hot sauce you like. Tabasco seems to be the most popular since it is a) readily available at most stores; b) inexpensive; and c) great. Horseradish is also a great ingredient that is not as common, but one I highly recommend. It gives your Caesar a unique spicy taste which can impress your guests who may not have had it in a Caesar before.
As you can see in the picture above, there is a visual appeal to the Caesar that many other cocktails do not have. As a Caesar lover myself, I’d be hard pressed not to order one if I saw one floating around the room. Perhaps the reason for this (other than its deliciousness) are the garnishes of each individual Caesar as this is where you can see the creativity of each bartender. The classic celery stalk is an eye opener, along with a crisp lemon or lime wedge hovering over the celery salt rimmed glass. However, a visit to a trendy BBQ house might introduce you to bacon and other meats as garnishes, or a seafood shack with shrimp or crab legs as garnishes. Recently, a popular garnish in Canada is Matt & Steve’s Extreme Bean. It is a spicy pickled bean which can be found in select grocery stores in Canada. As well, they have other great products which can be used as a garnish such as green olives that are stuffed with their own Extreme Beans.
The possibilities of different garnishes are endless and that is a big contributor to the Caesar’s popularity. Here is a tasty recipe of the Caesar for you to enjoy, but I left the creativity of the garnish up to you.
2 oz vodka (or gin, etc. See above)
4 oz Mott’s Clamato
¼ oz lime juice
¼ tsp horseradish
3 – 5 dashes hot sauce
3 – 5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 – 3 dashes black pepper
In a 8-10 oz glass, moisten the rim with a fresh lime wedge and dip into celery salt. Add ice, all other ingredients, and stir. Garnish as desired (My favorite is a spicy pickled bean with an green olive, lime wedge and, if possible, a crispy bacon slice.)
So what are you waiting for? After reading this, you must be craving a delicious Caesar! So get out there, be creative, and let me know what you come up with in the comments below.