Hail Caesar: Recipes for Canada’s Cocktail
The iterations of the Caesar cocktail are numerous, a standing challenge to bartenders across the land to come up with concoctions that are more than just a drink. Photo: GMVozd/Getty Images
All hail National Caesar Day! This year, May 20 marked the 52nd birthday of the Caesar cocktail, so we say celebrate the long weekend and mix one up.
The dearly beloved Canuck twist on a Bloody Mary, which saw Walter Chell, a bartender at the Calgary Inn (now a Westin), tweaking the tomato base with a fresh hit of clam juice, to create the hotel restaurant’s signature cocktail. Yes, the libation, a half-century and counting, is always celebrated on the Thursday before the first long weekend of summer, and its popularity shows no signs of fading. Its iterations are numerous, a standing challenge to bartenders across the land to come up with concoctions that are more than just a drink.
And, did you know that, as a country, we drink more than 450 million of these savoury sippers every year!
Now, between Clamato juice varieties — take extra spicy or smoky maple, for example — to salts and spices rimming the glass to being topped with garnishes from bacon and eggs to beef sliders and beyond, the Caesar is more than just a brunch staple or a hangover hair-of-the-dog cure (but, please, don’t mind us if we do anyway).
It’s classic, it’s Canadian and, sometimes, it’s even a meal unto itself. To help us all celebrate National Caesar Day on May 20 and just in time for the Victoria Day weekend, we’ve asked a few experts to share their secret recipes. Cheers!
First, Get the Basics
“Everyone you talk to has a different way of making a Caesar,” say Katherine and John Vellinga, co-founders of Oakville, Ont.-based Zirkova Vodka. “And everyone’s way is the ‘best way.’ You know what I’m talking about. We all have that relative who rules with a mighty fist over the cocktail station at family get-togethers and claims that no one has ever made a Caesar better than they have. And to be honest, that’s the beauty of it all. The Caesar, much like Canada, is very versatile. It can take on many shapes and forms: spicy, sweet, tart, refreshing. But before we throw in that pickle juice, horseradish, barbecue sauce or top it with a crazy garnish, there’s a base to this ever so popular cocktail.” zirkova.com
Ingredients: Celery salt/Caesar rimmer, Zirkova Vodka, Clamato Juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and pepper
Rim it: Rim a glass with celery salt or Caesar rimmer. To do this, wet a plate and then dip the rim of the glass onto the wet plate (lime juice, water, etc.) and then dip the rim of the glass to the celery salt or Caesar rimmer. Then add ice to your glass.
Build the Caesar: Add 1 oz Zirkova Together Vodka, 4 oz of Clamato Juice, 4 dashes of Worcestershire, 2 dashes of Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and enjoy!
Make it your own: Experiment with different garnishes like Extreme Beans, celery, pickles, jalapeño, pizza slices. Add more hot sauce to increase the heat. The possibilities are endless. And before you know it, you’ll be the one making the Caesars at the next family get-together.
Or pair it with fajitas, another North American favourite, and just order it all in. We borrowed this twist from our friends at Lone Star.
Lone Star Signature Caesar Recipe
Smoked Spice Rimmer (optional); celery salt is also a good go-to
Classic Caesar Mix made with Motts Clamato
Worcestershire Sauce and a dash of your favourite Hot Sauce
1 oz vodka, such as Tito’s Handmade
Ground pepper or salt to taste
Celery stalk, sliced jalapeno, lime wedge
1. Rim a glass with a lime wedge, and dip into the Smoked-Spice Rimmer.
2. Fill glass with ice
3. Add 1 oz vodka
4. Add 5 oz Classic Caesar Mix
5. Garnish with celery stalk, lime wedge and jalapeno slice
6. Add ground pepper or salt to taste
7. Looking to kick it up a notch? Add a bit more spice, hot sauce or additional jalapeño slices
Don’t Stress About it – Go For the Free Pour
Ready to Drink concoctions are all the rage right now, taking the pressure of your at-home bartending skills and adding more enjoyment and ease to happy hour. To wit, Walter Craft Caesar has created its first ever pre-mixed Caesar cocktail, made right here in Canada using premium vodka and its classically seasoned, all-natural mixer. The ready-to-serve beverage contains no high-fructose corn syrup, no MSG, no artificial colours or flavours and is Ocean Wise recommended, meaning its ingredients are sustainably sourced with the health of our oceans in mind.
Just crack one open, pour over ice and, all hail Caesar!
This year, we are gonna keep it simple and celebrate the little victories.
1 oz vodka or (optional) gin, tequila or whatever you have on hand (also, go on and add some more booze, times are tough and we ain’t judging)
4 oz Caesar Mix, such as Walter Craft (any flavour will do)
Rim: rub the edge of the glass with a slice of lemon or lime, then dip in celery salt, Montreal steak spice or sea salt, which all work in a pinch (or go no rim – it’s a new world out there)
Garnish: whatever you’ve got kicking around
No vodka? No worries. Try a made-in-Canada spirit instead
1 oz Canadian Whiskey
4 oz Caesar mix (Classic Spice), such as Walter Craft
1 oz beef stock
1 dash black pepper bitters (or fresh grated black pepper)
1 bar spoon barbecue sauce
2 dashes hot sauce
1 squeeze lemon
Rim: honey, Walter Craft Caesar Rim, cracked black pepper (or celery salt, Montreal steak spice or sea salt)
Garnish: beef jerky, lemon, celery stalk
1. Rim glass with local honey, then dip in Walter Craft Caesar Rim and cracked black pepper, or try celery salt, Montreal steak spice or sea salt.
2. Fill glass full with ice, add your favourite Canadian whisky, Caesar mix ), remaining ingredients, and stir gently. Garnish with locally made beef jerky, fresh lemon wedge and celery stalk.
Summit Vodka Caesar
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 fluid ounce Summit vodka
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash hot pepper sauce
8 fluid ounces tomato and clam juice cocktail (such as Clamato®)
Garnish: 1 lime wedge and 1 celery stick
1. Wet the rim of a cocktail glass with the lime wedge; set aside for garnish. Place celery salt in a small dish, and press the rim of the glass into the salt to coat. Add ice to the glass.
2. Pour vodka, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce over the ice; top with tomato-clam juice. Garnish with lime wedge and celery stick. Serve with a straw.