Although the Caesar (the cocktail, not the salad) is a drink reminiscent of my wayward twenties and several queasy morning-afters, I still have a very soft spot for this tomato-based cocktail. Okay, I wasn’t actually that wayward, though perhaps my story about the Kamikaze shots had you thinking otherwise. At the end of a long dinner shift at the restaurant where I worked during some of my university years, the staff would line up at the bar with the vodka, Clamato juice, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce to make some stiff cocktails. Who said these babies need to be relegated to brunch on Sundays?
If you’ve never heard of a Caesar that doesn’t involve romaine lettuce and creamy dressing, you’re not alone. It likely means that you are neither a Canadian nor a regular visitor to my maple-leafed homeland. In fact, you are probably thinking that the drink in the picture looks suspiciously like a Bloody Mary. However, there are several distinct differences, starting with the Clamato juice. This juice, as the name suggests, is a mixture of tomato juice and clam broth and is found on the shelves of most supermarkets in the United States. I know the flavor combination sounds questionable, but you really can’t taste the clams. At least I can’t. In fact, I prefer it over tomato juice because it is not as thick and makes the cocktail go down more smoothly than a Bloody Mary.
The Clamato juice is mixed with vodka, kicked up with Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce (I like mine spicy) and served in a glass rimmed with celery salt. Traditionally, it is served with a rib of celery, but I also toss in a couple of pimento-stuffed olives. The big ones. I always save them to the end because, after marinating in the cocktail, they become little drunken orbs of joy.
So, who the heck thought of this crazy drink combination? As the story goes, the Caesar was invented in 1969 by Walter Chell, who was given the task of coming up with a signature drink for a new Italian restaurant opening in Calgary. Chell found inspiration in the classic Italian dish, Spaghetti alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Clams). The Caesar became an instant sensation and continues to be so popular that, in 2009, a petition was started to make the Caesar into Canada’s national drink. Move over Molson…here comes the Clamato.
If a petition isn’t enough to convince you, then perhaps this purported statistic will: Over 350 million Caesars are consumed each year in Canada. There are only 34 million people living in Canada. So, either we’re filling up the mountain water holes with Caesars (which might explain some of those drunken moose stories) or we think these cocktails are pretty darn tasty. So, get out there and pick up some Clamato juice and I’ll raise my Caesar-filled glass to you. Eh?
Spread the celery salt onto a small plate. Rub the rim of one 12-ounce glass with a lime wedge. Turn the glass upside down and dip the rim of the glass into the celery salt. Repeat with remaining 3 glasses.
Fill each glass with ice cubes. Divide the vodka equally between the 4 glasses. Pour Clamato juice into each glass.
Season each Caesar with several dashes of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, to desired spiciness. Stir each cocktail with a stir stick. Garnish with celery sticks, olives and remaining lime wedges. Serve.
More of my favorite cocktails:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Kamikaze Cocktail or Shot
Cookin’ Canuck’s Frozen Strawberry & Lime Daiquiri
Creative Culinary’s Grapefruit, Lime & Maraschino Martini
Family Style Food’s Italian Greyhound with Rosemary Sugar
Inspired Taste’s Pear & Cranberry Cocktail
- ¼ cup celery salt
- 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
- Ice cubes
- 6 oz. vodka
- 32 oz. Clamato juice
- Several dashes of Worcestershire sauce for each
- Several dashes of Tabasco sauce for each
- 4 long ribs of celery
- 8 pimento-stuffed olives (optional)
- Spread the celery salt onto a small plate. Rub the rim of one 12-ounce glass with a lime wedge. Turn the glass upside down and dip the rim of the glass into the celery salt. Repeat with remaining 3 glasses.
- Fill each glass with ice cubes. Divide the vodka equally between the 4 glasses. Pour Clamato juice into each glass.
- Season each Caesar with several dashes of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, to desired spiciness. Stir each cocktail with a stir stick.
- Garnish with celery sticks, olives and remaining lime wedges. Serve.