Hail Caesar!

Celebrating 40 years of the Caesar Cocktail (source: Calgary Herald)


Despite my best efforts, Calgary really isn’t known as a cocktail-enabled city.  Sure, we got the same influx of variable-tinis that every other place in North America got a few years ago, but beyond the 18 year olds thinking they’re sophisticated drinking a concotion of ingredients more suited to a kool-aid pitcher than a martini glass, we’re far more oriented along a beer-axis.

The exception to this is the Caesar cocktail, a drink few outside of Canada know about, that was invented here in Calgary 40 years agot.  Sort of a bastard relation to the Bloody Mary, the drink differs from the rather staid Mary by subbing out the tomato juice for clamato… a clam and tomato juice concoction.

Stop screaming and running away. You’ve had that combination in pasta sauces, I’m sure. Sit back down, and let’s continue.

The traditional caesar recipe is stated somewhat as the article above. The actual recipe is a little short on detail,  so let us do this up with a little more description:

  • Rim an appropriate glass with celery salt, add ice.
  • 1 ounce vodka (though you’ll be hard pressed to find a bartender in this town that limits it to a measly one ounce)
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes tabasco sauce
  • A little salt, a little pepper (this is really to taste. Everyone I’ve ever seen does it differently. Personally I add a little extra celery salt to the drink itself.
  • Top the glass up with clamato juice (I do know people who still make their own clam/tomato infusion for caesars, and it is glorious)
  • Add a celery stick for garnish.

Simple, tasty, good in winter or summer.

The trick, of course, is in the modifications. I am a fan of spicy food, and a spicy drink is no exception.  The addition of some ground horseradish can do wonders for this sort of drink, for instance. For the brave, the substitution of any of those “5 alarm XXX Holy #@!&^!” hot sauces can really turn the experience into something exciting (or suicidal, depending on your viewpoint). I’ve had some success with the really spicy versions by allowing some whole peppercorns to be steeped in the clamato for  awhile. Personally, though, I have found some of the most enjoyable modifications to be with the garnish.

After all, celery is boring.

Might I suggest, if you are going to make this delicious Calgary Cocktail, the addition of some spicy pickled string beans? Or a stalk of pickled asparagus? Not only does it make the drink look different, but the addition of a bit of pickle can really bring out an interesting addition to the flavour. I’ve seen green olives adorning such a drink to excellent results as well. One place I’ve known, did a garnish with banana peppers to similar effect.

In the end, no matter what you make for an addition, I recommend the Caesar at any party. They’re easy to make en masse, and few people in my experience seem to turn them down. The masses will vote you a triumph for your addition to the party!

Just remember, “memento mori”… thou art mortal. Try not to have too many of these in one sitting, and always enjoy responsibly.


  1. I could never figure out you Canucks and your affinity for clam infused tomato juice – add some alcohol and it might just work.

  2. Well there's also the “Vodka makes everything good” concept at play here, definitely.

    One thing to note: this is one of the few drinks where I think you can use pretty much any vodka. I have yet to see any of the better vodkas' finer qualities stand up to an onslaught of spice and clamato. They taste pretty much the same with Russian Prince out of the plastic bottle, as they do with Ketel One or Wyborowa.

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