In 1969, bartender Walter Chell developed a cocktail inspired by his favourite Italian dish, spaghetti alle vongole, to commemorate the opening of the Calgary Inn's new Italian restaurant. Although cocktails made with vodka, tomato juice and clam juice had been documented as far back as the 1950s, Chell’s concoction, dubbed the Caesar, was the first to gain widespread popularity.
The Caesar’s success was thanks in part to the Duffy-Mott Company, which released its now well-known tomato and clam juice cocktail, Mott’s Clamato. This accessible ingredient allowed restaurants and home bartenders to recreate the much-loved drink, cementing its place in Canadian cocktail culture. It’s a beloved accompaniment to hearty weekend brunches and annual Canada Day celebrations and some estimates indicate that we drink more than 400 million Caesars throughout the year. In spite of its success, the Caesar remains a uniquely Canadian drink that’s not widely known outside the Great White North.
Whether you’re seeking a no-fuss drink pairing for brunch or a convenient can to pack for a cottage trip, these new ready-to-drink Caesars deliver the cocktail’s signature spicy flavour with no mixing required.
Walter Craft Caesar Classic
From the brand known for its small batch Caesar mix, this sippable can delivers well-balanced, classic flavour.
Matt & Steve’s Caesar Hot & Spicy
A shot of Extreme Bean brine gives this can a boost of tart tang, while a pinch of cayenne adds a spicy kick.
Mott’s Clamato Caesar Sriracha
A bold blend of seven spices makes this can a perfect option for those who like a Caesar with a punch.
Life Raft Caesar
With low sodium and a triple-distilled vodka base, this can is a better-for-you choice that doesn’t compromise on big flavour.
Absolut Lime Vodka
Bring out the Caesar’s citrusy notes with this lime-flavoured vodka.
Chopin Potato Vodka
"Potato-based vodkas have a fuller body than their wheat-based counterparts, helping them to stand out more prominently from the Caesar’s other strong flavours.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
With a smooth finish and hints of citrus, Tito’s is an affordable go-to for those who enjoy a classic Caesar taste profile.
This Canadian-made vodka’s notes of white pepper and spice will enhance your Caesar’s savoury flavours.
One of the many reasons Canadians love the Caesar is its versatility. You can tweak almost every element of the basic recipe, right down to the spirit base.
The botanical flavours of gin can add pleasant layers of complexity to your Caesar. Opt for a citrus-forward gin like Romeo’s or Tanqueray to bring a zesty, refreshing element to your drink. Take a cue from the Red Snapper, a cocktail cousin of the Caesar, and add a little lemon juice to further enhance the citrus notes.
Use beer to play with a Caesar’s similarity to a Michelada, a Mexican drink made with lime, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and, often, tomato juice. A pilsner or lager, such as Mexican Corona Extra, works best. You’ll want to use about twice as much beer as you would a spirit base like vodka.
Tequila is a good option if you like your Caesar to have big, bold flavour. Try a blanco tequila like Espolòn Tequila Blanco. It intensifi es the Caesar’s spicy, vegetal notes with its complementary flavours, while also adding a smoky depth to your cocktail.
Pour some rim spice onto a plate or into a shallow bowl. Moisten your glass’s rim by sliding a wedge of lime around its full circumference. Dip the rim into the pile of spice, pressing down as if the glass rim has ink on it and you’re trying to stamp a circle into the spice. You can also lightly twist the glass to pick up more spice. Play with different spice rims for variety.
A Mexican seasoning made with chili powder, salt and dehydrated lime
Celery salt mixed with freshly ground black pepper
Montreal steak spice
A blend that usually includes garlic, coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper flakes, dill seed and salt
Caesars are known for their anything-goes garnishes, with restaurants across Canada finishing their cocktails with accoutrements from cheeseburgers to whole lobster tails. The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started. (Hint: You can also combine all three!)
There’s something magical about pairing the salty flavours of pickled veggies with a Caesar’s rich clam-tomato base. Try finishing your drink with pickled onions, green beans, asparagus, peppers or anything else that will add that briny kick.
Shrimp cocktail is a popular appetizer for good reason. The same combination of freshness and acidity that makes shrimp go beautifully with a tomato-based cocktail sauce also makes jumbo prawns a natural match for the clam-tomato juice in a Caesar.
Pair the beloved brunch cocktail with foods you might find on your morning plate, such as bacon—peameal, candied or crispy strips all work well—or play up the breakfast theme further by adding a boiled egg skewer.