Canada doesn’t have an official national drink, but given that we drink more than 350 million of them a year, the Caesar certainly seems like the unofficial one.
Defining a national beverage is a difficult thing, but it follows that one of the main criteria should be its relative obscurity outside national lines. The Caesar certainly has this category in the bag: ask for one in the US—or pretty much anywhere else—and you’ll be served a blank stare.
It’s an especially curious twist of fate, given that the Caesar is based on Clamato juice—a blend of clam broth and tomato juice created by two American employees of Mott’s in 1966—and invented in Canada’s western prairie provinces. The generally accepted origin of the Caesar is that it was invented in Calgary in 1969 by bartender Walter Chell for the opening of Marco’s Italian restaurant (now the Westin Calgary). Supposedly, Chell was inspired by the flavours of Spaghetti Vongole, an Italian pasta dish of spaghetti with clams and tomatoes. However, others have rightly pointed out evidence that cocktails based on a blend of tomatoes and clam juice existed much earlier, including a recipe for one (albeit a non-alcoholic version) published in 1936 in a French volume called The Artistry of Mixing Drinks.
Regardless of its true derivation, there’s no denying that the Caesar is entrenched in the Canadian conscious. May 14 is National Caesar Day, and Mott’s has started a petition to make the Caesar our country’s official national cocktail. Countless bars and restaurants claim to have the best Caesar and innumerable variations exist, many of which are distinguished not so much by the contents inside the glass but by the the often outlandish garnishes perched atop it: a celery-salt rim, celery stalk and lime wedge are classic, but some have gone so far as to garnish their Caesars with everything from pepperoni sticks and pickles to an entire cheeseburger.
Central Social Hall has had a bacon Caesar on the menu for well over a year, which will be the feature drink at the upcoming BaconFest YEG. They use Bakon, a bacon-infused vodka, and accordingly garnish the drink with a rim of bacon bits and a piece of maple-glazed bacon. They’ve shared their recipe below, because the secret to a good Caesar isn’t some arcane list of ingredients but simply knowing how to properly spice it. Experiment away.
Recipe courtesy of Central Social Hall
1 oz Bakon vodka
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
4 oz Clamato juice
Strip of maple-glazed bacon
First rim the glass: finely chop the cooked bacon, sprinkle onto a small plate and set aside. Pour a small amount of maple syrup evenly onto another small plate (tea saucers work great). Place a highball glass upside down on the syrup to coat the rim, then place onto the plate of bacon bits and dab to coat the rim evenly.
Set the glass right-side up, add ice and the remaining ingredients, then top with Clamato juice and stir well. Garnish with a strip of maple-glazed bacon. V