The famed Canadian cocktail is breaking free of the border and gaining fans around the world.
By: Eve Thomas
The year is 1969. The place: Calgary, Canada. The bartender at a new Italian restaurant is tasked with creating a standout signature cocktail, so he draws inspiration from the menu and, a few crushed clams later, transforms a simple Bloody Mary into the Bloody Caesar, a spicy, savory drink that will sweep the nation for decades to come... but draw confused stares when ordered beyond the Canadian border.
Until now, that is. Slowly but surely, Canada’s unofficial national cocktail (more than 250 million are ordered yearly) is gaining popularity around the globe, from London, England, where gastropub Newman Street Tavern serves their Caesar up with an optional oyster, to New York, where Brooklyn Crab’s “Bloody Breuklen” comes with Clamato house mix and a salty-aired, harbor-side setting.
Back in Canada (including at Fairmont hotels across the country), the Caesar is such a mainstay that mixologists outdo one another with increasingly elaborate garnishes, from
turkey jerky to mini burgers. Order Joe Beef’s version (pictured) in Montreal and you’ll have to eat your way through seafood and celery before your first sip. Across the city at L’Gros Luxe, find Caesars topped with everything from onion rings to fried pickles.
For a high-end at-home version, spring for some Caesar mixer from Walter, a Canadian company that uses vine-ripened tomatoes, grated horseradish and clam juice from sustainable Atlantic fisheries. “It adds a slight brine and umami note,” says Walter co-founder Aaron Harowitz, who takes a bottle with him on his travels. “I’m always excited and even a little proud when I see Caesars south of the border. And when I introduce friends to them, they become converts.”