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Watch your back, Bloody Mary...

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You've probably heard of the infamous Bloody Mary — but what about its counterpart, the Bloody Caesar? 

The Bloody Caesar is Canada's version of the Bloody Mary. It was first crafted by Walter Chell in Calgary, Alberta in 1969. A restaurant manager at the Calgary Inn (now known as the Westin Hotel), Chell was tasked with creating a new signature drink for the Inn's new Italian restaurant. The concoction that would become the Bloody Caesar was inspired by the Italian dish, Spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams). Chell mashed clams to form a "nectar" that he mixed with tomato juice. He combined this with vodka, Worcestershire sauce, and other spices; garnished it with a celery stick, and a taste sensation was born.

According to Chell's granddaughter, the drink's name was derived from his Italian roots. The addition of the 'Bloody' moniker was inspired by an Englishman, who was a regular patron and Caesar drinker, who reportedly said "Walter, that's a damn good Bloody Caesar!"

Canadians today indulge on hundreds of millions of these bloody cocktails each year. Yet, outside of Canada, the Bloody Caesar is virtually unknown, usually only available at bars near the Canadian border or in areas with higher concentrations of Canadians.

I've never been a fan of Bloody Mary's, but I figured it was a right of passage as a Canadian to at least give this unofficial official drink of Canada a try. While at Banff Avenue Brewing in Banff, Alberta last summer, I mentioned to our beertender that I had never had a Bloody Caesar before, and just like that, he whipped up a non-alcoholic version for me and gave it to me on the house. It may have been sans vodka, but it still made me a believer.

So what makes a Bloody Caesar special (and in this girl's opinion, better than the Bloody Mary)? Rather than the signature tomato juice base of the Bloody Mary, the Bloody Caesar is anchored by that blend of clam juice and tomato juice, now typically known as Clamato juice. Bloody Caesars are also characteristically spicy, and I like to kick it up a notch further by using the picante flavored Clamato juice and pepperoncini juice, in addition to the standard Tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

There are numerous recipe variations, from spice level to infused liquors to choice of garnish, but here's my take on this Canadian specialty:

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz Clamato tomato cocktail (I prefer the picante version for a little extra heat.)
  • 3 oz vodka
  • 3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tsp lime juice, plus a lime wedge for garnish
  • Smoked sea salt or celery salt to garnish the rim of the glass
  • 1 tsp pepperoncini juice, plus one whole pepperoncini for garnish
  • 1 celery stalk with leaves for garnish
  • Ice
  • Optional Garnishes — Pickles, Pepperoni/Beef Sticks, Shrimp, Green Beans

 

Directions:

  1. Place a small amount of the smoked sea salt or celery salt on a small plate, wet the rim of your glass with the lime wedge, and then swirl the rim around on the plate of salt until the rim is coated.
  2. Fill your glass halfway with ice, and then add the Clamato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, pepperoncini juice, lime juice, and a pinch of the salt used to coat the rim of your glass.
  3. Stir, and then garnish with the lime wedge, celery stalk, pepperoncini, and/or other garnishes of your choosing.
  4. Enjoy your salty concoction!
Next time you're craving a savory brunch cocktail, give a Bloody Caesar a shot!
"The Bloody Mary is dead: All hail the Bloody Caesar"
❤🍅

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