Updated: Oct 18, 2018
What’s your favourite holiday?
Christmas? Hallowe’en? Valentine’s Day?
Sure, those are great holidays to celebrate, but if anyone ever asked us our favourite day of the year, we’d instantly respond “National Caesar Day!”
Held on the Thursday that falls before the Victoria Day long weekend, this year’s festivities will fall on May 17th. This will be the 3rd annual National Caesar Day and we absolutely can’t wait!
For some people—ourselves definitely included—National Caesar Day is second only to Canada Day as the date to celebrate what makes us all uniquely Canadian. And we’d argue that there is nothing more uniquely Canadian than the Caesar cocktail! Also known by confused Americans as “the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had!”, the Caesar is purely Canadian. With its salty, savoury goodness, alcoholic base, spice rimmed glass, colour (with a “u”) as red as our flag—all topped with the wildest garnishes you can imagine, we’re getting ready to raise a glass and say “eh” to this cocktail that drinks like a meal!
Our National Cocktail
Officially named Canada’s national cocktail by Parliament in 2010, the Caesar’s history goes back over 40 years.
The Caesar was invented in Calgary in 1969 by bartender Walter Chell. Walter was asked to create a signature cocktail for the opening of a new Italian restaurant located at the Calgary Inn (now the Westin) named Marco’s Italian Restaurant. Chell, a world-traveling European immigrant, was inspired to create a brand new cocktail based on his favourite Italian dish, Spaghetti Alle Vongole, a delicious savoury spaghetti dish served with fresh tomato sauce and clams. Canada is a nation of immigrants, so it only makes sense that our national cocktail would be developed by an immigrant inspired by Italian cuisine. The Caesar is multiculturalism in a glass!
Naming of the Bloody Caesar
There are a couple of conflicting stories about the name of the cocktail. As you may have suspected, with its bright red colour, the savoury drink makes reference to the bloody murder of Julius Caesar. However, there’s another prevailing story about a British tourist at the bar who exclaimed, “that's a bloody good Caesar!” We’re sure that the visiting bloke did help to solidify the name, but keep in mind that for him to have called it a “bloody good Caesar” in the first place, he would already had to have been familiar with the name “Caesar.” But we digress…
The Key Ingredient
The special ingredient that makes a Caesar a Caesar (and not just a plain old Bloody Mary) is the clam juice. It took Walter Chell months to hit the exact right mix of flavours to satisfy the Canadian palate, but once he did, in 1969, he had a huge hit on his hands. So much so, that Mott's Inc. followed his lead and started to produce Clamato juice later that same year. With Walter’s influence, the solo clam juice developed into the mix of tomato and clam juice to become Mott’s Clamato Juice.
When tomato and clam juices are mixed with excellent quality vodka (such as Crystal Head vodka), some spices, garnishes, and a healthy dollop of hot sauce, you end up with a drink that’s far more than the sum of its parts. This is especially true when the creation of a Caesar is placed in the hands of some of the most inventive bartenders, mixologists, and chefs in Canada.
Garnishes Matter! Piling insane amounts of garnishes on top of Caesars has borderline become a Canadian pastime. Some people may say that having a Caesar counts as having a meal, and that’s definitely true when your Caesar is topped with a hamburger, grilled cheese sandwich, lobster, or even Peking Duck!
How Can YOU Celebrate National Caesar Day?
There are so many exciting events all across the country to help you celebrate the national day of the Caesar! One great place to learn about Caesar events is the official Mott’s National Caesar Day site. There you’ll find participating bars coast-to-coast where you can celebrate National Caesar Day in style! Or you could have your own Caesar day celebrations at home and invite your friends over...with tons of different variations of the Caesar out there to try May 17th is the perfect day to indulge in your savoury—and adventurous—side!
Enter to Win
This year for National Caesar Day, Mott’s has partnered with Dan Akroyd, the legendary Canadian comedian of Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers fame for Dan 2.0 to create the official Caesar of National Caesar Day. It’s called the “Hot Head Caesar” and it was created with Aykroyd’s own Crystal Head vodka. He already has the beverage part of the recipe figured out, with a blend that includes fresh garlic, lime juice, Sriracha, Crystal Head vodka, and Mott’s Clamato… but there’s still one thing missing: the perfect garnish. This contest is super fun and that’s where you come in:
If you can come up with the winning garnish for the official Caesar of 2018, you might win a grand prize trip for two to Toronto, Ontario to meet and greet Dan Aykroyd! The trip includes round trip airfare, 3 nights hotel accommodations, transportation, and $500 CAD spending money. And that’s not all—there are also a number of secondary price packs that include everything you need to make the perfect Caesar. You can find more information about how to enter the “Dan Needs a Garnish” contest here.
The Caesar Is Just Getting Started!
Of course, National Caesar Day won’t be your only opportunity to celebrate Canada’s favourite cocktail this year. Just two months later, you won’t want to miss the Original Caesar Fest taking place in Toronto on July 22nd at the Fifth Social Club & Rooftop Terrace. There will be entertainment, delicious Caesars galore, gourmet food, and so much more! We can’t wait!