Updated: Sep 26, 2018
All hail mighty Caesar!
...But only in Canada!!??
The Caesar cocktail is one of Canada’s greatest contributions to world cuisine—that is, it would be if it were better known! For some reason, the Caesar has become known as the “Canadian cousin” of the Bloody Mary, and is really only served north of the U.S. - Canada border. This utterly baffles us! Why on earth isn’t the Caesar more popular in countries outside of Canada? Why hasn’t it caught on?
Even if we haven’t been trying to keep it quiet, in many ways the Caesar still seems to be one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. Here are four reasons why we believe the Caesar should grow in popularity around the world!
1. It’s a “Better” Version of the Bloody Mary
Look, we aren’t trying to slam the American Bloody Mary. It’s a fine cocktail. It’s just that the Caesar raises the bar to an even higher level of deliciousness and satisfaction. Everything that a Bloody Mary offers the taste buds, the Caesar meets and exceeds.
A Caesar has a sophisticated depth of flavour that goes beyond just tomato juice, vodka, and some seasoning. With the inclusion of clam broth, the Caesar invites in the complexity of ocean waves and a sea breeze—simply a breath of fresh air! Heck, a Caesar is even more nutritious than a Bloody Mary, as you get a hit of protein from the inclusion of clam.
...and that might just be the problem.
We suspect the sticking point for most Americans is the “clamato” juice. Putting clam juice into a cocktail seems, we admit, kind of bizarre. Some Canadians who love the stuff (and we DO) are still sort of weirded out by the idea when they think too hard about it. “Hmm, I’m drinking clam juice?” There’s just nothing particularly appetizing about the words “clam” and “juice” when put side by side.
Yet it totally works!
The reality is that when a non-Canadian is given a Caesar cocktail with no real knowledge that it’s made with Clamato juice, they usually say, “That’s the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had!”
2. Caesars are Rich in Umami
What are the basic tastes of a Caesar? Sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, and sourness, right? And the Caesar has all of those in spades, but it also has something else. It has a healthy dose of the mythic “fifth” basic taste sensation that’s celebrated in many Asian countries and cuisines: umami.
Umami basically translates to “savouriness” or “deliciousness”. It’s a sort of meaty flavour that you can find in many Asian condiments like soy sauce. The savouriness comes from the taste buds reacting to glutamate, an amino acid. You can find glutamate in both tomatoes and clams, the two most prominent ingredients that go into a Caesar. This is one of the main reasons why a Caesar has such depth of taste when compared to a Bloody Mary. There’s just much more going on!
Knowing this, we think that the Caesar should become more popular in cultures that readily recognize umami as one of the five basic tastes. I mean, really, when we think “Caesar”, we already think “delicious”. So why shouldn’t we also think “umami”?
3. European Inspiration
Are you aware of the origins of the Caesar? It was originally created in a Calgary bar back in 1969 by Walter Chell, a European immigrant, for the opening of a new Italian restaurant named Marco’s Italian Restaurant.
Mr. Walter Chell was born in Montenegro, grew up in an Italian orphanage, and worked in the hotel industry in Switzerland before he immigrated to Canada. He spoke seven languages and had an international eye that was unique to Calgary at that time. Inspired by one of his favourite Italian dishes, Spaghetti Alle Vongole (spaghetti with tomato sauce and clams), he spent months perfecting the cocktail recipe that would eventually become the Caesar. The final cocktail included fresh tomato juice, hand-mashed clams, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. It was garnished with a celery stalk as the finishing touch. (And by the way, he named it the Bloody Caesar in reference to the bloody murder of Julius Caesar.)
Multiculturalism is Canada’s pride. It’s an essential part of the fabric of our country. Walter Chell’s European background and tastes inspired the Caesar, which is why we’re sure the cocktail would be a huge hit in Europe. Its flavours are directly inspired by way of Italy, with a healthy hit of Canadian multiculturalism!
4. Savoury Rather Than Sweet!
Let’s face it, most cocktails are pretty much the equivalent to a dessert. The Caesar is such a refreshing change from the usual sweet concoction. When you’re in a salty mood and you just don’t feel like a fruity cocktail, your choices are few and far between. The salty, tangy, spicy combination of tomatoes, clam juice, spices, and often some sort of hot sauce make the Caesar one of the very few options for anyone who is craving a more savoury accompaniment to their meal—or a beverage that drinks like a meal itself. That’s also one of the reasons why Caesars are such a great hangover cure and the perfect beverage for bunch!
More importantly, the savoury flavour of a Caesar has inspired one of the best food crazes of all time: fancy food piled right on top of the cocktail in crazy, creative, and delicious ways! Whether it’s sporting a bacon stir stick, a slider on a skewer, a melty grilled cheese sandwich, or an entire breakfast kebob, the Caesar becomes so much more than just a cocktail. Now that’s a food trend we can get behind! As a result, the Caesar is now one of the most important, innovative, and fun items that you’ll find on a menu at all the best Canadian bars and restaurants.
Are You Convinced?
Should the Caesar be more popular throughout the world? Ab-so-lutely. And someday, it just might be! Canadians who love the Caesar cocktail make the best ambassadors for the drink. Despite the occasional disgusted reaction to the word “clamato”, we suspect that knowledge of our beloved national drink will continue to grow the world over for the next several decades.