It doesn’t sound like a particularly obvious combination — who would have thought that a combination of vodka, clam-spiked tomato juice and spices, garnished with a celery stick and a celery salt rim would become a symbol of Canada’s national identity? In 2019, the Caesar, a drink invented right here in Calgary, marks its 50th anniversary and its popularity only seems to be growing.
Best Caesars in Calgary
Best Caesars in Calgary
Get the Original Caesar at the Westin
What inspired Chell to create this spicy and surprisingly nourishing clam-flavoured beverage? Some say that he wanted to celebrate the opening of the hotel’s new Italian restaurant with a drink that mimicked his favourite pasta dish, Spaghetti Vongole; others claim that he was trying to win a contest being held by Mott’s. Either way, Chell’s stroke of genius wasn’t the first Clamato-based cocktail on the market, but it is the one that stuck and became a Canadian brunch-time standard. In fact, the Caesar is such a favourite across the county that Parliament declared it Canada’s Official Cocktail in 2009.
That said, many local restaurants offer modernized Caesars, riffing on Chell’s original recipe in weird and wonderful ways.
Below are some top spots to hit if you’re planning your very own Caesar crawl once you’ve tried the original and its birthplace.
The Shin Ramen Caesar at Anju
In step with the rest of its wildly creative Korean-inspired food and drink menu, Anju’s Caesar barely resembles the traditional Westin recipe. The Shin Ramen Caesar is made with Irish whiskey, the obligatory Clamato, a squeeze of lime and garnished with a cascade of ramen noodles making their way down the side of the glass. Slurping is definitely encouraged.
Weekend Brunch Caesar at The Beltliner
Burwood Caesar at Burwood Distillery
Caesar Stack at Cleaver
FC Cesar at Foreign Concept
The Guild Caesar at The Guild
H&A Caesar at Home and Away
K / H Caesar at Klein/Harris
NTNL Caesar at National
Rodney’s Classic Caesar at Rodney’s Oyster House
A cocktail made with clam broth practically begs for a seafood garnish — unsurprisingly, the bar at Rodney’s Oyster House is happy to pile it on. Rodney’s Classic Caesar is spiked with horseradish and garnished with a juicy shrimp.
If these spots aren’t in your plans, the vast majority of restaurants and bars in Calgary have a bottle of Clamato stashed behind the bar and will happily whip up a Caesar any time of day. Be sure to ask for it extra spicy and don’t forget to eat your garnish!