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Caesar (cocktail)

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Caesar made with 2 shots of vodka, a pinch of horseradish, a little spicy with 5 dashes of tabasco, made muddy with about 10 dashes of Worcestershire, all over ice, and filled to the top of a celery salt and spice rimmed glass with Clamato juice.
Base spirit
Servedon the rocks
Standard garnishstalk of celery and wedge of lime
Standard drinkware
Highball glass
Commonly used ingredients
  • 6 oz. Clamato Juice
  • 1–1+12 oz. vodka
  • 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • Celery salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Lime wedge
  • 1 crisp celery stalk
PreparationRim glass with celery salt, and a lime wedge.

A Caesar is a cocktail created and consumed primarily in Canada. It typically contains vodka, Clamato, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, and is served with ice in a large, celery salt-rimmed glass, typically garnished with a stalk of celery and wedge of lime.[1] What distinguishes it from a Bloody Mary is the inclusion of clam broth. The cocktail may also be contrasted with the Michelada, which has similar flavouring ingredients but uses beer instead of vodka. Festivals dedicated to the cocktail are held in many cities, with the largest in Calgary.[2] The first liquor store dedicated to the Caesar opened on July 1 2023 in Calgary, Alberta.[3]


'Bloody Mary a La Milo' in the 1951 Ted Saucier cocktail book titled 'Bottoms Up' (page 45), appears to be the first published cocktail recipe that includes vodka, tomato juice, clam juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Ted Saucier credits the recipe to Milo J. Sutliff, Publisher, New York. This pre-dates the version at the Polonaise nightclub in Manhattan by at least 2–3 years.[4]

The original cocktail of vodka with seasoned tomato and clam juice made its debut at the Polonaise nightclub in Manhattan in November 1953.[5] The drink was introduced as the "Smirnoff Smiler" by owner Paul Pawlowski.[6] In December 1953, columnist Walter Winchell reported that the drink was seasoned with "a dash of Wooooshhhtasheer Sauce".[7]

In 1959, cartoonist and creator of The Addams Family, Charles Addams (employed by the New Yorker magazine, a few blocks from the Polonaise nightclub in Manhattan) claimed he invented the "Gravel Gertie", a cocktail of clam/tomato juice and vodka seasoned with Tabasco sauce.[8]

In 1962, Carl La Marca, bar manager at the Baker Hotel in Dallas, invented the "Imperial Clam Digger", adding a basil garnish and dash of lime to an existing version of the "Smirnoff Smiler", called the "Clam Digger".[9]

In October 1968, Seagram president Victor Fischel and Mott's Clamato marketer Ray Anrig claimed to have invented the seasoned tomato/clam/vodka cocktail, the "Clamdigger" earlier in 1968, in Manhattan.[10] Seagram, headquartered 2 blocks from the Polonaise nightclub, filed a trademark application on the name "Clamdigger" claiming first use on May 31, 1968.[11] From late 1968 to the end of 1969, Seagram and Mott's ran a major advertising promotion of the "Clam Digger" cocktail recipe in national magazines.[12][13]

The Caesar was invented in 1969 by restaurant manager Walter Chell[14] of the Calgary Inn (today the Westin Hotel) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He devised the cocktail after being tasked to create a signature drink for the Calgary Inn's new Italian restaurant.[15] He mixed vodka with clam and tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, and other spices,[16] creating a drink similar to a Bloody Mary, but with a uniquely spicy flavour.[17]

Chell said his inspiration came from Italy. He recalled that in Venice, they served Spaghetti alle vongole, spaghetti with tomato sauce and clams. He reasoned that the mixture of clams and tomato sauce would make a good drink, and mashed clams to form a "nectar" that he mixed with other ingredients.[18]

According to Chell's granddaughter, his Italian ancestry led him to call the drink a "Caesar".[16] The longer name of "Bloody Caesar" is said to differentiate the drink from the Bloody Mary, but Chell said it was a regular patron at the bar who served as the inspiration. During the three months he spent working to perfect the drink, he had customers sample it and offer feedback. One regular customer, an Englishman, who often ordered the drink said one day, "Walter, that's a damn good bloody Caesar".[18]


Chell said the drink was an immediate hit with the restaurant's patrons, claiming it "took off like a rocket".[18] Within five years of its introduction, the Caesar had become Calgary's most popular mixed drink.[19] It spread throughout Western Canada, then to the east.[18] Coinciding with its 40th anniversary, a petition was launched in 2009 in the hopes of having the Caesar named the nation's official mixed drink.[20] In Calgary, Mayor Dave Bronconnier celebrated the drink's anniversary by declaring May 13, 2009 Caesar Day in the city.[21]

The Mott's company was independently developing Clamato, a mixture of clam and tomato juices, at the same time the Caesar was invented. Sales of Clamato were initially slow: Mott's sold only 500 cases of Clamato in 1970,[17] but sales consistently increased after the company's distributors discovered Chell's drink.[22] By 1994, 70% of Mott's Clamato sales in Canada were made to mix Caesars, while half of all Clamato sales were made in Western Canada.[18] Motts claims that the Caesar is the most popular mixed drink in Canada, estimating that over 350 million Caesars are consumed every year.[23]

In the United States, the Caesar is typically available at bars along the Canada–United States border.[18] Elsewhere, bartenders will frequently offer a Bloody Mary in its place.[24] In Europe, the drink can be found wherever there are higher concentrations of Canadians.[25] The drink's anonymity outside Canada has continued in spite of concerted marketing efforts.[22] Producers of clam-tomato juices have speculated that their beverages have been hampered by what they describe as the "clam barrier". They have found that consumers in the United States fear that there is too much clam in the beverages.[26]

While Mott's Clamato continues to be synonymous with the cocktail, other producers have begun offering alternative Caesar mixes. Walter Caesar (named in honor of Chell) was launched in 2013 to offer an 'all-natural' alternative to Clamato.[27] Walter Caesar also became the first Caesar mix in Canada to be approved by Ocean Wise by using ocean-friendly clam juice from the North Atlantic.[28]

The Caesar is popular as a hangover "cure",[29] though its effectiveness has been questioned.[30]

Mott's holds an annual "Best Caesar in Town" competition as part of the Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival.[31] Contests held across Canada to celebrate the cocktail's 40th anniversary in 2009 encouraged variants that featured the glass rimmed with Tim Hortons coffee grounds, Caesars with maple syrup, and Caesars with bacon-infused vodka.[24]


A petition was started to change the National Caesar Day to the Sunday of the May long weekend from the Thursday prior. The proponents and supporters of the petition claim that Caesar Sunday is more widely celebrated among Canadians, and that the original Thursday was chosen arbitrarily as a marketing campaign by Mott's, which is an American company and should not have been creating a Canadian "National" day of celebration in the first place.[32]


Basic preparation of a Caesar follows the "one, two, three, four" rule. The recipe calls for one 1.5-US-fluid-ounce (44 ml) shot of vodka, two dashes of hot sauce, three dashes of salt and pepper, four dashes of Worcestershire sauce and topped with 4–6 US fluid ounces (120–180 ml) of caesar mix and served with ice.[20] The ingredients are poured into a glass rimmed with celery salt or a mixture of salt and pepper and garnished with a celery stalk and lime.[24]

The Caesar is an unusual drink in that it can be mixed in bulk and stored for a period of time before drinking.[17]


Though it was not one of Chell's original ingredients, Tabasco sauce is a frequent addition,[18] as is horseradish.[17] Vodka is occasionally replaced with gin, tequila or rum, though the Clamato may not be substituted.[17] A variant that replaces vodka with beer is commonly called a "Red Eye",[23] "Clam Eye", or "Saskatchewan Caesar" and one without alcohol is a "Virgin Caesar".[33] The Toronto Institute of Bartending operates a "Caesar School" in various locations across Canada that teaches bartenders how to mix several variants of the drink.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robin Esrock (2017). The Great Canadian Bucket List: One-of-a-Kind Travel Experiences. Dundurn. p. 433. ISBN 978-1-4597-3940-6.
  2. ^ "YYC Caesar Fest". Calgary.
  3. ^ https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/caesar-shop-cocktail-calgary-1.6678143
  4. ^ 1951 Bloody Mary a La Milo (First Bloody Caesar In Disguise?) - Cocktails After Dark, retrieved 2022-12-30
  5. ^ Burden, Martin (1953-11-08). "Going Out Tonight?" (PDF). New York Post. p. 30.
  6. ^ Walker, Danton (1954-01-31). "Broadway". Daily News from New York. p. 99.
  7. ^ Winchell, Walter (1953-12-11). "On Broadway". The Terre Haute Tribune. p. 4.
  8. ^ "The Vodka Boom". Gentlemen's Quarterly. 1959. p. 144.
  9. ^ Mayabb, James E. (1962), "Imperial Clam Digger", International Cocktail Specialties, from Madison Avenue to Malaya, p. 46
  10. ^ "Pair of Salesmen Dreams Up New Drink", The Daily Telegram, p. 5, 1968-10-02
  11. ^ Patent Office, United States (1968), "SN300,411", Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office
  12. ^ "The "Clamdigger " Campaign", CSA Super Markets, 1968
  13. ^ "Discover The Wolfschmidt Clamdigger Made With Clamato", Life, 1969-12-06
  14. ^ "About Mott's". Mott's Clamato Caesar.
  15. ^ "History of Clamato". Motts LLP. Archived from the original on 2014-10-30. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
  16. ^ a b "Calgary's Bloody Caesar hailed as nation's favourite cocktail". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
  17. ^ a b c d e Harrington, Paul; Moorhead, Laura (1998). Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century. Viking Penguin. pp. 68–69. ISBN 0-670-88022-1.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g Naccarato, Michael (1994-05-11). "Bloody Caesar Canada's cocktail It was invented 25 years ago in Calgary and 'took off like a rocket'". Toronto Star. p. C3.
  19. ^ Haeseker, Fred (1974-12-31). "Alberta drinkers take whisky first, vodka second". Calgary Herald. p. 26. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
  20. ^ a b Graveland, Bill (2009-05-14). "We stand on guard -- for our favourite cocktail". Winnipeg Free Press. p. A2. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
  21. ^ Doody, Kelly (2009-05-14). "Page Six". Calgary Sun. p. 6.
  22. ^ a b Lazarus, George (1978-06-30). "Clamato and vodka: 'the best bloody drink in town'". Chicago Tribune. p. E9.
  23. ^ a b Lau, Andree (2009-05-14). "Hail Caesar!". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
  24. ^ a b c Remington, Robert (2009-05-13). "Spicy beverage still causing a stir". Calgary Herald. p. A1, A6.
  25. ^ Byrne, Ciara (2009-03-12). "A Caesar celebration: Saucy Canadian cocktail hits the big 4-0". Fort Frances Times. Archived from the original on 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
  26. ^ Thompson, Stephanie (1998-01-19). "Brand builders: juicing Clamato sales - Motts USA does marketing research to boost Clamato sales". Brandweek. CBS Business Network. Retrieved 2011-03-26..
  27. ^ "Cocktail Fans Build a Better Caesar..." The Globe and Mail. 2016-07-11. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  28. ^ "Walter Caesar Now Ocean Wise Approved". 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-11-27. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  29. ^ "Bloody good hangover cure". Toronto Star. 2004-04-10. p. H13.
  30. ^ Haggarty, Elizabeth (2011-01-18). "The two most effective ingredients to treat a hangover". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
  31. ^ "Mott's Clamato Best Caesar in Town Contest". Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival. Archived from the original on 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
  32. ^ "National Caesar Day Should Be SUNDAY! Sign The Petition!". canadasnationalcocktail.ca.
  33. ^ "Alcohol and nutrition". Government of Ontario. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
  34. ^ "Caesar School". Toronto Institute of Bartending. Archived from the original on 2011-03-16. Retrieved 2011-03-26.