Ditch The Bloody Mary And Order A Caesar Drink At Brunch

In America, the bloody mary is a brunch-time favorite — but in Canada, its elevated sister, the Caesar, reigns supreme. The Caesar is more than just a Canadian take, however; it's the recipe evolved — sharing almost all the same ingredients and adding in a few more pops of flavor. 

Whereas a classic bloody mary is made with tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, and pepper, the Caesar is nearly the same, but swaps the tomato juice out for Clamato — the clam-and-tomato combo that also helps turn Mexican beer into a Michelada cocktail. Because Clamato is thinner than pure tomato juice, the relative mildness and pleasant brine allow for other cocktail flavors to shine through. The Canadian take also calls for celery salt, which has a grassier, more peppery flair. 

The Caesar was born in 1969 in a hotel bar, named for its creator's Italian heritage. The drink soon became a source of Canadian pride, and even children are treated to virgin iterations of the beloved refreshment at family gatherings. On the other hand, the bloody mary recipe precedes the Caesar's, but its exact origins are up for debate. One story traces its inception to 1921, when a bartender named Fernand Petiot mixed the drink for Ernest Hemingway at Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Named for a woman named Mary that Hemingway was seeing, it's said the potent tomato juice was intended to disguise the smell of booze.

The birth of Canada's national cocktail

The legend of the Caesar begins at the Calgary Inn, where Walter Chell was tasked with concocting a signature drink for the opening of the venue's new Italian restaurant. The story goes that Chell was inspired by a clammy pasta dish, 'spaghetti alle vongole.' After mashing clams and mixing their briny nectar with tomato juice, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, and vodka, he served up the now-infamous Caesar. Over time, the cocktail has become a proud Canadian standard, celebrated every May on National Caesar Day.

Just as the classic bloody mary has had many makeovers with tasty toppings and twists, countless variations of the traditional Caesar have cropped up over the years. Olives, bacon, and pickled green beans are common garnishes, but seafood lovers dial up the ocean influence by adding shrimp and even crab claws, too. Some crafty mixologists swap out the standard vodka for something a little more robust, like gin or tequila. 

Caesars are a rare find outside of Canada, so if you're given the chance to be in the Great White North, opt for the novelty of this national cocktail. One thing's for sure: the Caesar is an endlessly versatile drink that can be adapted to suit almost any taste. Even the most steadfast bloody mary fanatics would be hard-pressed to deny the charm of this salty, savory sip of Canadian culture.