On May 14, Canadians celebrated the first-ever holiday commemorating Calgary’s possible role in creating what some consider Canada’s national adult beverage: the Caesar.
Word spread about the day on social media with #NationalCaesarDay and the holiday’s own website, where there was speculation about the drink’s origin. According to the website, the most popular theory is that Calgarian barman Walter Chell developed the first recipe. Considering Chell’s Italian background, it’s believed that the drink was inspired by the flavours of spaghetti alle vongole, a traditional clam pasta.
Wherever the origin, the beverage continues to be enjoyed by Canadians coast to coast. The classic drink is made with vodka, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, clam juice, salt and pepper, set apart from a Bloody Mary by the clam juice. Technomic’s MenuMonitor shows that Caesar and Bloody Mary drinks are popping up more on Canadian menus, rising nearly 4% from the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015. In that same time, 10% more operators have added the drink to their menus.
To celebrate the holiday, some operators offered contests tied to the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, encouraging people to share photos of their Caesars. The social-media push highlighted some more interesting Caesars, including the contest winner from MR MIKES SteakhouseCasual that features a mini Mikeburger as a garnish.
Some operators are putting their own twists on the Canadian favourite—infusing vodka or even using tequila or gin instead—while others call out specific ingredient brands to entice guests with the familiarity of a certain brand of vodka or clam juice.
Here are some examples of Caesars that have been recently added to menus, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor:
- Applebee’s added three different Caesars: BBQ, Bourbon Street and Chipotle Bacon, each with a flavour twist on the classic. The Chipotle Bacon Caesar is garnished with a bacon-wrapped green bean.
- Prime Pubs menus a Caesar that uses its own bacon-infused Smirnoff vodka. Another option is the Habanero Lime and Cucumber Bloody Caesar with Tanqueray gin, cucumber, Mott’s clamato juice and habanero-infused lime juice.
- Montana’s Cookhouse offers guests a build-your-own Caesar within its Smokin’ Caesar offerings; customers choose a rimming spice, spirit, garnish and the level of heat.
- Louis Bar & Grill’s W.T.F Caesar combines clamato juice with Tito’s Handcrafted vodka and the restaurant’s own Hotter Than Hell wing sauce, topped off with a chicken wing garnish.
- Turtle Jack’s Muskoka Grill offers several Caesars, including the Cool Cucumber Caesar with Gordon’s Dry Gin, muddled cucumber, clamato and spices, a housemade lemon dill rim and a cucumber spear.