Canadian Caesar Cocktail: The Ultimate Recipe Guide

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: July 2, 2024
  • Time to read: 4 min.

The Caesar, often called the Bloody Caesar, is celebrated as a Canadian creation. Its roots trace back to 1969, when Walter Chell, a bartender at the Calgary Inn, invented the drink for the opening of Marco’s Italian Restaurant. Drawing inspiration from a classic Italian dish, Chell combined vodka, tomato juice, clam juice, and various seasonings to form what would become an iconic cocktail.

Chell’s process of developing the drink involved meticulous experimentation over three months. He aimed to blend the clam and tomato flavours harmoniously with the alcohol and seasonings. The end result was a distinctive cocktail, which was reportedly named the Bloody Caesar by a British man who tasted it and exclaimed its excellence.

Key Ingredients

A typical Caesar includes:

  • Vodka: The base alcohol.
  • Clamato: A blend of clam and tomato juice.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Adds a savoury flavour.
  • Hot Sauce: Provides a bit of heat.
  • Lime: For a citrusy touch.
  • Celery Salt: Often used to rim the glass.
  • Garnishes: Celery stalk, lime wedge, and sometimes green olives or pickled asparagus.


The process to make a Caesar involves several steps:

  1. Rimming the Glass: Wet the rim with a lime wedge, then dip it in celery salt.
  2. Adding Ice: Fill the glass halfway with ice.
  3. Mixing Ingredients: Pour in vodka, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and Clamato.
  4. Garnishing: Top with a celery stalk, lime wedge, or other garnishes.

Popularity and Cultural Impact

Initially popular in Calgary, the drink quickly spread nationwide. By the 1970s, it had become a staple in business lunches and social gatherings across Canada. The introduction of Mott’s Clamato in 1969 made the cocktail even more accessible. Today, the Caesar is Canada’s national cocktail, with millions consumed each month.

Modern Variations

Over the years, many variations of the Caesar have emerged. Creativity in garnishing has led to extravagant versions that include:

  • Spring Rolls
  • Roast Chicken
  • Bacon Bits
  • Tacos

These inventive twists maintain the traditional flavours while adding unique culinary experiences.

Controversies and Alternate Origins

Despite its Canadian pride, there are claims and controversies surrounding the Caesar’s true origins. Before Chell’s creation, similar clam—and tomato-based drinks had existed in the United States. An example is the Clamdigger, popularized in the 1960s, closely resembling Caesar.

Moreover, other stories suggest that another employee at the Calgary Inn might have been the original creator. These differing accounts add mystery to the cocktail’s history, but none have diminished its status as a Canadian symbol.

Legacy and Influence

Today, the Caesar remains a defining element of Canadian culture. Various brands have tried to enter the market, but Mott’s Clamato continues to dominate, holding a staggering 95% of the market share. Canadians consume millions of Caesars each month, showcasing the drink’s unparalleled popularity.

The nation’s affection for the Caesar extends to recognizing it with its own day. National Caesar Day celebrates the drink annually, featuring events and promotions across the country.


The Caesar, with its unique blend of flavors and rich history, stands as a testament to Canadian ingenuity and culture. From its creation by Walter Chell to its status as a beloved national cocktail, the Caesar continues to inspire and unite Canadians through their love of this distinctive drink.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the essential ingredients for a traditional Canadian Caesar cocktail?

To make a classic Canadian Caesar cocktail, you need vodka, Clamato juice (a mix of clam and tomato juices), Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce (such as Tabasco), and celery salt. Lime is also used for garnishing, and you can add a celery stick or other pickles like pickled asparagus.

How do you make a classic Canadian Caesar cocktail at home?

  1. Rim the Glass: Use a lime wedge to wet the rim of a highball glass. Dip the rim into celery salt.
  2. Add Ingredients: Fill the glass with ice cubes, then add vodka, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to taste.
  3. Top it Off: Pour in Clamato juice and stir gently.
  4. Garnish and Serve: Garnish with a lime wedge, a celery stick, or pickles like green olives or pickled beans. Serve immediately.

What distinguishes a Canadian Caesar cocktail from a Bloody Mary?

The key difference between a Canadian Caesar cocktail and a Bloody Mary is the base juice. A Caesar uses Clamato juice, which is a blend of clam and tomato juices, whereas a Bloody Mary uses straight tomato juice. This gives the Caesar a distinct, briny flavor that sets it apart.

What variations can you apply to a basic Canadian Caesar cocktail recipe?

There are several ways to tweak a traditional Caesar cocktail:

  • Spicy Version: Increase the amount of hot sauce or add a pepper-infused vodka.
  • Pickle Brine: Add a splash of pickle brine for extra tang.
  • Garnishes: Change up the garnishes with options like pickled beans, asparagus, or bacon strips.
  • Flavoured Salts: Use different flavoured salts for the rim, such as smoked salt or Old Bay seasoning.

Can you substitute gin for vodka in a Canadian Caesar cocktail?

Yes, you can substitute gin for vodka in a Canadian Caesar cocktail. This will give the cocktail a different botanical flavour profile, which some may find more complex and interesting.

What makes the Canadian Caesar cocktail a popular choice in Canada?

The Canadian Caesar cocktail is popular because of its unique and savoury flavour. Created in 1969 by bartender Walter Chell in Calgary, Alberta, the Caesar quickly became a beloved choice for its mix of Clamato juice and other savoury ingredients. It is enjoyed both at home and in bars, making it a staple in Canadian cocktail culture.