How The Bloody Caesar Became Canada's Most Loved Cocktail

When the Bloody Mary was created in Paris in the 1920s it was portrayed as a tomato juice cocktail but because of its unique balance between poison (vodka) and cure (tomato juice) it quickly rose to fame as an effective hangover cure. It spawned many variations and slowly spread across the world to achieve international fame and in 1969, The folks at The Calgary Inn in Calgary, Canada made their own unique mark on its history. 

Walter Chell, a bartender at the inn was asked to create a new and exciting cocktail to celebrate the opening of their new Italian restaurant, Marco’s. After much deliberation and three months of experimentation, Chell hit upon the perfect formula. He used the pasta dish Spaghetti Alle Vongole which was made with clams as the baseline for his new drink. 

Clams were mashed to produce a ‘clam nectar’ and this was mixed in with tomato juice and spices and of course vodka. He also added Worcestershire sauce, celery salt and in 1994, Chell revealed that the secret ingredient was a dash of oregano. He deemed the drink ‘The Caesar’ and decided to let some of their regular customers sample the new cocktail. After taking a sip, one Englishman exclaimed, “Walter, that’s a damn good bloody Caesar!” and the name stuck. After this it became the Bloody Caesar and quickly gained cult status and now is ordered more than 400 million times a year in Canada, though it failed to gain that sort of popularity elsewhere. 

It’s a popular lunchtime drink because it's lighter and more refreshing than the typical cocktail and it even has its own day which is celebrated on the 13th of May every year. This day is celebrated with aplomb and Caesar Fests, Caesar Crawls and toasts to the drink are raised nationwide. 

The recipe is always adapting depending on where you sample it with some people preferring to add a touch of heat with Tabasco or dialling down the clam juice but as long as you stick to the basics, you’re free to put your own spin on The Bloody Caesar. Though some may recoil at the idea of a seafood-laced cocktail, the Bloody Caesar has found the balance between tart and savoury, making this cocktail truly unique and beloved by all Canadians as their own homegrown creation.