Skip to main content

The Caesar: Dinner in a Glass

Embarking on a flavorful journey through Canadian mixology, we uncover the storied past and vibrant present of one of the nation's most cherished concoctions—the Caesar cocktail. Revered not just as a beverage but as a cultural emblem, the Caesar is a testament to Canada's creative spirit and love for hearty, convivial gatherings. As we delve into the history of this beloved drink, its adaptable spirit variations, and its delectable pairings, we invite you to raise a glass to the Caesar, a true North American classic that has captured the hearts and palates of Canadians coast to coast.

The Caesar cocktail was invented in 1969 by Walter Chell in Calgary, Alberta. Chell created this iconic beverage to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant at the Calgary Inn, now known as the Westin Hotel. The inspiration for the drink came from the classic Italian dish, spaghetti alle vongole, which is pasta with clams and tomato sauce. Chell wanted the drink to capture the essence of this dish, so he spent about three months perfecting the recipe. The drink quickly became a national cultural icon in Canada, with more than 400 million Caesars consumed annually across the country. Despite its immense popularity in Canada, the Caesar has not reached a similar level of fame internationally.

Cultural Significance of the Caesar

The Caesar's creation in 1969 coincides with a time of cultural awakening in Canada, where there was a surge of interest in national identity and pride. The Caesar quickly became a symbol of Canadian innovation in the culinary world, often associated with patriotism and cultural heritage. It's a staple during national celebrations like Canada Day and has been embraced as a quintessential part of the Canadian brunch experience, often rivaling the popularity of mimosas and bellinis.

Regional Variations Across Canada

While the Caesar has a standard recipe, it has been adapted regionally across Canada to reflect local flavors and preferences. For instance, in coastal regions like British Columbia, it's not uncommon to find Caesars garnished with fresh seafood such as shrimp or crab. In the Prairies, you might find a spicier version with added hot sauces and a steak spice rim. Quebec often sees the addition of local ingredients like smoked meat as a garnish, paying homage to the province's culinary traditions.

The Classic Caesar Recipe

A classic Caesar recipe serves as the foundation for countless variations. Here's a detailed recipe:


  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • 4 oz Caesar mix (tomato and clam juice)
  • 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • Celery salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Lime wedge
  • 1 celery stick
  • Ice cubes


  1. Rim a highball glass with lime and celery salt.
  2. Fill the glass with ice cubes.
  3. Add vodka, Caesar mix, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Season with celery salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  5. Stir well.
  6. Garnish with a celery stick and a lime wedge.

Popular Variations of the Caesar

The flexibility of the Caesar cocktail means that it can be personalized to suit any palate. Some popular variations include:

  • The Gin Caesar: Substitute vodka with gin for a botanical twist.
  • The Tequila Caesar: Use tequila instead of vodka for a Caesar with a Mexican flair.
  • The Bourbon Caesar: For a smokier, more complex flavor, bourbon can replace vodka.
  • The Virgin Caesar: Omit the alcohol for a non-alcoholic version that's just as satisfying.

Each variation can be further customized with a range of garnishes, from the traditional celery stick to more elaborate skewers of pickles, cheese, and even mini sandwiches.

The Caesar cocktail is not just a drink; it's a part of Canada's cultural fabric. It celebrates the country's creativity and regional diversity through its various interpretations. From its historical roots to its modern-day incarnations, the Caesar continues to be a beloved beverage that Canadians hold dear. Whether enjoyed in its classic form or with a unique twist, the Caesar is a testament to the nation's love for a good cocktail that not only quenches thirst but also sparks conversation and brings people together.