Canadians have long embraced the Caesar cocktail, be it as part of a boozy brunch or as a refresher at a summer backyard barbeque. The classic Caesar is a combination of vodka, Clamato, lime, Worcestershire sauce and a stalk of celery, with hot sauce also making its way into most standard Caesars. It’s essentially the Canadian version of the Bloody Mary — invented in Calgary in 1969, the Caesar is much more prevalent in this country than the clam-free tomato juice cocktails you’ll find in the United States.
While that classic Caesar is just fine, the versatility of tomato juice (even with that extra hit of clam) makes the Caesar the perfect candidate for variations of all kinds, be they sweet, savoury, or extra-spicy. Most of us have seen tricked-out Caesars in restaurants with anything from chicken wings and grilled cheese sandwiches to oysters and shrimp (to complement the clam, of course) as garnishes, but here are a few variations that you can try at home:
- Pickle juice
Pickles aren’t a rarity on a Caesar as a garnish, but you can jack up the pickle flavour if you add pickle brine directly to the drink. Add a half ounce of pickle juice (or more if you like it extra pickle-y) to a classic Caesar and then make it spicy with a generous dollop of hot horseradish (don’t use creamy horseradish — it’ll make your drink look pink and milky) and a couple of dashes of your favourite hot sauce. Garnish with a big garlicky dill pickle.
We often think spicy when it comes to Caesars, but a little bit of sweetness can work too. Citrus goes well with a Caesar — squeeze a little bit of orange juice into a spicy Caesar and garnish with an orange wheel for a citrus boost. Berries also make a good addition as a garnish; if you can’t picture it, think about how well berries go in a fresh tomato salad. Mango, another fruit that goes well with spice, also works well. Puree half a mango and mix it right into your Caesar, garnishing with a mango wedge if you’d like.
Typical Thai ingredients work perfectly with the tomato and fishiness of a classic Caesar. Experiment with cilantro, fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, lemongrass, or Thai basil. Search for recipes online, or try to recreate the flavours from your favourite Thai dish on your own. It may be a bit hit and miss, but you’ll have fun testing out different concoctions.