All Hail, Caesar! Canadian Cocktail Invented in Calgary Turns 40

It's not a Caesar, but a Bloody Mary in Key West, Florida
Photo by Sue Frause
Forty years ago, bartender Walter Chell at the Owl’s Nest Bar in the Calgary Inn (now The Westin Calgary) invented the Caesar cocktail. The concoction celebrated the opening of a new restaurant called Marco’s.

The original Caesar cocktail recipe was similar to the Bloody Mary cocktail, with one major exception – clam juice was used instead of tomato sauce. A traditional Bloody Mary is made with tomato juice, vodka, tabasco sauce, worcestershire sauce, lime juice and seasonings. It's served in a salt-rimmed glass and garnished with a celery stick and lime wedge. Chell changed the Bloody Mary cocktail into a Caesar with the addition of mashed clams blended into the tomato juice. South of the border in the U.S., a cocktail that's similar to the Caesar is called a Clamdigger. Both recipes use tabasco sauce as a main ingredient.

Over the years, the Caesar cocktail has remained Canada’s top selling alcoholic cocktail beverage. It's been estimated that more than 250 million Caesars are sold each year in Canada. It's also known as a Bloody Caesar, Canadian Caesar or Salted Caesar.

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