Why do Canadians call it a Caesar?

Canadians have a proud tradition of doing things a little differently than their American neighbors. One of those quirky Canadianisms is calling a Bloody Mary a Caesar. This quintessential brunch and hangover drink has a unique history north of the border.

What is a Caesar?

A Caesar is the Canadian take on a Bloody Mary. It’s a cocktail made with vodka, clamato juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, celery salt, and pepper. The Caesar typically garnished with a celery stalk, lemon wedge, and lime wedge.

The main difference between a Caesar and a Bloody Mary is the clamato juice. While a Bloody Mary uses plain tomato juice, the Caesar uses a combination of tomato and clam juices. This gives the drink a saltier, briny flavor.

The Caesar was invented in Calgary, Alberta in 1969 by restaurateur Walter Chell. He wanted to create a signature cocktail for the opening of his new Italian restaurant, Marco’s. He experimented with mixing vodka and clamato juice, and the Caesar was born.

Chell said he named the drink after the great Roman emperor Julius Caesar because of its powerful, bold flavors. The name stuck, and the Caesar became a Canadian sensation.

How did the Caesar become popular in Canada?

After its invention in Calgary, the Caesar quickly spread across Western Canada. In the 1970s, Canada was experiencing a cocktail renaissance, and the Caesar fit right in with popular drinks like the Bloody Mary and mimosa.

The clamato juice gave the Caesar a unique flavor profile that distinguished it from other tomato juice cocktails. The combination of tomato and clam juice resulted in a drink that was salty, savory, and hearty.

In 1973, Mott’s acquired the rights to manufacture and distribute clamato juice. They launched an extensive marketing campaign promoting clamato drinks, especially the Caesar. This helped raise awareness of the Caesar across Canada.

By the 1980s, the Caesar had become a coast-to-coast phenomenon in Canada. Every restaurant offered it on their brunch and lunch menus. It became as ubiquitous as maple syrup and hockey.

Some key factors that contributed to the Caesar’s popularity:

  • Uniquely Canadian flavor profile from clamato juice
  • Marketing campaigns by Mott’s to promote clamato
  • Rise of brunch culture in Canada
  • Caesar’s reputation as a hangover cure

The Caesar cemented itself as a Canadian classic cocktail and a culinary symbol of national pride.

How do Canadians prepare and enjoy Caesars?

One of the great things about the Caesar is how customizable it is. While the basic formula is vodka, clamato, and spices, people get creative with garnishes and rims. Here are some of the popular ways Canadians prepare and enjoy Caesars:


  • Celery stalk
  • Slice of lime
  • Slice of lemon
  • Olives
  • Pickle
  • Bacon
  • Cheese curds
  • Shrimp
  • Pepperoni stick

The garnish can turn a basic Caesar into an over-the-top snack. Bacon and cheese curds are popular Caesar toppings.


Applying a flavored rim adds more texture and flavor. Some popular Caesar rims include:

  • Salt & pepper
  • Celery salt
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Montreal steak spice

The classic rim is a blend of coarse salt and pepper. Spicier seasonings like Cajun or Montreal steak spice can kick up the heat.

Mixing methods

Canadians take their Caesars very seriously and often have ritualistic methods for mixing them:

  • Using thick glass tumblers, like a pint glass
  • Adding ingredients in a specific order: vodka, clamato, dash of hot sauce, Worcestershire, spices
  • Seasoning the glass rim first before pouring in the drink
  • “Rolling” the Caesar gently to mix vs. shaking vigorously

This careful construction helps achieve the ideal balance of flavors and texture.

Where Canadians enjoy them

You can find Caesar’s everywhere in Canada, but they’re especially popular:

  • Brunch
  • Patio drinking
  • Cottage weekends
  • Hockey games
  • Holidays like Canada Day and Christmas

A Caesar tastes even better when enjoyed during classic Canadian pastimes like a lakefront cottage weekend or hockey night.

Caesar Cocktail Recipes

Want to mix up your own Caesar at home? Here are some popular recipe variations:

Basic Caesar

1.5 oz (45 ml) vodka
4 oz (120 ml) clamato juice
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes Tabasco
1/4 tsp celery salt
2 grinds of black pepper
1 celery stalk
1 lime wedge
  1. Rim a highball glass with celery salt and pepper
  2. Add vodka and clamato juice
  3. Add Worcestershire and Tabasco
  4. Season with celery salt and pepper
  5. Stir gently with a straw or spoon
  6. Garnish with celery and lime

Loaded Caesar

1.5 oz (45 ml) vodka
4 oz (120 ml) clamato juice
1 Tbsp (15g) prepared horseradish
3 dashes hot sauce
1 tsp (5g) brine from olive jar
1/2 tsp (3g) soy sauce
1/4 tsp (1g) garlic powder
1/8 tsp (0.5g) onion powder
1/8 tsp (0.5g) smoked paprika
1 celery stalk
1 lime wedge
  1. Rim glass with celery salt and pepper
  2. Add vodka and clamato
  3. Mix in remaining ingredients except garnishes
  4. Stir gently with a straw
  5. Garnish with celery, lime, olives, pepperoni, and bacon

Spicy Caesar

1.5 oz (45 ml) vodka
3 oz (90 ml) clamato juice
1 oz (30 ml) hot sauce
1 dash Worcestershire
1/4 tsp (1g) celery salt
1/4 tsp (1g) paprika
1/4 tsp (1g) chili powder
1 lime wedge
Cajun seasoned rim
  1. Rim glass with Cajun seasoning
  2. Add vodka, clamato, and hot sauce
  3. Season with Worcestershire, celery salt, paprika, and chili powder
  4. Stir gently with a straw
  5. Garnish with lime wedge

Caesars Across Canada

The Caesar spread from coast to coast, but you can still find regional variations. Here’s how Caesars differ in cities across Canada:


Vancouver Caesars often include:

  • Local seafood like salmon, spot prawns, or smoked oysters
  • Plenty of fresh horseradish
  • Latin flavors like jalapenos, hot sauce, chili salt rim

Thanks to Vancouver’s diverse population, you get multicultural influences in their Caesar game.


As the Caesar’s birthplace, Calgary does them in a classic style:

  • Strong focus on traditional garnishes like lime, celery, pepper
  • Use of thick pint glasses instead of tall highball glasses
  • Vodka is preferred over gin

Calgary keeps to the original recipe but upgrades to extra thick glasses.


Canada’s biggest city likes to go all out:

  • Garnishes galore – bacon strips, whole shrimp, pepperoni sticks
  • Unique rims – Cheetos dust, Montreal steak spice
  • Premium ingredients – artisanal vodkas, craft hot sauces

If it’s outrageous and instagrammable, you’ll find it on Toronto Caesar’s.


Ottawa Caesars highlight local ingredients:

  • Vodka from Ontario distilleries
  • Garnishes with Ottawa Valley meat – bacon, prosciutto, sausage
  • Rims with Ottawa spices like beavertail seasoning

Canada’s capital likes to keep their Caesars hyper-local.


Montreal’s French influence comes through in their Caesars:

  • Sometimes gin is used instead of vodka
  • Jalapeno and Tabasco for spice
  • Garnished with pickled beans, cornichons, or olives
  • Served avec une baguette – Caesar side of baguette

The Montreal Caesar feels refined with its European touches.

Atlantic Canada

On Canada’s East Coast, seafood rules:

  • Clamato juice enhanced with extra clam broth
  • Raw Nova Scotia oysters dropped in
  • Smoked mussels, mackerel, salmon
  • Atlantic shrimps, lobster chunks

Their Caesar becomes a full-on seafood cocktail with briny mollusks and flaky fish.

Caesars vs. Bloody Marys

So how does a Caesar differ from its American cousin, the Bloody Mary? Here’s the breakdown:

Caesar Bloody Mary
Clamato juice (clam + tomato) Tomato juice
More savory, briny More vegetal, acidic
Often garnished with bacon, seafood Garnished with olive, celery, lemon
Primary vodka base Can use vodka or gin base
Canadian! American!

While both drinks have a similar base of vodka and tomato juice, the clamato makes the Caesar more savory, while the Bloody favors vegetable juices. The Caesar leans into meaty garnishes, while the Bloody sticks with Mediterranean flavors.

Why do Canadians love Caesars?

This uniquely Canadian cocktail has become a brunch staple and national institution. What made this odd combination of clam and tomato juice so enduring?

It was invented in Canada

The fact that the Caesar hails from Calgary gives it homegrown appeal. Canadians are proud of this original cocktail.

It combines Canadian flavors

Clamato juice brings together seafood and tomato, two quintessential Canadian ingredients. It hits that sweet spot of savory, briny, and acidic flavors.

It’s hearty

A Caesar is a substantial cocktail – some might call it a liquid meal. The salty clamato and umami Worcestershire make it very savory. This makes it perfect for brunch or an apres-ski warmer.

It’s customizable

From the insane garnishes to the variety of rims, Caesars invite creativity. Canadians have fun putting their own spin on this classic.

It’s perfect for Canadian pastimes

A Caesar just seems to taste better when enjoyed on a cottage deck, at a winter cabin, or during the big game. It’s the ideal cocktail for Canada’s outdoor lifestyle.

Caesar Culture

Today, the Caesar has become part of Canadian identity and culture. Here are some of the ways Canadians celebrate this cocktail:

Caesar Day

May 17th is designated as National Caesar Day. People enjoy Caesars to celebrate the drink and kick off the Victoria Day long weekend.

Caesar Festivals

Cities across Canada host Caesar Festivals with bartenders competing to make the best Caesars. Calgary and Toronto throw big Caesar bashes.

Collectible Glasses

Special edition Caesar glasses are collectible souvenirs. Mott’s releases province-themed glasses annually for Canada Day.

The Caesar Bike Race

What began as a silly stunt – chugging Caesars while cycling – turned into an annual charity event in Ontario.

Ordering “the Canadian cocktail”

When abroad, Canadians just have to ask the bartender if they can make them “the Canadian cocktail.” A Caesar instantly cures homesickness.


The Caesar is a true Canadian original – born in Calgary, spread across the country, and now considered a national icon. This quirky combination of clamato and vodka has become indelibly tied to Canadian identity.

Canadians’ shared love of the salty, savory cocktail reveals the special place it holds in Canada’s culinary tradition. The Caesar’s rise from obscure invention to nationwide sensation is a uniquely Canadian success story.

So next time you see a Canadian asking for a Bloody Mary and getting a Caesar, you’ll understand it’s not a mistake – it’s just the Canadian way. The Caesar embodies the independent, innovative spirit of our northern neighbors. Wherever you travel in Canada, be sure to order “the Canadian cocktail” and taste a flavor of home.

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