Contest mixes up a Canadian favourite



jennifer yang for metro toronto


Len Fragomeni, a Motts Clamato mixologist, says there are no rules when it comes to concocting a good Caesar.


Reading the ingredients for a Caesar cocktail, one might experience some trepidation. Tomato. Spices. Vodka. Hot sauce. And clam?

These things hardly seem like they should belong together in the same thought, let alone in the same beverage. But seeing as the Caesar is Canada’s most popular cocktail, it seems that when these unlikely ingredients are in cahoots, the result is one tasty little drink.

Invented in Calgary 38 years ago by a bartender named Walter Chell, there are now 300 million Caesars served in Canada each year, and many people consider it to be our official cocktail. “Canadians are crazy about Caesars,” says Len Fragomeni, a Motts

Clamato mixologist. “I always tell people, ‘You’re not a Canadian unless you drink Caesars!’”

One major misconception about this surf ‘n’ turf cocktail is it can only be mixed with vodka. Fragomeni says this is certainly not true. “There’s no rules,” he asserts, adding one of the best things about this hearty cocktail is when it comes to the ingredients, the sky’s the limit.

This was certainly the case in a recent Mott’s Clamato contest, where Canadians concocted their own Caesar recipes for a cash prize. The imaginative recipes that flooded in had everything from horseradish to Montreal steak spice, and the winning recipe — the Fiesta Caesar — features tequila and a garnish of spicy pickled green bean.

Maple syrup even found its way into one recipe submission, which was the Ontario and northern Canada regional winner. Mike Walker’s Caesar D’erable was devised for a female friend who wrinkled her nose at drinking a salty cocktail. “It is hot, it is sweet and it is salty,” says Walker. “All the tastes together just kind of blow away the taste buds!”

If you’ve never tried a Caesar, forego the fancy stuff for now and start with the classic version, achievable in just five easy steps:

First, run a lime around the rim of the glass. Next, dip the glass in a rimmer mix, usually made up of celery salt or cracked salt and pepper. The third step is what Fragomeni calls “spicing the ice,” and involves filling the glass with ice cubes, three dashes of hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, some salt and pepper and an ounce of vodka. Then pour in the Clamato to just below the salted rim and, finally, give the whole thing a brisk stir and garnish with celery and lime.

If you’re anything like millions of other Caesar-loving Canadians, “tomato,” “clam” and “vodka” just might become your favourite new words.

If you’re ready to take your Caesar to the next level, you may find a new favourite recipe in one of these winning entries from the Best Caesar In Town contest. For more information,

Fiesta Caesar (National & Eastern Canada winner)

  1. Rim an 8 oz. glass with cracked sea salt.

  2. Half fill the glass with ice. “Spice the ice” with 1 1/2 oz. gold tequila, 4-6 dashes of Tabasco and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

  3. Add 6 oz. Mott’s Clamato Original.

  4. Garnish with a spicy pickled green bean and lemon.

Bloody Caesar MD (Quebec regional winner)

  1. Rim a 20 oz. glass with celery salt.

  2. Fill glass to the top with ice. “Spice the ice” with 2 oz. vodka, 4 dashes of hot sauce, 10 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 2 pinches of Montreal Steak Spice, 1/2 tsp horseradish, 1 1/2 oz. bar mix.

  3. Add 6 oz. Mott’s Clamato Original.

  4. Garnish with celery stick and lime.

Caesar d’erable (Ontario & Northern Canada winner )

  1. Rim a highball glass with lime, celery salt and salt.

  2. Add 1 1/2 oz. vodka, 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 oz. pure Canadian maple syrup, 1 dash of green Tabasco, pepper and celery salt to taste.

  3. Add 4 oz. of Mott’s Clamato Original.

  4. Stir and garnish with celery and lime wedge.

  5. Use a maple leaf as a coaster!

Western Caesar (Western Canada regional winner)

  1. Rim the glass with lemon and Montreal Steak Spice.

  2. Place 3 or 4 ice cubes in the glass. Add 1 1/2 oz. vodka, 1/8 tsp. celery salt, 1/2 tsp lemon pepper, 1/2 tsp. Montreal Steak Spice, 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 1 tsp of hot horseradish.

  3. Add Mott’s Clamato Original.

  4. Garnish with a squeezed lemon slice and pickled beans.