The Caesar was not, contrary to popular belief, invented at Calgary’s Caesar’s Steakhouse
, though that iconic restaurant continues to serve a very nice version of the now-classic cocktail. Rather, in 1969, Walter Chell, the food and beverage manager at the Calgary Inn (now The Westin
) concocted the very first Caesar. It was a play on the Bloody Mary, made all the more savoury with the addition of Mott’s Clamato in place of standard tomato juice.
What inspired Chell to create this spicy and surprisingly nourishing clam-flavoured beverage? Some say that he wanted to celebrate the opening of the hotel’s new Italian restaurant with a drink that mimicked his favourite pasta dish, Spaghetti Vongole; others claim that he was trying to win a contest being held by Mott’s. Either way, Chell’s stroke of genius wasn’t the first Clamato-based cocktail on the market, but it is the one that stuck and became a Canadian brunch-time standard. In fact, the Caesar is such a favourite across the county that Parliament declared it Canada’s Official Cocktail in 2009.
at The Westin still serves a very classic (though, slightly updated) version of the Caesar and if you’re a true Caesar fanatic it’s more than worth popping in to pay homage to its birthplace.
That said, many local restaurants offer modernized Caesars, riffing on Chell’s original recipe in weird and wonderful ways.
Below are some top spots to hit if you’re planning your very own Caesar crawl once you’ve tried the original and its birthplace.