Canada’s 10 best Caesars

by M.C. Warford

It’s as Canadian as a moose drinking maple syrup while listening to Justin Bieber: the Caesar. This cocktail, with its tomato and clam juice base celery stalk garnish, was invented in Calgary in 1969 and quickly took Canada by storm. Today, Caesars are available in a myriad of different types, from the classic to the crazy. Here are 10 of the best. [Image credit: iStock.com/Lauri Patterson]

Canada’s 10 best Caesars

10. Score on Davie, Vancouver

Is it a drink? Is it a meal? We’ll leave that up to you to decide. When it comes to crazy Caesars, the one served at Score on Davie may just take the cake. Aptly called “The Checkmate,” this food Caesar is garnished (we use the term loosely) with a burger, a Cornish game hen, a pulled pork slider, a mac and cheese hot dog and a marble fudge brownie. If that’s a bit much for you, they’ve also got the slightly more restrained K.F.Caesar (fried chicken), the Seasar (tempura prawns and bacon-wrapped scallops) and the Grilled Chaesar (grilled cheese sandwich, fried pickle).

9. Else’s, Montreal

Leave it to a Montreal establishment to add some European sophistication to Canada’s favourite cocktail. Else’s adds a touch of red wine, olive oil, and horseradish to its Caesars. It’s a mix that shouldn’t work, yet somehow does. Add in the relaxed, welcoming atmosphere and reasonable prices, and this becomes a place you’ll want to visit more than once.

8. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Toronto

Mildred’s Caesar shies away from over-the-top gimmicks – no hamburger as a garnish here – but still manages to stand out as a refined version of Canada’s favourite cocktail. What makes it special is the secret salt, which gives it a smoky flavour. The traditional celery stalk has also been taken out in favour of celery shavings, which are complemented by a pair of chopsticks. This is a high-quality, unique Caesar that oozes sophistication.

7. Westin Hotel, Calgary

If there’s a pilgrimage site for Caesar lovers, this is it. The Westin Hotel in Calgary is where the Caesar was invented back in 1969. While the bar and hotel have changed a lot since then (it was called the Calgary Inn when the first Caesar was mixed), they are still serving up this classic Canadian cocktail pretty much the same way they were in the early days.

6. The Chase Fish and Oyster, Toronto

This classy number comes with a freshly shucked oyster and dab of bacon jam. Sounds sophisticated and delicious? Correct on both counts! This is a Caesar to be sipped, savoured and thoroughly enjoyed. The attractive surroundings and seafood-packed menu at The Chase doesn't hurt either.

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5. Merchant Tavern, St. John’s

Staying with the whole seafood theme but dialing things back a bit from a full lobster, the Merchant Tavern in St. John’s, Newfoundland, serves up a decadent Caesar topped with an Eel Lake oyster, prosciutto, sweet pickled onion, a gherkin, and an olive. That’s still a pretty impressive garnish, making this a drink you really should try if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in St. John’s.

4. Tavern on Whyte, Edmonton

Who says extravagant Caesars have to come with extravagant prices? Edmonton’s Tavern on Whyte serves up a decadent yet affordable Caesar featuring a pickled egg, garlic, pickled onions, asparagus, feta-stuffed olives, grilled red peppers, lemon, lime, artichoke hearts, and half a grilled sandwich. Oh, and there’s also a celery stalk in there.

3. One Eighty, Peterborough

One Eighty’s “Butcher Shop Caesar” definitely lives up to its name. It features double smoked bacon, beef jerky, kielbasa, pepperette, old Cheddar, jalapeno Havarti, triple cream Brie, pickled asparagus, dill pickle, spicy bean, and olives. Your arteries won’t thank you, but your tastebuds will!

2. Durty Nelly’s, Halifax

Durty Nelly’s “Durty Ol’ Caesar” has been hailed as the best of its kind in Halifax, and we can understand why. Featuring one and half ounces of Jamieson Irish whiskey, Worcestershire sauce, HP sauce, horseradish, sriracha, cucumber and a pickled bean, this drink packs a punch – a delicious, delectable punch. There are number of other Caesar versions on the menu, no doubt worthy of high praise as well.

1. The National, Calgary

Finally, let’s head back to the city where the Caesar was born for the National’s unique take on this classic cocktail. Topped with pepperoni and pickles, what makes this Caesar really stand out is the addition of IPA. The National proves that Calgary isn’t content to just stick to the basics when it comes to its most famous drink. We think you’ll approve.

The Caesar is a Canadian institution that has allowed bartenders throughout the country to show off their creative mixology skills. Whether you’re looking for something classic and simple or decadent and outlandish, there’s a Caesar somewhere in Canada that has your name on it.

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