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The Caesar

The caesar, for many Albertans, is a truly Canadian cocktail. Also known as the bloody caesar, the beverage is similar to the bloody mary in that both use tomato juice, vodka and worcestershire sauce. While not a technological innovation, the caesar represents Alberta’s foothold in great achievements in the history of the food and drink—it was invented by Walter Chell, a bartender in Calgary in the late 1960s.

Clams, for the uninitiated, are a necessary component to the caesar as a flavouring for the tomato juice. Why did Chell think of clams?  Chell wanted to make a drink that could compete with the tomatoes, spices and seafood, featured ingredients from his restaurant's Italian menu. Spaghetti Vongele, spaghetti with clams, in particular, seemed to have many of the desired qualities. After months of trial and error, Chell crushed clams into a "nectar" that he then mixed with tomato juice. He added spice, and worcestershire sauce for sweetness. Keeping with the Italian theme, Chell also seasoned with the drink with oregano. The resulting drink , it was deemed, was fit for the Roman emperor, hence the name.

Today, a thirsty Canadian can walk to the nearest corner store and expect to find a tomato-clam juice blend sitting on the shelf. However, in the late 1960s, tomato-clam did not exist, and Walter Chell, in his quest for a new drink had to get his "clam nectar" from the source. Around the same time, Motts® , a juice company in California, began producing a clam-tomato beverage, or Clamato juice. The company hired Chell to advise on the beverage's production and the juice became the choice of for tomato-clam mixers.

While Chell was the inventor of the caesar, Motts deserves credit for the popularization of the drink itself. This is an example the symbiosis between an independent inventor and corporate marketing prowess. Motts made the caesar a favourite cocktail and Chell's creation had a profound effect on the company’s profits in Canada. According to a telephone survey conducted by Ispos-Reid in early 2003, more than 310 million caesars were served in Canada in the previous year. This makes it the single most popular cocktail in the country.


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