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For all our fellow clamato-juice-and-worcestershire-sauce lovers out there—hail, caesars!
Mild or spicy, salty or sweet, garnished or plain-Jane, there’s a caesar out there for everyone. We asked six local competitors (gladiators, if you will) to give us their best shot—and, according to our panel of experts, these are the ones that reign supreme.
Caesars from left to right: Bells and Whistles, Rodney’s Oyster House, Edible Canada, Timber, Liberty Distillery, Earls.
Liberty Distillery’s “delicate” caesar—gin, Clamato, fresh lemon, Worcestershire, Tabasco, grated horseradish, celery-salt rim—hit all the right notes. “There’s nothing about it that’s super aggressive,” said Povarchook. “It’s just really great across the board.” The refreshing hit of extra citrus also had our judges claiming they could drink this one any day, any time. From $9, 1494 Old Bridge St., thelibertydistillery.com
“This one looks muddy,” said a judge upon first seeing the drink’s dark hue. Made with Clamato, a secret blend of hot sauces and pickle brine, it was the “most interesting” and “weird” caesar of the day. “It isn’t what I was expecting, but it’s still really good,” said one panellist. From $8, multiple locations, earls.ca
Bells and Whistles’ take on the caesar is “very purist”—it’s just vodka, Clamato, lime juice and a simple steak spice rim. But our judges all agreed it was a very well-made drink. The pepperoncini garnish was a nice touch, too: “It has a couple of unique twists, but it’s still very familiar,” said Johnson. $10, 3296 Fraser St., bellsandwhistlesyvr.ca
If you like ’em hot, Rodney’s caesar (a.k.a. Zydeco Stew) is the way to go. Its hefty dose of Tabasco and its wallop of freshly grated horseradish had our judges choking back spice: “They are not messing around with this,” said one. $13.25, multiple locations, rohvan.com
If we were judging on garnish alone, this caesar would be the top pick for Palacio (“The candied bacon is good,” she said), but overall, this cocktail just wasn’t flavourful enough: “It’s kind of watery,” said one judge. “There’s just not a lot of spice there.” $14, 1596 Johnston St., ediblecanada.com
Mixed with vodka, Walters mix, IPA mustard and HP sauce (the latter two both made in-house), Timber’s classic caesar has a “good balance of sweet and heat.” And they knocked it out of the park with their garnish (pickled beans, rosemary beef sausage, chicharron) and dehydrated ketchup rim. $10, 1300 Robson St., timbervancouver.com
William Johnson is the owner of Fraserhood’s Crowbar. In the most Drew Carey of fashions, he created an it-doesn’t-really-matter points system for our tasting.
Olivia Povarchook, bartender at Vij’s Restaurant, is more interested in a caesar’s garnish game than anything else: “I want it to get as ridiculous as it possibly can.”
Jessica Palacio, a former VanMag intern, came to the rescue on tasting day when one of our social media followers pulled a Brutus at the last minute—she’s a modern-day hero, folks!