I remember the first time I tried a Caesar, the classic Canadian cocktail that is similar to a bloody Mary but is enhanced by the addition of—gasp!—clam juice. I was sitting at the bar of an intimate jazz club in Montreal and decided I’d order one. While I regarded the drink as something of a novelty, I also figured I might like it—and I was right. It was briny and spicy and delicious and I wondered why all Americans weren’t drinking Caesars.
That’s why I want to draw attention to the Caesar now, as Christmas nears, in case you haven’t heard of it. It strikes me as the perfect holiday drink, though it may not seem so at first glance. One obvious reason is that it’s red and—with the addition of a celery stalk—green, the classic Christmas color combination. It also, given its clammy base, seems like a good drink to serve if you are having a Feast of the Seven Fishes-style dinner party. Seafood in a glass!
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It’s a cinch to make. All you need is Clamato juice—Mott’s sells it—and vodka, but the addition of hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, maybe some horseradish, and seasonings like celery salt and black pepper will greatly enhance its flavor. I like to add a splash of juice from a jar of pepperoncini. You can also use tomato juice and add your own clam nectar, but it’s way more convenient to just go ahead and buy the mixture. The addition of lime or lemon juice, too, lends the the cocktail an edge, adding an acidic bite that gives depth to the already acidic tomato juice.
If you are having people over for the holidays, I’d recommend cooking up a batch or two of this appealingly savory drink. Your guests, I am assuming, won’t expect you to serve this funky cocktail, which will make them all the more grateful for it. You could, of course, just make the traditional bloody Mary, but where’s the fun in that?
While eggnog and mulled wine seem to have something of a monopoly on the holidays, you’d do well to make room for the Caesar this year. I doubt you’ll regret it. In fact—and excuse the pun—I imagine that you and your guests will be as happy as clams.