Are you looking for the ultimate Calgary Caesar crawl?
It can be a daunting task, especially in the place where it all started.
If you’ve been living underneath a rock for the last fifty years, you may not know that Canada’s favourite cocktail was invented in Calgary back in 1969 by Walter Chell.
That’s precisely why Calgary is the best place to visit for an ultimate tasting tour. From new recipes to high-quality ingredients to extravagant garnishes, bar teams in YYC take Caesars very seriously.
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Next week is National Caesar Day and also Calgary’s first-ever YYCaesarfest. Dished decided to celebrate by talking to some of the spots that make the best Caesar you could hope to find.
We learned about what makes the Caesar so special to the city of Calgary, what went into making each drink, and why you should add each spot to your Canadian cocktail bucket list.
Here are six must-hit spots with mind-blowing creations to participate in the ultimate Calgary Caesar Crawl, including where it was first invented.
First stop: CHIX Eggshop, a super popular spot for breakfast sandwiches in Calgary, but the team has also designed a Caesar worth visiting.
The “Clucking Crazy Good Caesar” has a slightly spicier take on the classic recipe, and the garnish tastes as good as the drink. This thing is topped with deep-fried bacon.
Need we say more?
Address: 624 6th Avenue SE, Calgary
Made with dill-infused Sub Rosa vodka, Walter Caesar mix, bacon, and other pickled vegetables to garnish with, this is an understated Caesar with bold flavours.
Using dill pickle vodka is a great way to enhance the drink’s flavour profile without diluting the entire thing by simply pouring pickle juice into the clam tomato juice.
A Caesar is excellent with seafood and steak, so the Guild Restaurant was a must-hit spot for us.
The bar team here also told us they’re thinking of exciting new recipes that we should be able to see on the menu very soon. There was talk of a rim garnish made out of Flamin’ Hot Doritos…
Address: 200 8th Avenue SW, Calgary
Native Tongues is one of Calgary’s most popular Mexican-style restaurants, but that doesn’t exactly scream out “Caesar.”
The mix is house-made, and if you’ve never had a tequila Caesar before, you are missing out. Maybe even order a beer on the side and, halfway through, turn it into a Michelada.
Address: 235 12th Avenue SW, Calgary
Inside the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, the Hawthorn Dining Room is definitely one of the most excellent rooms to drink a Caesar in YYC.
The one major difference between a Caesar here and an average one anywhere else is the use of oregano and the preparation method.
It’s not a simple “pour and stir” at Hawthorn. The Caesar here is crafted and made like a house-crafted cocktail. It’s also entirely alcohol-free, making it even more unique!
The drink is built inside a shaker tin and then poured back and forth to aerate the drink, just another example of the bar team going the extra mile.
Address: 133 9th Avenue SW, Calgary
The Caesar Stack here at Cleaver is an excellent example of creating an amazing Caesar while having fun with it.
The drink itself is made with house mix, which includes horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and a few other secret items.
“Great Caesars are made when you pay attention to detail and add some spice to the original recipe, and Cleavers snacks on top,” Barbara Spain, the Executive Chef and Owner of Cleaver, told Dished. “Meal and a drink in one!!”
It’s the garnish that has people turning heads when they walk by this popular 17th Avenue patio.
It was topped with a fried chicken drum and wing, jalapeno waffle, beef slider, house bacon, tomato fennel ketchup, and a tempura corn dog.
The food sitting on top of this tasty drink also tastes incredible, from the waffles made from scratch to the 2-day brined fried chicken that is then sous vide in chicken drippings and deep-fried in a special cleaver spice.
Chef Spain, coming from Ireland, didn’t always love the Canadian cocktail, and now she’s created one of the best places to go on a Calgary Caesar Crawl.
“Found it a bit weird when I first arrived in Calgary; I had only ever had a Bloody Mary,” said Spain. “I transitioned over to Caesar’s quickly and love them now!”
Address: 524 17th Avenue SW Unit 102, Calgary
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The Calgary Caesar Crawl had to end at the place where it all began back in 1969.
“I feel the City of Calgary takes much pride in having a national drink created in their community,” said Michael Batke, Executive Chef at the Westin Calgary Downtown, in an email to Dished.
Originally, the drink was designed to complement the Spaghetti ala Vongole served at the Calgary Inn. It took months, but once Chell perfected it, it was an instant hit with the people of Calgary. And now, it’s loved by people all over.
Honouring the classic, the Westin serves it up the iconically classic way, with one lime wedge, celery salt to rim the glass, vodka (Grey Goose preferred), a dash or so of Worcestershire sauce and tobacco sauce filled with tomato and clam juice, and garnished simply with a celery stick.
“I believe you need to have enough acidity and heat to really get your taste buds going,” said Batke.
It won’t always be just the classic version served here. It looks like Chef Batke is excited to stir things up in a different way.
“This summer, you must come and try our new Caesar creations on our Owl Patio & Bar, like gin and yuzu with Tagorashi spiced rim.”
Address: 320 4th Avenue SW, Calgary
The author of this story was hosted by Tourism Calgary.