This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The Canadian cocktail.
Walter Chell was up for a challenge. In 1969, the bartender at Calgary’s Westin Hotel was asked to create a signature drink to mark the opening of a local Italian eatery. He stewed on the task for three months, experimenting with various concoctions before coming up with a novelty that combined vodka, hand-mashed clams, tomato juice, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces, salt, and pepper, all garnished with a celery stick. The mixologist called his libation a Caesar, a nod to his Italian roots, and not without a little swagger. Then one day, the story goes, a tart-tongued patron took a swig and declared “Walter, that’s a damn good bloody Caesar!” and the full name was born. He wasn’t the only one who felt that way. The cocktail became popular so quickly that within that same year the beverage maker Mott’s began selling record amounts of its ready-made mix of clam and tomato juices. No more mashing clams. Today, the company claims that Canadians hoist 350 million of these national cocktails every year. Hail Caesar!