Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

We stand on guard -- for our favourite cocktail

Petition wants caesar to be named Canada's drink

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CALGARY -- Cuba has the mojito. Mexico has the margarita. Will Canada soon have the caesar?

It was 40 years ago when Walter Chell, a bartender at what is now the Westin Hotel in Calgary, concocted a vodka and clamato juice drink that has become one of Canada's most popular.

Now the city is campaigning to have it made the country's official cocktail.

Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier and other dignitaries were marking Caesar Day at the hotel Wednesday by sampling variations of the drink, which was originally created with vodka.

The campaign for national recognition includes an online petition www.canadasnationalcocktail.ca

"Looking back now and seeing how many Canadians actually enjoy this cocktail, it's astonishing," said Len Fragomeni, dean of a caesar school based in Toronto.

He thinks he knows how Chell must have felt the day he whipped up the refreshment.

"Like every great bartender, they're thinking about that day, that week, that month and trying to create something new and exciting."

Fragomeni, who has been in the business for 17 years, helps train about 2,400 wannabe bartenders a year on how to make the perfect caesar and travels to trade shows across Canada.

"Canadians drink over 350 million cocktails a year," said Fragomeni. "A lot of people think we're a big beer-consuming culture, but in fact we're not even top 20 when it comes to beer consumption. We obviously drink a variety of different things and the caesar is one of them."

The idea makes sense to the owner of Calgary's Melrose Cafe and Bar.

"It should be the national drink because the bloody Mary, which is popular in the U.S., just doesn't compare," said Wayne Leong.

Fragomeni said the recipe for a caesar is the same right across the country.

"We generally go on the one, two, three, four rule. One ounce of vodka, two dashes of hot sauce, three dashes of salt and pepper and four dashes of Worcestershire and top it up with clamato."

But it's the way the drink is put together that's the secret.

"Use the proper preparation method, which is called rolling. Use two glasses and just pour it back and forth and give it a good mix. The last rule is always use fresh ingredients."

Canada Dry Mott's Inc., which produces clamato juice, is onboard the petition bandwagon.

"We're going to see if we can take the petition to Parliament Hill, said vice-president Andy Bayfield.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 14, 2009 A2

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