Bloody Caesar.

I made a Bloody Caesar. For the uninitiated, that’s essentially a Bloody Mary, but with Clamato replacing tomato juice. (Don’t run.)

I’ve been inching my way towards this for years. While on a business trip in Toronto (in 2005, I think), some colleagues who became fast friends introduced me to the Caesar. At that point, I had no idea that it was such a thing in Canada. Boy, did I see the proof. Everyone at that bar seemed to be drinking them, and even if I played it safe with a Bloody Mary, I had to admit that their cocktails looked good. Maybe I’d been too hard on Clamato?

Actually, I’d been way too hard on Clamato. If you don’t know, Clamato is tomato juice with a hint of clam, but I have to stress the “hint” part. Clam broth is near the bottom of the ingredients list, and really, you’d never guess “clams” on a blind taste test. Clamato is also loaded with corn syrup, so if anything, it tastes more like a V8 Splash. It’s much sweeter, more watery and way less acidic than tomato juice, and while I wouldn’t say that I prefer it, there’s nothing at all gross about it.

And it does make for a much different cocktail than a Bloody Mary. It’s smoother, lighter, and I can see how those crazy Canucks drink it so often. (I love a good Bloody Mary, but they’re far too heavy to drink at the start of a long night out. It’s like getting to the bar and kicking things off with tomato soup.)

Like its less-clammy cousin, there are a thousand ways to make a Caesar. A thousand and one if you count the bastardized version that I came up with. Aside from vodka and Clamato, there’s Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, spices and some lemon juice. (You’d more traditionally use limes, but we had none left. Fortunately, every kitchen has a lemon in it somewhere, no matter how much you’re convinced that yours doesn’t.)

I rimmed the glass with a seasoned salt-and-pepper mix, though celery salt would’ve been more appropriate. The good thing with a cocktail like this is that you can write off all the mistakes as clever “variations.”

It’s taken me a while, but I’m finally ready to stop treating Clamato like a monstrosity deserving of scorn. It’s completely fine, and from what I see, it mixes well with lots of stuff: Vodka, tequila, even beer. There are no cultural taboos at play. If you’re looking for something new to try, I wholehearted recommend this vodka-slash-tomato-slash-clam mutant drink. After all, nothing that calls for celery garnish is ever all bad.