Hail Caesar, Calgary’s Cocktail!

Caesar at Corks Restaurant

It was May 13, 1969 when bartender Walter Chell concocted the world’s first Caesar for the opening of a new restaurant. Marco’s Italian Restaurant was opening at the Calgary Inn and Chell was championed with creating something that would pair with the Italian fare.

The original Caesar recipe had mashed clams, tomato juice and vodka. The clams being the twist on the already popular Bloody Mary. The clam / tomato idea was drawn from the flavour of Spaghetti Vongole (tomato sauce with clams).

Later Chell would help market Clamato juice, a blend of clam nectar and tomato juice from Mott’s that’s a truly Canadian creation and a key ingredient of any Caesar.

Caesar garnishes, however, are open to interpretation. Celery stalks, asparagus, prawns, even bacon have been seen adorning celery salted rims of Caesars.

Happy Birthday, Caesar! You’re dinner in a glass.

What Are You Drinking New Year’s Eve?

I absolutely love that video of 500 Days of Summer co-stars Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? They’re not a real couple, but they should be.

When it comes to New Year’s Eve and the question “what are you drinking?”, chances are it will be bubble.

I had a chance to chat with Natalie MacLean, the world’s best drink writer, about her picks for New Year’s Eve:

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When it comes to a < $20 pick, Natalie is a fan of Santa Margherita:

Wonderful bubbly, packed with peach and pear notes! Want to service bubbly at your wedding or large reception but not break the bank? This is your go-to sparkler. Can’t beat the value/taste/price ratio. Yum!

Natalie is a fan of both prosecco (Italy) and cava (Spain) as great affordable alternatives to traditional Champagne. It’s the same festive spirit you get from a sparkling wine, they just can’t be called “champagne” because of copyright issues. Only French wines can be called “Champagne.”

I’ll toss a plug for my wife’s portfolio here, she represents both a cava and a prosecco. Villa Teresa from Italy, is a beautiful organic prosecco while Spain’s Freixenet is always a top bargain wine pick.

If you win the $50M Lotto Max tonight then she suggests you splurge on some Bollinger (James Bond‘s choice).

A rich, smoky Champagne, with hints of marzipan and fennel seed accenting honeyed malt, bread dough, baked apple and gingersnap flavors. It’s all focused by intense acidity, which meshes beautifully into the layers of flavor and refined texture, with a lingering finish.

If bubbles aren’t your thing, then try pouring a little cassis into your glass to make a sweeter Kir Royale or grab a bottle of Riesling. MacLean recommends those from the Okanagan as a crisp drink to have while wandering the tapas tray.

I should add that Natalie MacLean‘s smartphone app is a must. It’s easy one of the best online to help you not only manage your wine library and tasting notes, but it has a barcode scanner to get you access to her reviews and each wine comes with a list of 6 or more recipes to create the perfect menu.

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