Even if you're not a drinker, you have some idea what a Bloody Mary is. Vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, and a lot of kick.
Few outside Canada know what a Caesar is. The Caesar is essentially a Bloody Mary made from Clamato and the rim of the glass is decorated in celery salt. The garnishes are a bit different with pickles and olives in the mix as opposed to the traditional celery in a Bloody Mary.
First, I should explain that Clamato is a drink that combines tomato juice and clam broth and is actually sold in stores in the United States. Though clearly the drink is more popular in Canada, people in the United States are buying Clamato.
The problem for me and others is that Clamato has MSG and high-fructose corn syrup. Having MSG is disturbing, but since salt helps some deal with the taste of tomato juice. I can't imagine why high-fructose corn syrup, much less sugar, would need to be in Clamato.
I've had quite a few Canadians talk about their special drink when I travel in Canada. And I've also had quite a few Canadians assume that Clamato is just a Canadian thing.
I have had a Caesar in Canada, or rather a Virgin Caesar made with Clamato. And the drink is quite good. It's spicy and tasty and usually served with olives and pickles on top.
I wondered if I could improve on the drink by making a homemade version of Clamato.
Clam broth is not clam juice, but clam juice is clam related, and I do sometimes use the clam liquid residue from the canned clams in other dishes. (Yes, I rinse the clams off, but keep the juice.)
The clam juice has salt, so starting with a low-salt tomato juice is ideal. Mott's won't share its ratio of clam and tomato with us, so I went with a 3:1 ratio of tomato to clam. I mixed the Virgin Mary drink mix separately and poured out 6 oz. and then added 2 oz. of the clam juice. This is different from the clam juice you can buy in the store, though I've already paid for the clam juice from the can.
The clam juice mellows out the drink, but not too much. A good Bloody Mary or a Virgin Mary is designed to be a little harsh, but the clam juice still leaves you with enough of an edge.
The taste was a lot cleaner than using regular Clamato. The only sweetness came from the tomatoes themselves, the right way to do this type of drink. For those who find tomato juice too much to take, a bit of clam juice will help that out.
Even with a shot of vodka, the homemade Caesar is a relatively nutritious drink by mixed drink standards. If salt or sodium is an issue, you may have to steer clear. Otherwise, the drink is unusual, exotic on some level, and can you make you seem that much cooler at the bar. Once, of course, you explain what a Caesar is to the bartender.