CJ’s Caesars: The Rye Caesar
By CJ Sommerfeld, Staff Writer
In 2009, the Caesar was named Canada’s official drink—really? A vodka-based cocktail? Canada has not created much, but one thing that we can be proud of is our rye. So, for this week’s “CJ’s Caesars,” we are going to make a rye variation.
I have bartended for eight years, throughout which I am constantly asked, “Make me your special.” Sure, some bartenders might have a signature drink, but I never did. When asked this, I always improvised with the ingredients I had around me: different liqueurs, juices, garnishes, etc. It is enjoyable to approach mixology with creativity, and frankly, sometimes it works out and other times it is a big flop. That is how this recipe came about.
Regardless, this Caesar’s ingredients are not entirely random, but instead of been derived from an unlikely suspect: the Manhattan. This drink is pretty much a rye martini and its ingredients are simple: rye, sweet vermouth, bitters, orange, and maraschino cherry—we will be using all these ingredients in our rye Caesar.
A quick note about vermouth: in other parts of the world, such as Spain and Italy, it is normal for people to drink vermouth (which is essentially fortified and aromatized wine). In Spain, they have bars designated to the liqueur called Vermuterias. Within Canadian culture, this seems odd since vermouth is usually some bottle that gets dusty on the shelf as we only add a 1/2 ounce as an additive into different cocktails.
Another quick note about the snifter glass. For rye’s sake, I chose to use a snifter for this drink. A classic Caesar usually uses a tall rocks glass, whereas a Manhattan is often served in a martini glass (which can be stemmed or not). A snifter is a short-stemmed goblet of sorts. Neat whiskeys and liqueurs are served in these glasses; their shape apparently enhances the sensory experience of drinking these different alcohols. Alright, this sounds boujee, but let us remember that the Caesar is the least boujee cocktail if there ever was one. Hopefully, that cancels out the negative association.
~CJ’s Rye Caesar~
Whichever glass you would like (I used a snifter)
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth (also called red vermouth or vermouth rosso)
1.5 ounces rye (I just used regular rye, but Crown Royal has both a maple and peach flavoured variation)
8 ounces Clamato or any generic tomato and clam juice mix
a teaspoon of Orange extract
a dash or two of Angostura bitters
Orange flavoured dark chocolate
2 ounces pure Canadian maple syrup
dash of red chilis
dash of nutmeg
a small plate worth of brown sugar
1. Always remember to rim the glass first! I could kick myself for how many times I have forgotten this step when making rimmed cocktails! Pour two or so ounces of maple syrup into a small plate—and make sure that the plate is bigger than the rim of your glass! Instead of lime juice as per the classical Caesar, this rye variation is going to be rimmed with maple syrup.
2. Mix the remainder of your rim ingredients in another small plate. Now rim your glass with this mix of sweet and spicy ingredients. The rim of your glass will be sticky from the maple syrup; that stickiness will hold the brown sugar, nutmeg, and chilis in place.
3. One thing to note is most iced cocktails are prepared in the same order: ice, alcohol, followed by whatever juice or ingredient the recipe calls for. This applies to this recipe as well: add the ice, vermouth, rye, orange extract, and Clamato to a shaker (optimally in this order).
4. Now, you do not usually shake a Caesar (in fact, I have never seen a shaken Caesar before). But we are going to do it in this one. In doing so, we can completely blend the vermouth, rye, and orange extract with the clamato, not to mention that shaking Clamato juice gives it a bit of froth which I find refreshing. Shake for 30 seconds, or until the outside of the shaker frosts. (If you do not have a shaker, you can just layer these ingredients directly into your rimmed glass and stir them instead of shaking them. If you opt for the stir method, jump to step 6.)
5. Pour (do not strain!) the chilled ingredients from the shaker into your rimmed glass.
6. Add one or two dashes of bitters.
7. Garnish! Put two (or however many you would like) Maraschino cherries through a toothpick and balance on the cup’s rim. Similarly, balance the orange flavoured chocolate on the cocktail’s ice (it will eventually drop and mix into the Caesar). Last, throw in a cinnamon stick!
8. Enjoy! I would recommend not using a straw—the brown sugar, nutmeg, and chili rim prepares the palette for and compliments the rye, vermouth, orange, and tomato!