Need something to do this weekend? In celebration of Canada Day, here are five of the best Caesars that Vancouver has to offer.
Local Public Eatery, 2210 Cornwall Avenue
Kitsilano hotspot Local Public Eatery might just have it all: an unparalleled location just steps away from the beach (and by default, a killer patio with views of sand and water); some of the best house-made burgers in town; and a well-edited list of quenchable cocktails that come in boots. Yes, boots—cowboy-boot-shaped glasses, to be exact, which hold libations like the Jack Daniel’s–spiked Lucky Lemonade, the cheeky Spanish (Banks) sangria, and, of course, the El Caesar. And while the western-style cups may seem gimmicky, there’s nothing contrived about Local’s all-Canadian cocktail. Backed by the basics—Smirnoff vodka and Clamato juice—the eatery switches out the ol’ Tabasco for a “very special Mexican hot sauce” that takes every sip to the next level. A neat attached-to-the-glass lineup of olive, green bean, and a savory pepperoni stick, meanwhile, offers bite-sized snacks as you people-watch or await your main course. Just be cautious on Sundays: at $6 for a double, these Caesars can quickly take you from hungover into full-fledged day-drunk mode.
Score on Davie, 1262 Davie Street
No list featuring Caesars in Vancouver would be complete without a nod to the Score. With five different varieties to choose from, garnishes are king in these cocktails, if you can even call them that—they’re more like a meal-in-a-glass. Are you all about wings? The Ain’t no Thang Caesar comes loaded with four chicken wings and three onion rings. Try the GrilledChaesar and chow down on a grilled cheese sandwich, deep-fried pickle, and onion rings before guzzling, you know, the actual Caesar. For those with a penchant for seafood, try the Seasar: not only does it win for most clever name, it’s also topped with onion rings, a bacon-wrapped scallop, and tempura prawns. If you’re embracing all that’s southern, the Mac & Chaesar will surely satisfy with deep-fried pulled pork, mac and cheese balls, and onion rings. If you’re feeling daring, though, we suggest the Checkmate: the mother lode of all Caesars, this one requires at least two people to order, and we can see why. Roasted chicken, a burger, a slider, onion rings, wings, a pulled pork hot dog, and a brownie make this the most garnished Caesar on the planet.
The Keefer Bar, 135 Keefer Street
As the Score on Davie has proven, just because the Caesar is a classic, that doesn’t mean it can’t be messed with. At the Keefer Bar the ever-adventurous staff puts a tropical spin on a made-in-Canada original with the Bloody Ming, which uses guava juice instead of Clamato. Lest one think that sounds like something ripped from the pages of The Tiki Bible According to Trader Vic, rest assured the cocktail tastes, quite unexpectedly, like a kissing-cousin of the original. After getting crazy with the guava, the rest of the deliciously savoury Bloody Ming more or less adheres to tradition with lemon, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and salt and pepper—as well as a good stiff measure of Finlandia vodka. And if you’re hoping for a stalk of celery garnish, well, sorry, you’ll have to settle for flourishes like (if you're lucky) a 100-times-more-amazing dried orange wheel and juniper branch. Proving, one supposes, that despite what purists will argue, there’s nothing wrong with messing with a classic.
The Bottleneck, 870 Granville Street
There aren’t many reasons left to visit Granville Street—save for the Commodore—but this hidden gem next to the iconic venue should be your next pre-show beverage spot if you’re a Caesar enthusiast. The Bottleneck’s Bloody Caesar keeps tradition alive without being crotchety: two ounces of vodka, Clamato juice, Worcestershire, and Tabasco round out the liquids, but the solids that come with this cocktail keep it fresh without overdoing it. Who wouldn’t enjoy pickled asparagus, wine cured chorizo, a bacon-wrapped scallop, and pickled beet with this classic Canadian beverage—and where else can you get a double-shot drink and a decent snack for a mere $7.50? Obviously, the crew at the Bottleneck knows what’s up.
Cactus Club Cafe, various locations
We’re strong proponents of the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but Vancouver’s ubiquitous Cactus Club Cafe has managed to elevate a tried-and-true Sunday morning mainstay with a few inventive substitutes. The restaurant chain’s signature Caesar stars vodka and Clamato juice, but switches out the Tabasco for a flavourful—and top-secret—blend of spices. We’re still trying to tease out the exact ingredients so we can attempt to make our own at home. (Is that horseradish? Black peppercorn? A house-made or specially imported, illegal-in-Canada Mexican hot sauce?) Though whatever it is, rest assured—the drink offers a swift kick to your taste buds that’ll leave you thirsting for a second, third, and fourth glass. Forget your typical lime wedge and celery stick garnish, too: Cactus instead opts for fancy European edibles like a balsamic vinegar–soaked borttane onion, bocconcini pearl, and a vermouth-infused olive. It all comes together with a chili flake–, thyme-, and sea salt–coated rim that we bet you’ll be licking from end to end.