The Caesar

Canada’s cocktail hits the big five-oh

The Caesar turns 50 in 2019. Istockphoto.com photo

This year Canada’s favourite cocktail turned 50. And like many a middle-aged bon vivant, it has been undergoing something of a makeover.

The Caesar was famously invented in 1969 by a Calgary bartender named Walter Chell, who was tasked with creating a drink to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant at The Calgary Inn (now The Westin). Inspired by the popularity of the Bloody Mary and the umami-rich flavours of spaghetti alle vongole, he mixed together vodka, tomato juice, clam nectar and spices and created Canadian cocktail history.

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Rum island

In Barbados, rum defines a well-balanced thirst quencher

Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. photo

It won’t take long, once you’ve landed in Barbados, before someone presses a glass, sparkling with condensation and filled with an amber elixir, into your hand. Welcome to the famous Barbados rum punch and the taste of island life.

In Barbados, rum punch is enjoyed by everyone from farm workers to property tycoons to pallid newcomers from wintry climes. And it’s enjoyed everywhere from the verandas of grand plantation houses to the tailgate of a jeep in the jungle.

How rum punch came to be the national drink is unknown, but not exactly surprising.

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Barbados Rum Punch

Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. photo

The classic the way it is made on the island.

• 0.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
• 1 oz simple syrup (see note)
• 1.5 oz dark rum (such as Barbados’ own Mount Gay Eclipse, or older)
• 2 oz water
• 1 dash Angostura bitters
• Freshly grated nutmeg

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Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai

Donn Beach—a.k.a. Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, a.k.a. Don the Beachcomber—reportedly invented his version of the drink in 1933, when it was called a Mai Tai Swizzle.

• 1 oz gold rum
• 1.5 oz dark rum
• 1 oz (30 mL) grapefruit juice
• 0.75 oz lime juice
• 0.5 oz Cointreau or triple sec
• 0.25 oz falernum
• 6 drops Pernod
• Dash of Angostura bitters
• Mint sprig to garnish

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Trader Vic’s Mai Tai

Victor Bergeron, founder of Trader Vic’s restaurants, claims to be the originator of the Mai Tai, back in 1944. This is his version of the drink.

• 2 oz aged rum
• 1 oz fresh lime juice
• 0.5 oz orgeat syrup (such as Giffard)
• 0.5 oz  Cointreau or Curaçao
• Mint sprig to garnish

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Tai me up

The origins of the tiki cocktail classic, the Mai Tai

The decor at Vancouver’s Shameful Tiki Room is tiki-tastic. Dan Toulgoet photos

Order the Mai Tai at your peril. It can be one of the world’s greatest cocktails but, like the Bellini and the Margarita, in the wrong hands, it can be an unmitigated disaster. Instead of a delicately fragrant yet powerfully boozy elixir, you are as likely to receive a dispiriting glass of something sweet, sticky and suspiciously hued.

Any bartender who knows their way around the classics should be able to make a decent Mai Tai, but for the real deal, you really want to seek out a tiki expert.

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