If you need a break from the obscure vermouths, homemade bitters and unpronounceable liqueurs of advanced mixology, perhaps it's time to consider the great drink of the North, the Caesar.
The Caesar is remarkable in so many ways. First off, what's clam broth? And who decided to mix it with tomato juice? And was that the same person who then combined it with vodka, knowing that it would become hugely popular in Canada but draw only blank stares south of the border?
Canadians drink Caesars by the truckload, and some bars around town take theirs fairly seriously, or at least as seriously as a clam-broth-based libation named Caesar possibly invented in Calgary should be taken.
The Caesar gets a lot of respect at the Three Speed (1163 Bloor West, at Pauline, 647-430-3834). But have no fear, there's no talk of clam pedigree or heritage tomato juice at this hip hideaway. The Caesars here ($6.50) are made for the same reason they're made all across the country.
"We all love a Caesar," says the Three Speed's own Cleopatra, Deborah Armstrong. "It's so important that it taste good when you're hung over."
This frequent source of motivation has led to a stellar rendition of the standard. Maybe the Three Speed's most interesting angle is the MSG-free President's Choice brand tomato clam cocktail (original, unspiced). Olive brine is another innovation, but the greatest challenge to conventional Caesar wisdom is the option of vodka or gin.
I went with vodka and lapped it up. And I wasn't even hung over. Later, I tried both variations at home. If you make them like Deb, they're both great, just different.
Three Speed Caesar: do it yourself
Rim a large glass with celery salt.
Combine in glass:
1 oz vodka or gin
Juice from half a lime
1 tbsp olive brine
Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to taste
Grated fresh horseradish
Salt and pepper
Add ice, top with clam cocktail, stir and garnish with olives and pickled pepperoncini.