Bitter Caesar


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Introduction to the Bitter Caesar

Welcome to the savory world of the Bitter Caesar, a cocktail that’s as intriguing as it is refreshing. This drink is a unique take on the classic Bloody Caesar, beloved by brunch enthusiasts and cocktail aficionados alike. With its complex flavor profile that perfectly balances savory, spicy, and bitter notes, the Bitter Caesar is a must-try for anyone looking to expand their cocktail repertoire.

Originating from Canada, this cocktail has made a name for itself with its distinctive use of Clamato juice and a generous dash of bitters. It’s the perfect remedy for those looking to recover from a night out or simply to enjoy a leisurely weekend brunch. Let’s dive into the rich flavors and history of the Bitter Caesar and discover why it’s a standout in the cocktail scene.

Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a curious beginner, the Bitter Caesar is a cocktail that promises to deliver a unique drinking experience. So, grab your shaker and let’s explore the depths of this beloved Canadian concoction.

Key Facts About the Bitter Caesar

  • Alcohol Content: Approximately 14% ABV
  • Calories: Approximately 140 kcal per serving
  • Preferred Glass: Highball glass for the perfect presentation
  • Typical Garnish: Celery stick and lime wedge for a classic finish

Interesting Facts about the Bitter Caesar

The Bitter Caesar is not just a drink; it’s a cultural icon in Canada, often enjoyed during National Caesar Day. Its unique use of Clamato juice, a blend of clam and tomato juices, sets it apart from other cocktails. The addition of bitters to the traditional recipe adds a layer of complexity that entices the palate and challenges the senses.

Bitter Caesar Cocktail

Tasting Notes on the Bitter Caesar

The Bitter Caesar is a symphony of flavors that caters to those who appreciate a cocktail with depth. The savory Clamato juice, combined with the heat from the hot sauce and the tang from the Worcestershire sauce, creates a robust base. The bitters introduce a subtle yet distinct layer of complexity, making this drink a favorite among those who enjoy a more sophisticated taste profile.

Perfect for brunch, the Bitter Caesar is also a popular choice as a hangover cure due to its rich vitamin content and restorative properties. Its bold flavors make it an excellent companion to hearty breakfast dishes and can be a conversation starter at any gathering.

History of the Bitter Caesar

The Bitter Caesar has its roots firmly planted in Canadian cocktail history, originating from the classic Bloody Caesar. The original Bloody Caesar was created in 1969 by Walter Chell in Calgary, Alberta, as a signature drink for the opening of a new Italian restaurant. It quickly became a national treasure, with the Bitter Caesar emerging as a popular variation that caters to those with a penchant for bitter flavors.

Over the years, the Bitter Caesar has evolved, with bartenders experimenting with different types of bitters and hot sauces to personalize the drink. Its versatility and ability to be customized to individual tastes have contributed to its enduring popularity.

Bitter Caesar Ingredients

  • Vodka (1 1/2 oz or 45 ml): The clean, neutral spirit forms the alcoholic base of the cocktail.
  • Clamato Juice (4 oz or 120 ml): This tomato and clam broth mixture gives the drink its signature savory flavor.
  • Worcestershire Sauce (2 dashes): Adds a complex, fermented depth to the cocktail.
  • Hot Sauce (2 dashes): Introduces a spicy kick that can be adjusted to taste.
  • Bitters (3 dashes): The key ingredient that provides the namesake bitterness and rounds out the flavor profile.
  • Celery Salt: Used to rim the glass, it complements the savory elements of the drink.
  • Lime Wedge: Adds a touch of acidity and freshness to the cocktail.
  • Celery Stick: A classic garnish that also serves as a stirring tool.
  • Pickled Bean (optional): Offers a tangy garnish that enhances the overall drinking experience.

Did you know? The Bitter Caesar is often hailed as Canada’s national cocktail, with its origins dating back to the late 1960s.

Preparing Bitter Caesar

Bitter Caesar Method

Creating the perfect Bitter Caesar is an art that begins with the preparation of the glass. Start by rimming a highball glass with a lime wedge and dipping it into celery salt to create a flavorful edge. Next, fill the glass with ice cubes to keep the drink chilled and refreshing.

Pour the vodka over the ice as the foundation of the cocktail. Follow this with the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and bitters, ensuring each ingredient is measured accurately for balance. Top up with Clamato juice and give the mixture a good stir to combine all the flavors harmoniously.

Finally, garnish with a fresh lime wedge, a crisp celery stick, and if you’re feeling adventurous, a pickled bean. The result is a beautifully layered Bitter Caesar that’s ready to be savored.

Serving Suggestion for the Bitter Caesar

The Bitter Caesar is traditionally served in a highball glass, which allows for the perfect ratio of ingredients and ample space for ice and garnishes. The tall stature of the glass also makes it easy to handle and sip from during social occasions.

When it comes to garnishes, the celery stick is not just for show; it’s an integral part of the Bitter Caesar experience. It can be used as a stirrer, adding an extra crunch and a burst of freshness with each sip. The lime wedge serves a dual purpose, providing both a zesty aroma and a splash of citrus when squeezed into the drink.

Elevating the Bitter Caesar

To elevate your Bitter Caesar, consider the following professional tips:

  • Use High-Quality Vodka: Opt for a premium vodka to ensure a smooth and clean taste.
  • Experiment with Bitters: Try different types of bitters to find the flavor profile that best suits your palate.
  • Adjust the Heat: Tailor the spiciness to your liking by playing with the amount of hot sauce.

Another way to enhance the Bitter Caesar is by infusing your vodka with additional flavors such as horseradish or peppercorns. This will add an extra layer of complexity to the drink. Additionally, consider using freshly grated celery salt for the rim to intensify the savory notes.

Bitter Caesar Cocktail Served

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Bitter Caesar

If you’re missing an ingredient or looking to switch things up, consider these substitutions:

  • Tomato Juice: If Clamato juice is unavailable, tomato juice can be a suitable alternative, though it will lack the briny depth.
  • Different Spirits: While vodka is traditional, gin or tequila can offer a new twist on the classic.

Similar cocktails that share the Bitter Caesar’s spirit include the Bloody Mary, Michelada, and Red Snapper. Each offers a unique take on the savory cocktail genre.

Add a Twist to the Bitter Caesar

For those looking to experiment, here are a few ideas to put a new spin on the Bitter Caesar:

  • Smoky Caesar: Add a splash of mezcal for a smoky variation.
  • Garden Caesar: Muddle fresh herbs like basil or cilantro for an herbaceous note.
  • Fruity Caesar: Incorporate muddled berries or a splash of fruit juice for a sweet contrast.

Preferred Liquors for the Bitter Caesar

When crafting a Bitter Caesar, the choice of vodka can greatly influence the final taste. Brands like Grey Goose or Ketel One are known for their exceptional smoothness and are highly recommended by mixologists. For a more budget-friendly option, Smirnoff also provides a clean taste that complements the cocktail’s other ingredients.

Similar Cocktails to the Bitter Caesar

If you enjoy the Bitter Caesar, you might also like:

  • Bloody Mary: A classic cocktail with a similar savory profile but without the Clamato juice.
  • Michelada: A beer-based cocktail with a comparable spice level and refreshing quality.
  • Red Snapper: A gin-based alternative to the Bloody Mary, offering a different botanical twist.

Food Pairings to go with the Bitter Caesar

The Bitter Caesar pairs exceptionally well with a variety of foods. Classic brunch items like eggs benedict or a hearty breakfast sandwich complement the drink’s robust flavors. For a lighter option, consider pairing with fresh oysters or shrimp cocktail to echo the cocktail’s briny notes.

For those looking to impress at a party, try serving the Bitter Caesar with bacon-wrapped scallops or spicy chicken wings. The cocktail’s complexity can stand up to bold flavors, making it a versatile choice for a range of appetizers.

Bitter Caesar FAQs

Can I make a non-alcoholic version of the Bitter Caesar? Yes, simply omit the vodka and you’ll have a delicious virgin Caesar.

Is the Bitter Caesar gluten-free? While the ingredients are typically gluten-free, always check the labels, especially for the Worcestershire sauce.

How can I make my Bitter Caesar spicier? Increase the amount of hot sauce or add a slice of fresh jalapeño to the mix.

What can I use if I don’t have Clamato juice? Tomato juice can be used as a substitute, though the flavor profile will be different.

Can I prepare the Bitter Caesar in advance? It’s best served fresh, but you can premix the ingredients without the ice and garnishes and refrigerate for a short time.

Bitter Caesar_001

Bitter Caesar

The Bitter Caesar is a twist on the classic Canadian Bloody Caesar cocktail. It's known for its savory taste with a hint of bitterness, making it a popular choice for brunch or as a hangover cure.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Calories 140 kcal


  • Highball glass
  • Ice cubes
  • stirring spoon


  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 4 oz Clamato juice
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 3 dashes bitters
  • Celery salt for rim
  • 1 wedge lime
  • 1 stick celery for garnish
  • 1 pickled bean for garnish, optional


  • Rim a highball glass with lime and dip into celery salt to coat the rim.
  • Fill the glass with ice cubes.
  • Pour the vodka over the ice.
  • Add the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and bitters.
  • Top up with Clamato juice and stir well.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge, a celery stick, and if desired, a pickled bean.


This cocktail can be customized to your liking. Increase or decrease the amount of hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce to adjust the spiciness, or add more bitters for a stronger bitter flavor. The Bitter Caesar is a versatile cocktail that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Keyword Bitter Caesar, bitters, Brunch Drink, Celery Salt, Clamato Juice, Cocktail, Hot Sauce, Lime, vodka, Worcestershire Sauce

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