Cilantro. Either you love it or hate it. Detractors will tell you that it tastes like soap. Defenders will exonerate the herb’s healthful virtues and tell you that an authentic taco cannot exist without it. Long story short, there is no middle ground. The same, it appears, goes for Clamato.
The union of bivalves and tomatoes may seem strange, certainly not intuitive, but take a moment to consider the redness of cocktail sauce, not to mention Manhattan clam chowder. In truth, tomatoes and clams actually play nicely together.
Created in 1935, Clamato Tomato Cocktail represents the perfect marriage of tomato sweetness and ocean brine. Since its birth in Manhattan, the brand has been owned by different companies but it’s currently produced by Keurig/Dr. Pepper and it still proudly bears the name “Motts.”
The savory blend of tomato and clam yields a liquid that is both flavorful and bold. The addition of MSG guarantees that unmistakable umami note that is its hallmark characteristic. In the hands of an experienced mixologist, this flavorful contrast yields favorable results when served over ice and a combination of spirits.
There’s the Michelada, of course. But the Bloody Caesar is the cocktail most often associated with Clamato. Many variations exist; you can find the funky-fishy blend adding depth to a decent number of “eye-opener cocktails“ associated with brunch. The origins of this particular briny concoction are widely disputed. Restaurant manager Walter Chell was the first to name the clam-enhanced cocktail the “Bloody Caesar” when he poured one at the Calgary Inn in 1969 to celebrate the hotel’s new Italian restaurant and bar by swapping out the Bloody Mary’s tomato juice for Clamato. The Caesar became so beloved that it is considered to be the “official national drink” of that great neighbor nation, and Canadians all over the world celebrate Caesar Day every May. May 19, this year, if you’re interested.
My brother Bob, an educated mixologist and celebrated host for many years, has weathered the numerous trends that attempt to over-flatter even the best Bloody Mary (i.e. Slim Jims, okra, and colossal shrimp). His simplicity is his innovation: To quote Miles Davis, “It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.”
As a result of his tireless efforts, several Bay Area establishments now offer a version of his potent potable. It’s often called, quite simply, “The Bob.” With the addition of Clamato, I gladly share our version.
THE BLOODY BEEZER
- 2 ounces vodka
- 4 ounces Clamato
- 2 dashes Crystal hot sauce
- 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 2 squeezed lemon wedges (juice only)
- Celery stalk
- Lemon wedge
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Fill a tall glass with ice and set aside.
- Add vodka, Clamato juice, Crystal, Worcestershire, Tabasco and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker with a few cubes of ice.
- Lightly shake or stir to combine ingredients
- Strain into tall glass and garnish with celery stalk, lemon wedge and a few twists of black pepper