The number of Canadians traveling to Las Vegas last year spiked by 20 percent, a surge that could bode well for the Bloody Caesar's future in American bars.
"Now you can get a Caesar in Vegas, because a lot of Canadians go there and they don't like Bloody Marys," says Brian Dixon, general manager of Wild Wood Restaurant in Whistler.
Dixon this weekend helped conduct a sold-out Caesar seminar in conjunction with Cornicopia, Whistler's annual wine and food festival. Canadians have an unquenchable thirst for Caesars: Estimates put annual consumption of the Clamato-based beverage at 250 million drinks.
While most Caesars are made according to the traditional recipe, patriotic bartenders have goosed their cocktails with maple syrup and Tim Horton's coffee grounds. It's not unusual for Canadian bars to offer multiple Caesars, wringing distinctiveness from barbecue sauce, bacon salt, Cajun spices and wasabi. But more than four decades after the Caesar's introduction at a Calgary hotel, the drink is still largely unknown in the U.S. (In Seattle, Jamie Boudreau -- a Canadian -- was ribbed by his countrymen for not putting the drink on his menu at Canon.)
"People are like 'ooh, clam juice,'" Dixon says, citing the standard rationale for the Caesar's failure to migrate south. "I don't know how available Clamato is in the U.S."
But Dixon senses the Caesar wave could be gaining strength. A favorable exchange rate and targeted ad campaigns have lured an increasing number of Canadians to Vegas, and they're bringing their Caesar cravings with them. The cocktail has become a regular menu item at hotels including Planet Hollywood and Encore.
"It's pretty tasty, and people are starting to figure it out," Dixon says.