5 tips for the best Caesar cocktails | From ice to garnish and seasoning

by W. Andrew Powell
Caesar cocktails

Take your Caesars to the next level this summer with some of the best tips around for making the classic Canadian cocktail delicious and unique.

The original Caesar is an amazing cocktail, and you can make it even better with a few tips, including the right ice-to-drink ratio, options for rim seasoning, unique flavours to try, and how to take your garnishes up a notch.

Want to see how it’s done? Watch how to make the perfect Caesar cocktail.

Start with the glass

This one is simple, but start with a good sized glass. Caesars are best in a highball glass that holds up to 16 oz, giving you lots of space for ice, Clamato juice, vodka, and any garnishes.

You can make a Caesar in almost any type of glass though, as long as it’s big enough. I’ve had Caesars in Mason jars, and hurricane glasses. If the glass is smaller, you may just need to adjust the proportions of the cocktail to fit.

Ice like a pro

This may not be obvious, but a good ratio of ice-to-drink makes a big difference in your Caesar. With only a couple of ice cubes, your Caesar, or just about any cocktail, is going to get watered down quickly because they will melt faster.

As any bartender will tell you, a good amount of ice may make the drink slightly smaller, but it also keeps the Caesar colder, and less likely to taste watered down.

For a highball glass, you should be aiming to fill it half-full of ice. Depending on the size and shape of your ice cubes, you may have to experiment, but for an average ice cube tray, that will mean around 4 large ice cubes in each drink.

Change up your rim seasoning

Smirnoff Caesar cocktail
Smirnoff Caesar cocktail

Celery salt is a classic for any Caesar, but there are a lot of options for taking your Caesars up a notch. The Smirnoff Pacific Rim Caesar uses Cajun spice, but you can add any sweet or savoury spice that you like.

Think about mixing celery salt and garlic salt, or for something fancier, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, and celery salt work well together.

Dry BBQ spice also works well, especially if it’s just a bit sweet and salty.

Plus, when rimming your glass with seasoning, you can use water if you prefer, or you can use a lemon or a lime for a nice, tangy flavour.

Make the flavours unique

Beyond the rim seasoning, there are lots of options to change up the classic Caesar. Try it with gin, tequila, rum, or whisky. Look for a sweet recipe like the Mott’s Pomegranate Caesar.

There are very few limits to what you can do with the Caesar. It’s one of the most versatile cocktail recipes out there, and there are even similar drinks, like the Mexican Michelada that uses beer instead of vodka.

If you want to keep it simple, adding just a hint of pickle juice to your Caesar is a great place to start.

For mixes, you can use just about any that you like. Mott’s is simple and easy, with a few variations on flavours, but I’m also a big fan of Walter Craft Caesar Mix, or look for some local varities at your grocery store. If you’re curious, you can also make your own Clamato juice from scratch.

Up your garnish game

This is my favourite tip for anyone who loves a great Caesar. Celery and lime are classic garnishes for Caesars, but there are so many options, and you’re really only limited by your own imagination.

I’m a big fan of using wings, bacon, shrimp, or even lobster to garnish my Caesars, or if you go with a vegan recipe, you can top your cocktails with pickled veggies, roasted asparagus, fresh cucumber, fruit for sweet variations, or even something like a sprig of rosemary.

Depending on your tastes, you can build the garnish around the recipe, or find a recipe to match your favourite garnish.

There are some things you should always keep in mind, as Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Simon Hooper pointed out to me. Simon is a champion Caesar mixer, and he has some great advice for making the most of your Caesar garnishes.

Maybe most importantly, when you’re making the Caesar, “make sure it tastes amazing before you start thinking about toppings.”

Second, Simon suggests making sure whatever you pick doesn’t make the glass top heavy. No one wants their drinks falling over.

Before you serve your drinks, “if you’re making it for someone else, make sure they like all the toppings. There’s nothing worse than picking things off it.” And don’t forget to check about any allergies before you serve anything.

“Bigger isn’t always better,” Simon also said. A couple of garnishes are probably enough for most cocktails.

And of course, have fun and drink responsibly!

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