The Cesar. It Hits You Right in the Skull.

As a present, my little brother recently gave me a glass skull shot glass and a blank composition book titled, “People I Want to Punch in the Face.”  We Gelsomins are not a violent bunch.  But we do have a sick sense of humor.

I mention this because I finally had the chance to use my new morbid barware last Sunday.  Turns out, one and a half ounces of vodka fills up to the skull’s would-be procerus—the booze hits right underneath the eyebrows.

But right.  I am not here to talk faux-skull anatomy.  No.  I am here to discuss a better Bloody Mary.  A lighter, more whimsical Bloody Mary.  If you allow my use of whimsy and blood in the same sentence. 

To complicate matters a tad, this cocktail is technically called a César.  (And I will henceforth leave figures with murderous undertones out of this.) The drink is essentially a Canadian version of the standard aforementioned brunch cocktail. 

This recipe comes from the brains behind Joe Beef and Liverpool House, Frédéric Morin and David McMillan.  Brilliant men.  The two have mastered the art of fanciful, nostalgic food.

They do things like serve Hot Oysters on the Radio.  (Or on bags of sugar, erotic novels, albums, whatever.)  They’ve been known to bring their own foie gras on train trips.  And their own vintage glassware when ice fishing.

They also subscribe to extreme cocktail garnishing.  Which is fine by me.  A mutiny of accoutrement is precisely what I’m after.

I recommend a lemon and lime slice for starters.  The obligatory celery stalk, of course.  Perhaps a pickle, an olive or two, and preferably at least one type of shellfish.  Dave and I decided a plump oyster crown would do.

The cocktail is spicy, savory, and skillfully employs Clamato juice as a vodka transporter of sorts.

And they go down easy.  So watch it.  You don’t want to end up on anyone’s face-punching list.
The César
Adapted from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts by Frédéric Morin, David McMillan, and Meredith Erickson


Old Bay seasoning (for garnish) (or you could try this)
1½ ounces of vodka (up to the eyebrows in a skull shot glass, or one shot)
dash of Worcestershire
few dashes of Tabasco
½ tsp grated horseradish, or to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
4 to 6 ounces Clamato juice
at least one lemon and lime wedge or slice
2 olives
1 pickle spear
1 celery stalk
1 raw oyster


Place the Old Bay or seasoning mixture on a plate.  Dip the edge of a pint glass into water or rub it with the wedge of a lemon.  Turn the glass upside down and press the edge into the seasoning, moving it gently in a circular motion to help the spices stick.

Fill the glass at least halfway with ice.  Add the vodka, Worcestershire, Tabasco, horseradish, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Fill the glass up with Clamato to the top (allowing a little room for garnish displacement).  Stir, taste, and adjust the seasoning, as needed.

Add in the citrus, olives, pickle spear, and celery.  Top with an opened oyster, or seafood garnish of your choice.

Makes one cocktail.

-In a pinch, I used ground piment d’Espelette and a little salt in place of the Old Bay.

-A lobster claw would be a keen addition.  Other pickled vegetables, such as dilly beans, would be wonderful here, as well.

-You can see both the subtle skull shot glass and Bostonian Bully Boy vodka bottle in the background.  This is just an aside.

-Don't have Clamato?  Try one part tomato juice to two parts clam juice, as suggested here.

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