The only thing more Canadian than clamato juice is maybe beaver tails, Molson Canadian and maple syrup even though up until now, Clamato juice automatically has meant US based Mott's Clamato Juice. When you go to the States and try to order a bloody Caesar, you tell them it's basically a bloody mary but with clamato juice instead of tomato. Then, you have to explain what clamato juice is and then the groans and gags start. CLAM JUICE???? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
If you sat one of those naysayers down and served them a proper bloody caesar without revealing the wonders of clamato to them, I am positive that they would drink their glass dry without a second thought. I can understand that it's hard to get past the clam juice in a cocktail thing but I grew up drinking clamato juice and I love it, straight up on ice, in a cocktail or as a virgin caesar. I am more about the clamato than the vodka, frankly.
Now, as a person who cares about what they eat and tries to avoid preservatives, too much hidden sugar etc, Motts Clamato had become a guilty pleasure, sort of like Nacho Cheese Doritos. I know it's full of crap but I love it so I just don't indulge all that often and pretend I don't know what's in it.
Enter Walter. Walter Caesar mix is Canada's first all natural craft caesar mix and it's delicious. They can't call it clamato because that's trademarked by Motts, but, much like all facial tissue is called kleenex, it's clamato to me but without msg, artificial flavours or glucose/fructose. It's made in small batches and housed in glass bottles instead of the more common plastic bottle.
Aaron Harowitz, a design consultant by trade, and Zack Silverman were longtime friends who shared a loved of a good caesar while they were both at the University of British Columbia. Because they didn't really want to be drinking all those undesirable additives but were not about to give up their favourite cocktail, they had no choice but to create their own, all natural replacement for the most important ingredient - the clam/tomato juice. Their company, Brutus Beverages, had a baby in 2013 and they named him Walter.
The name, Walter, is a tribute to all of the great Walters throughout history and I am sure it is no coincidence that the Caesar was invented by Calgary restaurateur, Walter Chell in 1969 to celebrate the opening of a new Italian eatery. Chell claimed to be inspired by a dish of spaghetti vongole that he had eaten on a trip to Venice. He said he had always thought that the mixture of tomato and clam would make a great cocktail and he spent months perfecting what would eventually become known as the Bloody Caesar. Coincidentally, the American based company, Motts, was developing their clamato juice at the very same time but sales were sluggish until they got wind of Chell's Bloody Caesar and by 1994, 70% of their sales of Clamato were as the mix for caesars and half of those sales occurred in Western Canada.
So, fast forward to today and we have this great, young Canadian company where two guys are taking on the established, American, big money manufacturer of a Canadian institution in order to reclaim it. Conceived in Vancouver, brewed in Toronto, with eventual plans to be available all over the country.
It's a great Canadian style David and Goliath story, complete with a very polite, well mannered David.
Walter Facebook Page
When I first reviewed Walter, I cooked with it, using it in cabbage rolls with great success, if I do say so myself. This time I decided to try a couple of cocktails. Nobody needs me to write out the recipe for a Bloody Caesar because most Canadians can make a decent caesar by the time they can understand "two fingers!" so I started experimenting with other flavours and came up with one that is original and one that is adapted.
I really liked the idea of straining the pulp out of the Walter for a more refined, martini like cocktail for times when I want something a little lighter than a caesar and then, since I am obsessed with aji amarillo and all things Peruvian right now, I came up with my own version of a Bloody Caesar.
Both drinks use Pisco, a potent South American brandy derived from grapes instead of the more expected vodka and I replaced the tobasco with a Peruvian hot sauce made from aji amarillo, the fiery yellow pepper synonymous with Peruvian cuisine.
MVP Caesar (Most Valuable Peruvian)
2 oz (1/4 cup)Pisco
6 oz (3/4 cup) Walter (spicy if you want it very spicy and mild if you don't)
1/4 tsp salsa de aji molido (or more to taste)
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 oz (1 tbls) pickle juice
Pickle and pickled green bean for garnish
crushed coarse salt to rim
|this is what the aji amarillo hot sauce looks like|
Wet the rim of the glass and press it into the coarse salt that you crush up in a pestle and mortor. I used a pink sea salt but use what you have.
Mix the Walter, the aji amarillo, lime and pickle juice and pour over ice into a glass. Add in the Pisco, stir well and garnish with a slice of dill pickle and a pickled green bean.
Makes 1 drink
adapted from Measure and Stir
1.5 oz (3 tbls) strained Walter Mild
1.5 oz (3 tbls) Pisco
1/4 oz (1/2 tbls) simple syrup
1/2 oz (1 tbl tbls) lime juice
pinch coarse salt
1 oz (2 tbls) soda water
|if you don't have a coffee filter, you can use 1 ply of a paper towel sheet in a pinch.Shhhh don't tell on me|
To strain the Walter, put a coffee filter in a strainer and pour in the Walter. Let it strain for at least an hour. You can make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you need it.
Mix the Walter, Pisco, simple syrup, lime juice, bitters and coarse salt in a shaker full of ice and strain into a glass. Top up with approx 1 oz or 2 tbls of soda water.