Eat North Answers: What is clamato?

How Canada's most iconic cocktail mix came to be

Image provided by Mott's Clamato.

Few Canadian cocktails are more polarizing than the Caesar, but the divide between those that love them and those who don’t seems to have been bridging over the years.

But before we get into the history of the Caesar’s evolution, we’ll first have to address the question regarding the classic Caesar mix that you might have long-wondered but have been afraid to ask for fear of a Caesar-purists’ swift rebuke: What exactly is clamato?

The story goes that the founders of what would become Mott’s Clamato wanted to create a cocktail inspired by the tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder using tomato juice, clam broth, and various spices. Although some accounts assert that a nearly-identical drink was published in a 1956 cookbook, the clamato juice that many Canadians know and love today took its current form in 1966. 

These days, there are many more Caesar mixes to choose from. The variety of artisanal clamato-like Caesar blends that feature minor, but distinct differences, are helping the tomato-based cocktail appeal to a larger pool of palates. Some modern day examples include Walter Craft Caesar Mix, which claims to be Canada’s first all-natural Caesar mix, Park Distillery’s certified vegan and MSG-free ready-to-drink Caesar, and the hot sauce- and chili pepper-infused Singers Caesar Mix.