The great Toronto Caesar challenge: the classic Caesar
There are few rooms in Toronto with the amount of class as the Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt hotel. It's a real, old school hotel bar, the kind that serves $250 shots of brandy and still has a cigar menu. It's a place of classic cocktails and smart, casually dressed guests. For that reason, I thought it might be just the place to get a real Caesar, something without frills or distractions. A cocktail made properly and served elegantly.
Little did I know that my bartender actually started his career at the Calgary Westin Hotel, the birthplace of the Bloody Caesar. Surely this was a good omen, and what better room to enjoy it than from the 18th floor overlooking the city.
A timeless room makes for a timeless cocktail. This is a Caesar made from the rule book. An ounce of Skyy vodka, 15 shakes of Worcestershire and topped with Clamato. Unfortunately, it was very light on Tabasco, almost nonexistent. I get that some people have an aversion to spice, but a Caesar is a spicy cocktail. That's how it's made. It should be the responsibility of the customer to request no spice if they don't want. If nothing is said, assume it should be spicy and go nuts.
Other than that, no complaints. This is it, the Caesar as it was invented, as it was meant to be. Simple, but effective - just a little low on spice.
Again, classic, a stalk of fresh celery and a wedge of lime - no more, no less. One thing worth noting though was the glassware. This was the first Caesar I'd seen served in a double rocks glass. No big deal right? Wrong. My bartender informs me that this is the original Caesar glass, the one that Walter Chell used when he invented the drink back in 1969. It's small thing, but a significant one.
There is nothing particularly original about this drink. In fact, the most unique thing about it is its authenticity. This is the closest I'll probably come to tasting what the first Caesar might have been like. The only shortfall is Clamato. It wasn't really available back in 1969. Chell used mashed clams mixed with tomato juice; the drink was inspired by Spaghetti Vongole (spaghetti with clams).
Think of the $6.99 it costs as the price of admission to spend some time in one of the city's true hidden gems. Enjoy the view, the quiet calm, chat up the bartender - the experience alone is worth the money, that it comes with a Caesar as well is just a bonus.
TOTAL SCORE: 18/25 (72%)
Every bar has their own take on what a Caesar should be. The Park Hyatt makes a strong case toward tradition. Yeah, it can't really compete with some of these next generation drinks loaded with bold flavours, but that wouldn't really fly here either. The Roof Lounge is the kind of place you go for comfort, not to be dazzled. It's the place to get a cocktail made the way it's supposed to be made, the way it has always been made and in a way, that's dazzling.
Day 1: The challenge begins
Day 2: Extra horseradish
Day 3: The $3 Caesar
Day 4: A Caesar with chopsticks
Day 5: With a cherry tomato
Day 6: The Irish Caesar
Day 7: The red wine Caesar
Day 8: The Monster Caesar
Day 9: MSG Free