The great Toronto Caesar challenge: final results
What can one learn from consuming 14 caesars in 14 days? Well, for one, a caesar a day habit isn't so unappealing, and after giving it a go it actually sounds downright reasonable. I can actually say without a doubt my affinity for them has increased over the course of the challenge, something that I wouldn't have predicted two weeks ago.
Another thing is that the pedigree of caesar available in this town is pretty significant; each place had something remarkable and/or redeeming about it. Whether it's a new flavour, a killer price point or an innovative garnish, there wasn't a place on this list that didn't impress to some degree. So the question remains, who won?
Well, on points alone that designation belongs to Fynn's of Temple Bar and their Monster Caesar. But to be honest, the points aren't necessarily the final determining factor in this competition. So to be fair, there will be a winner for each category - taste, presentation, originality and value - and then one final Best in Show award for the one that managed to pay best attention to all four. Lets begin.
Czehoski: The red wine Caesar
Red wine just belongs in a caesar. Brash? Yes, but it's also true. You can make one without and it will still be great, but the thing is, it just won't be as great. That splash of red wine acts as this incredible binder to the other ingredients, cutting through the acidity and creating a more robust, more complex and frankly, more delicious cocktail. It's not just an achievement in mixology, it's an achievement in alchemy.
Mildred's Temple Kitchen: The Caesar with chopsticks
Few Caesars demand the same kind of attention as Mildred's. The remarkable thing about this caesar is that there isn't really anything particularly new about it in terms of ingredients. But what they've done with those ingredients is nothing short of remarkable. It's the creativity that is so appealing here. Shaved celery sitting on top of a Caesar served in a mason jar with chopsticks wedged to the side and a smoky rim that's good enough to eat all by itself. It's a drink that is as interesting to look at as it is delicious to drink.
Fynn's of Temple Bar: The Monster Caesar
It seems almost unfair to compare Fynn's with the rest of the pack. With eight different caesars on the menu each consisting of unique house infused spirits and syrups, there's simply just nowhere else like it and the Monster Caesar is the daddy of them all. Bacon vodka, Makers Mark bourbon, Lamb Jus, mesquite syrup and bacon rim salt along with all the stuff you'd expect to find in a Caesar and a sprig of rosemary in the garnish makes this one in a category all its own.
The Lakeview: The $3 Caesar
This one's a no brainer. You can't even get a shot of vodka in most places for $3 and you can actually almost get five (5!!) of these for the same price as the most expensive caesar on this list. It's bare bones, and isn't dressed up to impress, but come on - it's three bucks! But be warned, this is weekend brunch price only. During the week they'll try and gouge you for the mighty sum of $4 which makes this both the first and second cheapest caesar on the list.
BEST IN SHOW
The Avro: With an umbrella
I know, what a shocker! The Avro is the Arcade Fire of caesar awards and while they may not be the obvious choice, they're the right one. Here's why: The Avro does everything right. It's that simple; to win competitions all you need to do is everything right.
For starters, the glass is the right size (240 to 350ml) and it's pretty unique. Proper glass size ensures a proper ratio of booze to Clamato, that ratio then provides the proper base to add accent flavours like, oh, Worcestershire (lots) and Tabasco (a little) as well as a hint of horseradish (optional) and a splash of red wine (essential). Once complete it's garnished with a pickle, cocktail onion and an olive all skewered with a cocktail umbrella. It's simple, elegant, unique and playful. It's exactly what a good cocktail should be.
Oh, and it's also $5.25 which makes it the third cheapest caesar on the list after the Lakeview and, uh, the Lakeview.
The complete list:
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
Day 10: The Classic Caesar
Day 11: The Cajun Caesar
Day 12: The Tandoori Caesar
Day 13: With an umbrella
Day 14: The Pickled Caesar