The great Toronto Caesar challenge: the $3 Caesar
Going into day three I'm beginning to think the Caesar a day routine is something I should consider maintaining indefinitely. It's the perfect morning ritual, but not necessarily just for mornings.
In my past life as a bartender, I'd always find it odd when people would order Caesars after an appropriate brunch hour, something about tomato-based drinks just seems more suited to the a.m. I can admit though, I was wrong. The drink should be celebrated at all hours and thanks to places like The Lakeview, it can be (save of course, for those unfortunate hours between 2a.m. and 11a.m., when they'll have to be virgins).
Thanks to the Lakeview's "never closed" policy, it's that much easier to find a fix, but is it worth it? Lets see:
To be honest, the best description for a Lakeview Caesar is "meh". It's not bad, it's got all those necessities: vodka, Clamato, Worcestershire and Tabasco, but it's just kind of there. The beauty of a great cocktail is in balance, finding the harmony of flavours where every piece contributes to form a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts. This one was more like a Clamato cocktail rather than a Caesar.
Part of the problem is the bartender's timid hand when it comes to the other ingredients, but the other issue is that it's in a big glass with lots and lots of ice so before you're halfway through you're got translucent, vaguely seasoned tomato water.
Every Caesar everywhere should at least have a wedge of lime and a stalk of celery. The only time when a Caesar should not be accompanied by these things is when said celery is wilted and rubbery or the lime dry. Thankfully, The Lakeview passed this test. But be warned bar men and women, better to not garnish at all than with substandard produce.
Regardless, The Lakeview made the minimum requirements and that's appreciated. Other additions are always welcome, but celery and lime is just necessary. I couldn't' tell you what it is precisely about celery and Clamato, but they were just meant for each other. The crisp, freshness of the celery is the perfect companion to cut through that richness.
Unfortunately, this is where the stumble occurs. There is just nothing that really stands out here. There's nothing wrong with abiding by tradition, but it's important to be bold even when being familiar there's just nothing memorable here.
Drop the phone; I spoke too soon. That's right, while I've been bouncing around paying double digits for a decent Caesar, the Lakeview has been practically giving them away. At $4.00 I can almost buy three of these babies for the price of a Drake Caesar. Sure it's a pretty standard one, but wait - no it isn't, it's utterly unique! It is the most reasonably priced cocktail in the city and what's more, on the weekends it's even a dollar cheaper. A $3.00 cocktail is virtually extinct these days, congratulations Lakeview you officially have the best deal in town.
TOTAL SCORE: 16/25 (64%)
I hate that this always ends up coming down to price, but in this case there's not much else to say. A $3.00 cocktail is a damn good deal; it's enough to excuse the lack of imagination in the drink itself. And honestly, it's a fine Caesar, just a little bland. But that's fixable; to make it a great one could just be a matter of instructing the server on how to make it. A simple "extra spicy, extra Worcestershire" might add a couple points here and really make it a contender.
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