Store devoted to the Caesar cocktail set to open in Calgary next year

A Calgary woman plans to open a liquor store that only sells Caesar cocktail ingredients to promote Calgary as the birthplace of the savoury drink. (Rachel Drinkle - image credit)
A Calgary woman plans to open a liquor store that only sells Caesar cocktail ingredients to promote Calgary as the birthplace of the savoury drink. (Rachel Drinkle - image credit)

Many already know one of the nation's most beloved cocktails, the Caesar, hails from Calgary.

But local event planner Rachel Drinkle believes Calgary isn't doing enough to cash in on this historical fact — or showcase it to visitors.

For example, she says a town in Ontario has claimed a spot in the Guiness World Records book for largest Caesar cocktail, notoriety she believes is misplaced.

So Drinkle is making it her mission to help Calgary proudly promote this story of origin, by opening a boutique liquor store that will sell Caesar-making ingredients only.

"I was like, you know what would be great, a one-stop Caesar shop for all Canadians to come and visit when they're in Calgary, and for us to ship out across the country and across the world," said Drinkle.

Drinkle, who chuckles about her Old English name, which means to drink, says the idea came to her as she was planning Calgary's first annual YYCaesarfest earlier this year.

She says she discovered a whole host of Canadians selling everything related to the cocktail: rim salts, seasonings and flavoured vodkas and gins.

"You're not going to see any American tomato clam juice makers … it's really going to be that focus of supporting local."

Rachel Drinkle
Rachel Drinkle

Tourist stop

Tourism Calgary says it often shares the Caesar story as it promotes Calgary as a tourist destination.

"People love to hear this story about how it was invented in Calgary … and it always gets a wonderful response," said Jeff Hessel, senior vice-president of marketing for Tourism Calgary.

In 1969, bartender Walter Chell was asked to create a signature drink to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant in the Calgary Inn, which is now the Westin.

Chell died in 1997, but his classic Caesar recipe has become a staple of just about every bar in Canada.

Hessel says Tourism Calgary would work with Drinkle to highlight the liquor store to tour operators.

"We would absolutely build on this," said Hessel. "This would be a great stop along the way for people to try some things out and probably to pick up a few ingredients so they can go home and make some Caesars back where they come from."

Drinkle specifically chose an Inglewood location because it's the city's oldest neighbourhood and it has a rich history with several breweries and unique stores.

She is still waiting on final city approval following public consultation before she can proceed renovating the storefront on Ninth Avenue S.E.

If everything goes as planned, Drinkle says, she'll open the Caesar Shop in early spring 2023.

"I really want to make the Caesar the Manhattan of New York, or the Sazerac of New Orleans.… We just really need to start taking ownership of the Caesar."