There are many Canadian behaviors that we don’t approve of, such as watching curling, spelling theater “theatre,” and drinking out of a shot glass that contains a freeze-dried human toe (no, we’re not kidding). But our neighbors to the north also have some great ideas like hockey, universal health care, Rick Moranis and The Kids In The Hall. They were also right on the money when they decided to add clam juice to a Bloody Mary, creating the delightfully briny Bloody Caesar.
A brunch-tastic mix of vodka, tomato juice and clam juice (or Clamato if you want to be quick about it), the Bloody Caesar is undeniably good—unless you’re allergic to shellfish. But good just doesn’t cut it here at Supercall. We needed to know if clam juice really was the best shellfish broth for cocktails. To the Supercall Lab!
We made five different shellfish broths from scratch—oyster, lobster, shrimp, mussel and the classic clam. Then we made each into a Bloody Caesar and ran it by a panel of tasters to find out exactly which broth is best. Read on to find out which briny broth reigned supreme.
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Turns out there’s a reason no one makes oyster broth. We steamed a dozen whole oysters in two cups of water for just a few minutes to create the broth. This caused our kitchen to reek like the inside of a fisherman’s boot—for hours. Amazingly, the cocktail managed to tame that swampy scent. The Bloody Caesar made with oyster broth had a bright salinity and salty tang. While it was not unanimously beloved, it did have some fans. That said, we have no interest in subjecting our kitchen to that odor again.
The Bloody Caesar’s original broth buddy, clam broth was a pleasure to make (we even wound up with some tasty bivalves to snack on) and, as expected, a great addition to the drink. Vibrant and clean, it highlighted the sweetness in the tomato juice. Using homemade clam broth as opposed to storebought Clamato drastically reduced the saltiness of the cocktail, though, so you might find yourself reaching for the shaker if you like your Bloodies extra savory.
Having never seen mussel broth used anywhere before, we were a bit skeptical. On its own, the foggy broth didn’t taste like much, but in the cocktail it was spectacular. Slightly sweet, very mellow and not at all briny, it made for a round, robust Caesar. Its creamy notes sung in harmony with the tomato juice and high-fived the spritz of lemon.
The rosy hued shrimp broth was hard to miss—both out of the cocktail and in it. Extremely shrimpy—almost to the point of being a boozy, cold shrimp bisque—the shrimp Bloody Caesar is for die-hard shrimp lovers only. And even then, proceed with caution and an extreme appetite for scampi.
We were excited about lobster. “How luxurious,” we thought, “How decadent.” But the crustacean fell flat. We made the broth by first steaming lobsters, then removing the meat, crushing the shells and cooking those with some of the reserved lobster steaming water. So we thought it would be ultra-lobstery. But it was not the buttery bevy of flavors we expected.
While classic clam broth is still a great option, mussel broth was the surprise slam dunk. Give it a try by steaming a one-pound bag of mussels with two cups of water until the mussels open (about 7 minutes). Strain the broth off, cool and store in a jar until you are ready to make your cocktail. When that exciting time comes, combine one part mussel broth with four parts tomato juice to make what we call “tomussel juice” and mix your Bloody Caesar as usual.