Food

Do you know how these Canadian drinks came to be?

Quintessential quenchers and their “only in Canada!” backstories.

Quintessential quenchers and their “only in Canada!” backstories.

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After posting our article on 7 Canadian snacks you can't get in the U.S., we were met with a wave of reader hunger, patriotism and even some anger (yes, we left out Dunkaroos, I'm sure we'll do a sequel). Now that your snack sodium content is through the roof, you're probably a little thirsty. What better time to round-up some quintessentially Canadian beverages. With it being National Caesar Day (yeah, that's a thing) and with summer practically upon us, sit back and enjoy these very Canadian quenchers and their sip on their backstories.

Bloody Caesar

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Many Americans assume the Bloody Caesar is the same as a Bloody Mary (we just wanted to sound more polite), but any Canadian will tell you that it's an entirely different drink and many consider it our national beverage. Invented in 1969 at Calgary's Westin Hotel (formerly the Calgary Inn), bartender Walter Chell was tasked with creating a signature drink for the hotel's new Italian restaurant. Being Italian himself, Walter created this concoction of clam broth, tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce, hailing it "the Caesar" in honour of his heritage. Legend has it, a drinking patron praised the Caesar as a "bloody good drink", which is how it got its prefix. The clamato juice (tomato juice/clam broth concoction) was invented later that year and, while the base ingredients remain the same, there are endless twists and toppings out there to personalize the experience. As mentioned, May 18th (the Thursday before the party-filled long weekend), was declared National Caesar Day, with parties all over the country, so make sure you get "well hydrated".

Screech

(Quilts by Jen)

If you've never heard of Screech, go to Newfoundland and you'll find fast!  "Screeching In" is a Newfoundland tradition, by which tourists (such as Jen from Quilts by Jen, shown above) are indoctrinated as honorary citizens. The ceremony can only be performed by an actual Newfoundlander, often wearing a sou'wester hat and rain coat (or in Jen's case, the tourst is made to wear the ensemble), who makes the applicant eat a piece of "Newfie steak" (baloney), kiss a whole fish (traditionally a cod) and exclaim "long may your big jib draw" (essentially meaning "may there always be wind in your sail") before downing a shot of the notorious rum. The actual drink has just as eccentric an origin. Demerara Rum, from the West Indies was a big hit in Newfoundland, so much that it could be sold in unlabelled bottles. During World War II, an American stationed in the province wanted to sample the local drink. Post-shot, the American let out a loud screeching noise and the name stuck. The rum is now mainly imported from Jamaica but is still blended and bottled in Newfoundland.

Canadian whisky

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Canadian whisky has a long, rich history, tracing back hundreds of years. With a heavy Scottish influence (and spelling, whisky without an "e"), Canadian whisky often uses corn, barley and rye as the base grain ingredients. The first distillery was opened in 1769 in Quebec City and the production of the drink quickly grew across the country. During the prohibition years (in both the U.S. and Canada), the consumption of the drink was outlawed, but the production of it only grew, becoming one of the most prominent smuggled drinks into America, creating hubs out of international waterway towns like Detroit and Windsor. With countless varieties and blends available now, Canadian whisky has always remained a highly enjoyed drink both nationally and worldwide.

Caribou

Aboriginal Canadians are believed to have first drank caribou blood to keep warm post-hunt and the idea was adopted by French settlers, who introduced alcohol into the mix. Today, Caribou (often hand-mixed but now sold in stores in Quebec) is a little different. If you've ever caught a chill at the Festival Du Voyageur or the Carnaval De Quebec, you might have tasted the warming effects of this French Canadian classic usually consisting of sherry, port, whisky and vodka, sweetened with sugar or maple syrup. Though it can be served hot or cold, it's easy to see how the Caribou is predominantly a winter drink.

Ice wine

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At least the Canadian cold is good for something. Ice wine is made when grapes freeze, still on the vine. The water in the grapes freezes, but the sugar does not, leading to a smaller concentration of wine with a much sweeter taste. The delicate, complicated process of making ice wine is attempted in other regions of the world, but due to the consistent cold of Canadian winters, we have become the leader in the field. Though originally a German creation in 1794 (after a freak frost froze the grapes), it wasn't until 1973 that Walter Hainle produced the first North American ice wine in B.C. Since then, Ontario has become the largest (and most renowned) ice wine producer in the world, with the vast majority being produced in the Niagara Region. 

The Raymond Massey

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If you've never heard of the drink (or the man), you're missing out on some very refreshing sophistication. The drink (seemingly a twist on a Tom Collins or French 75) consists of Canadian rye whisky (2oz), ginger syrup (.5oz, ideally handmade by heating ginger root, sugar and water) and champagne (5oz), garnished with lemon or lime. The man is Toronto-born and an Academy Award Nominee (for playing Abraham Lincoln, a role he also played on Broadway and on television), who is best known for his role in the 1960's NBC show Dr. Kildare and for his classic theatrical voice. Massey also holds the distinction of having two stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame - one for film and one for television. Though it's not known if the actor actually created or enjoyed the drink, the Raymond Massey is a Toronto staple and is hard to sip without feeling a little classier.


RJ Skinner is an actor, writer and pro wrestler, so he rants and raves in various states of undress. Follow him on IG @rjcity and if you're feeling crafty, behold the Cynical Crafter.

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