by John French
The story goes that the blood of Julius Caesar spilled in 44 BC. Marcus Brutus and other conspirators felt the Roman dictator held too much power so they assassinated him.
From this legendary, historic tale, a cocktail was created.
Enter Scot Curry of Alta Bistro. The bartender combined the base ingredients in a caesar — vodka, tomato juice, clam broth and Worcestershire sauce — Then added a few twists and produced what the judges of the Bearfoot Bistro Bloody Caesar Battle deemed a superior cocktail.
Curry is now $5,000 wealthier than he was before he set out to create his own take on the violent final minutes of the life of Julius Caesar.
The key to the concoction, according to Curry, was smoke.
“I smoked the glass with cedar,” says Curry in the afterglow of his win, a massive fake $5,000 cheque tucked under his arm.
The smoke followed a thoughtful mix of ingredients, techniques and strategic substitutions to come up a cocktail that Caesar himself would have enjoyed. Curry says he replaced clam juice with beef jus and made a gazpacho with cucumber, celery, garlic, what he describes as “a lot of spices,” and heirloom tomatoes.
The heat in the drink, says Curry, came from horseradish and chipotle peppers infused in the vodka.
He’s telling the story of how the drink came together, and a full 90 seconds into the explanation he’s still well into the details, listing the ingredients and describing the techniques like he’s working off a script written by William Shakespeare.
“I have to give huge credit to my chef, Nick Cassettari,” says Curry. “We did a duck fat poached oyster, which was a huge hit, and we did that with smoked paprika, and we had a piece of chorizo that we caramelized with a blow torch.”
There’s no doubt this caesar wasn’t whipped up in five minutes.
“It took an intense amount of work,” Curry says as he enjoys the attention of a Sunday evening caesar contest win while friends shout congratulatory words in his direction. “Yesterday I got to Alta Bistro at 9 a.m. and I worked on the caesar until my shift started at about four o’clock and then when my shift was done at 12:30 I was there until probably about four in the morning.”
The humble and modest contest winner points out that he’s sure his competition did the same thing. The other competitors were Anna Wallace of Seattle, Justin Taylor from Vancouver, Tia Stonier of The Mix by Ric’s, Christopher Hoy of the Bearfoot and Ryan MacDonald of Vancouver.
According to Curry, this contest is different from other mix events because each bartender was expected to serve 400 caesars through the course of the event. Most other contests, he says, require the production of only four drinks.
While Curry clutches his cheque, Eamon Clark of Toronto holds tight to a similar piece of plastic valued at five grand. He won the World Oyster Invitational for the second time in three years.
Proceeds from the event went to Playground Builders and Whistler Animals Galore, the other big winners of the oyster festival weekend.