Ingredients are added for the World Records attempt at the largest Bloody Mary cocktail. (Photo by Angelica Haggert)

Small-town in Saskatchewan seeks to cease CK’s Caesar supremacy

Pain Court could be losing its grip on the prestigious title as home of the “World’s largest Caesar cocktail.”

Officials at Last Mountain Distillery in Lumsden, Saskatchewan just outside of Regina are claiming they are the rightful owners of the celery salt-crusted crown after creating a 750-litre Clamato cocktail over the weekend. That easily tops the 588-litre Caesar that was compiled at the International Plowing Match in Chatham-Kent in September 2018.

Meredith Schmidt, a co-owner of Last Mountain Distillery, told Blackburn News Thursday afternoon the idea for their attempt was sparked by a question from a visitor who was sampling some of Last Mountain Distillery’s famous dill pickle vodka during a tour of their facility back in the spring.

“After I was done giving the tour, one of the people said… ‘You guys must hold the record for the World’s Largest Caesar’ and I kind of looked at him blankly and just said ‘I never thought of that,'” said Schmidt. “I looked it up and saw the [record] that was made out [in Pain Court] and I was like, ‘We’re going to top that! We’re going to do this!'”

From that point on, Schmidt said her focus became beating the bar set in CK, so a team at Last Mountain Distillery put together a 750-litre Caesar on Saturday, July 6, with more than 300 jugs of Clamato juice and dozens of bottles of the distillery’s distinctive dill pickle vodka.

The competition has sparked a strong reaction from some of those involved in Chatham-Kent’s concoction, though — including the owner of the Chatham Breakfast House Brian Machado, who was one of the co-creators of the drink that has become a point of pride in Pain Court.

“We have to stake claim to this record… we worked way too hard — the volunteers worked way too hard preparing it,” said Machado after hearing about the attempt out West. “We are the Caesar capital of Canada and of the world… we have to keep this going.”

However, the rivalry, which appeared to be ramping up early on, may be resolved before it can really take root. Schmidt told Blackburn News Thursday afternoon she’s curbing the cocktail conversation from competition to collaboration.

Schmidt said Guinness only recognizes the International Bartender Association’s (IBA) 77 official cocktails and a Caesar isn’t one of those. That means the record that was set in Pain Court isn’t technically recognized as the distinctly Canadian drink, created in Calgary in 1969.

“We have a bigger thing… forget rivalry, we all need to work together because as you guys probably already know, it won’t be recognized as a Caesar, but as a Bloody Mary,” said Schmidt. “That’s horrible… that is a totally different drink and I am in full-on campaign mode now to fix that.”

Schmidt said when she contacted officials at the Guinness World Records, they told her that the IBA meets in November to review the list of approved cocktails, so that’s what she’s focusing on now and she’s inviting help from Chatham-Kent residents too.

“I don’t think either of us built those drinks to be recognized as a Bloody Mary, right?” said Schmidt. “That’s not Canadian, we want a Caesar… in the record books.”

In the meantime, the title hasn’t officially been handed over to Last Mountain Distillery yet and some are calling into question the legitimacy of their claim.

Among the critics is celebrity chef Bob Blumer. He oversaw the successful world record attempt at the International Plowing Match in Pain Court last year that set the bar for future feats.

“You can beat and break a Guinness World Record in lots of different ways,” said Blumer, who has had a hand in breaking more than eight Guinness World Records. “But if you want to hold your head up high and feel good about what you’ve done, then I think you have to do it the way we did it, which is building a Bloody Mary or a Bloody Caesar from scratch and making it taste delicious.”

Blumer also pointed out that the IPM’s cocktail was made with fresh, locally sourced, ingredients including one tonne of freshly squeezed tomatoes, whereas the Caesar in Saskatchewan was made with pre-packaged Clamato juice. That may not be a requirement, but it’s certainly a point of pride for the chef and his team.

The volunteers who helped prepare Chatham-Kent’s cocktail also spent several hours preparing and mixing their record-setting drink versus the approximately 40 minutes that Schmidt said it took for organizers in Lumsden to pour and mix their drink.

The extra effort from IPM volunteers isn’t going unnoticed by the competition, though.

“[Chef Blumer] is from the food world and I’m from the liquor world, so for me, our dill pickle vodka is a point of pride for our Caesar and, absolutely, for a chef the homemade Clamato juice would be the source of pride for that one,” said Schmidt, adding there were also a lot of people helping with their attempt at the distillery. “What you guys did was totally impressive and different — fresh-made Clamato is a feat in and of itself.”

The vessel that the cocktail was mixed in — and served from — in Saskatchewan is also a point of contention.

Blumer said if he remembers correctly, the record required the drink to be served out of a cocktail glass or something that specifically resembled one.

That’s why, for the attempt in Chatham-Kent, organizers shipped in the same glass that Snoop Dogg used to set a record for the world’s largest paradise cocktail during a performance at the BottleRock Napa Valley music festival in May 2018.

“If they succeed in breaking the record, so be it, but I’m still exceptionally proud of what we did, as everyone in Chatham should be,” said Blumer, adding if Last Mountain Distillery steals the title, he’s not ruling out another run at re-taking the record. “That’s what it’s all about, breaking records and then people breaking your records, that’s the fun part… I believe we still have the glass and if I’m not mistaken there was a lot of room left in it, so it could be done.”

There are other questions, including one of consumption, that will need to be reviewed by officials at Guinness. Officials in charge of Chatham-Kent’s attempt were told that the drink had to be fully consumable, so they sold cups full of their Caesar at the IPM and it was entirely consumed at the event. By contrast, while Last Mountain Distillery did pour out some of their mix for people at the festival, they also handed out some take-home individual bottles of the drink.

As it stands now, Last Mountain Distillery’s claim is officially under review.

“Who knows with [Guinness], right? The timeline they gave us initially, they didn’t really stick to,” said Schmidt, turning the conversation once again to the Caesar vs. Bloody Mary debate. “The more hands that can join together to say, ‘Hey, Caesars should be recognized internationally”… it would be great to get that recognized by November and then set a whole new record.”

Officials at Guinness World Records told Blackburn News that the Ceasar must meet a number of guidelines to break the previous record.  Guinness said the ingredients must include vodka, tomato juice, and Tabasco sauce, the volume and dimensions must be measured by a qualified surveyor, and the Bloody Mary must be entirely drinkable.