Walter Chell (1926-1997), a Montenegro-born emigrant to Canada, arguably invented Clamato juice, and definitely invented the Bloody Caesar in 1969 while working for the Calgary Inn. He was asked to invent a drink for the forthcoming grand opening of Marco's, the hotel's Italian restaurant. The beverage was supposed to go with Mediterranean food, and Chell naturally thought of tomatoes and seafood. After extensive experimentation, he created a spicy variation on the Bloody Mary, with the principal difference being that he had squeezed the juice from clams and added it to the mix. Not only have Canadians discovered insulin production and invented the goalie mask, we may be the first people to think squeezing clams and drinking the extract is a good idea. The Calgary Inn later became the Calgary Westin; the birthplace of the drink currently goes by the name Owl's Nest Lounge.

An oft-repeated legend claims that Chell originally named the drink a "Caesar," and only added the "bloody" after a British customer pronounced the drink "bloody good!" Given the beverage's similarity to the Bloody Mary, this seems more like Chell-fabricated bartender lore.

The Bloody Caesar went on to become Canada's National Drink and the Official Cocktail of the Calgary Stampede. Only in recent years has it made its way across the border. Many Americans have never heard of a Bloody Caesar. In 1991, a friend of mine asked for one at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and received a blank stare.

Shortly after the debut of the Caesar, Duffy Mott of Mott's invented Clamato juice. After an extended legal dispute, the company settled with Chell and even hired him to promote the product. Most people now mix the Caesar with Clamato, although many upper-scale Canadian grocery stores actually carry clam juice for those who insist on making Caesars from scratch, but who do not fancy grinding clams by hand.

In 1972, Chell was transferred to work at the Westin's Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. He and his wife returned in 1975, and worked at the Toronto Westin until he retired in 1990. He died in 1997 after losing a lung to cancer.

Although he did not receive any royalties from the millions of Caesars consumed annually, he received money from the Mott's deal and achieved fame of sorts as the creator of the popular libation.


Duff Conacher. More Canada Firsts. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1999.

John Robert Colombo. 1000 Questions About Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2001.

Ontario Genealogical Society.

Charlene Rooke. "You Say Tomato, I Say Clamato." EnRoute Magazine July 2004.

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