Caprese Caesar Highball Recipe

Bloody Mary lovers, rejoice! Savory cocktails are making their way into the cocktail mainstream, and for more than just hungover breakfasts. Crafty bartenders are recognizing the opportunity for garden-fresh drinks, in part because of the rise of super-sugary mocktails. In a write-up from CNN, Hong Kong bar The Savory Project is highlighted for its experimental use of mushrooms, clams, and leeks, ingredients you'd barely see in even the most garnished bloody. Another bar, LPM, combines tomatoes and balsamic for a Caprese-inspired "tomatini", something most guests are surprised to enjoy.

Tomatoes? Clams? Vinegar? We know, it's all a little different, but if you already love bloody Marys and micheladas, it's worth giving this a try, too. Based on a Canadian classic, the Caesar, this cocktail developed with Michelle McGlinn is a Caprese-inspired spin on the tomatoey drink. Instead of the Worcestershire and Tabasco typical in a Caesar, here we use balsamic vinegar and mozzarella whey for a zingy taste and mellow texture. Paired with Clamato Picante, the drink becomes a perfect balance of salt, fat, acid, and heat — especially perfect for sleepy Sunday brunches.

The ingredients needed for a caprese Caesar highball

For this cocktail, you'll need a few ounces of Clamato Picante, a spicy chile-infused tomato juice with just a hint of savory clam. If you can't get your hands on the Picante flavor, you can use the original Clamato instead.

You'll also need balsamic vinegar — yes, the one in your pantry — basil, prosciutto, and a container of mozzarella balls soaked in whey. The whey is technically optional, but it will add a delicious silky mouthfeel to the drink. The liquid is found in fresh mozzarella containers and is a cloudy white-ish color. The mozzarella balls (you can use either pearl or ciliegine) are used as a garnish and can be eaten between sips of tomato juice.

The spirit in this cocktail is vodka because the flavor is completely neutral and doesn't interfere with the tomato and vinegar. Finally, you'll top the drink with just a splash of sparkling water to break up the dense tomato flavors.

Prep the garnishes

Because the garnishes are served on skewers, prepare them first so that serving is a breeze. You can arrange the skewers any way you want — all mozzarella, for vegetarians, or layered with basil for a more herbal skewer. Not a fan of prosciutto? Swap it for bacon for a BLT skewer.

You'll also garnish the drink with basil, so spear 1 basil leaf onto the skewer, followed by a mozzarella ball and a piece of prosciutto. Repeat several times to fill half the skewer.

Muddle basil and vinegar

This drink focuses on infusing — that way, no flavor overpowers the other. To achieve a faint herby flavor, gently muddle a few basil leaves with the vinegar to release their flavor, infusing the balsamic. You don't need any elbow grease here because muddling too roughly will bruise the basil. Just a few gentle presses into the vinegar will do the trick.

Add the whey, vodka, and Clamato

If using, add the whey and stir. You'll notice the whey start to curdle, a result of mixing with the vinegar at the bottom. As you stir in more ingredients, the solid bits will start to break up and smooth into the drink.

Fill the glass with ice, then stir in the vodka and Clamato, using a long bar spoon to combine the liquids around the ice. Top the drink with sparkling water and stir gently one more time.

Serving Caprese Caesars

If you have an enthusiastic (aka out of control) basil plant in your garden this summer, now's a good time to give it a trim. Top the drink with plenty of basil, then finish it off with one or two of your premade skewers. Planning to serve these at brunch but don't like the sound of waking up early to punch mozzarella onto skewers? Everything can be made and mixed in advance so it's ready to go when you wake up. You can batch the cocktails by multiplying the amounts by your serving size, muddling all the basil at once, then mixing the vinegar, vodka, and Clamato into a jar or pitcher and storing it in the refrigerator. 

If using whey, add it just before serving to avoid extra curdling. To serve, just pour over ice and top with sparkling water. The skewers can be stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator — we find them best stored in large, sealable plastic bags.

Caprese Caesar Highball Recipe
4.9 from 21 ratings
Based on a Canadian classic, the Caesar, this cocktail puts a Caprese-inspired spin on the tomatoey drink that is especially perfect for sleepy Sunday brunches.
Prep Time
Cook Time
caesar highball on a table
Total time: 15 minutes
  • For the garnish
  • Basil, as needed
  • 6 ciliegine or pearl mozzarella balls
  • 2 pieces of prosciutto, torn into 4 pieces
  • For the cocktail
  • 2 ounces balsamic vinegar
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • 2 ounces mozzarella whey
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 6 ounces Clamato Picante
  • 4 ounces sparkling water
  1. To make the garnishes, spear the basil and mozzarella onto a wooden skewer and push to the bottom. Next, add prosciutto to the skewer, then layer with another mozzarella ball. Repeat until each skewer has 3 mozzarella balls and 2 pieces of torn prosciutto.
  2. To mix the cocktail, first pour 1 ounce of balsamic vinegar into each highball glass. Add 2 basil leaves to each glass and gently muddle. Add 1 ounce of whey each and stir.
  3. Fill the glasses with ice and pour 2 ounces vodka in each. Add 3 ounces Clamato and stir well to combine the liquids in the glass. Once combined, top each glass with 2 ounces sparkling water.
  4. To serve, add the skewered mozzarella to the glasses with a straw, then garnish with extra basil.
Calories per Serving 1,374
Total Fat 81.5 g
Saturated Fat 49.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 325.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 24.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Total Sugars 8.5 g
Sodium 4,264.0 mg
Protein 99.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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