A few years ago, I took a cocktail class at The Diamond in Gastown, one of the key establishments propelling Vancouver's bourgeoning cocktail culture. I was hooked - I'm being modest when I say I can shake up a mean whiskey sour. Seriously - ask me next time and I might just make you one.
Considering the city's firmly established reputation yielding some of the finest bartenders in the world (Fairmont Pacific Rim's head barkeep, Grant Sceney, who finished in the top six in this year's Diageo World Class bartender competition in London, England - ahem), it's surprising there aren't many specialty stores dedicated solely to the art (and science) of mixology.
Rod Moore attempted to change that when he opened up The Modern Bartender on one of the main drags of Vancouver's Chinatown neighbourhood. When you step into this store, you realize very quickly it's a sophisticated man cave. Mixology geeks would freak out at the sight of all the bartending tools you can imagine, including various sizes of barrels should you wish to age your own spirits. There's also an entire cabinet dedicated to mixing your own bitters (herbs, bitter bottles, etc.) - they even offer bitter-mixing classes every now and then for the true geeks. If you're too lazy (like me) to craft your own bitter, they have dozens and dozens of bitter collections that rival any bar on earth. In fact, this store is so stocked that many of the pros come here to shop. Look for industrial citrus presses, an extensive reference book collection including PDT (Please Don't Tell) favourites, syrups and citrus oils.
So on a night when you're feeling experimental, hop over to this mixology mecca and you'll be pleasantly surprised with what you can find under one roof. I'll be coming back to this place, maybe even to pick up a barrel or two. I've heard that you can age gin. I'll let you know how it goes.
The Modern Bartender
28 East Pender Street