[caption id="attachment_56" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="Cameron Bogue's fine martini - a classic!"][/caption] “Vancouver is an awesome city”, said Cameron Bogue. Awesome, I agree, for many reasons, but for the engaging bar manager at the chic DB Bistro Moderne, the appeal is Vancouver’s strong cocktail culture. “Vancouver has cocktails you won’t find anywhere else in Canada. It’s light years ahead of any other city in in the county.” If anyone knows, it’s Cameron who’s travelled the chic cocktail cities of the world looking for new trends and ideas. But how so? Why Vancouver and cocktail culture? Standing in front of a sparkling array of a good hundred bottles and behind the real zinc bar that gives authenticity to the word “bistro” in the restaurant’s name, Cameron went on to explain that Vancouver’s one of the young west coast cities where fresh ingredients are a given and where there’s no lack of unusual (“crazy” is the word he used) ingredients. Like the city’s history, the crowd’s young, curious and hip, up on the latest trends in ingredients like bitters, tequila, glasses and syrups. Cocktails are a way of getting together with friends, “avant et apres”. But what sets DB (the initials from chef proprietor Daniel Boulud) apart from other bars is its meticulous attention to details. Cameron is very specific about glasses (he likes Riedel): utensils (strains martinis with a julep strainer, shaken drinks with a finer screened hawthorn strainer): ice (likes slow-frozen that doesn’t melt quickly diluting drinks and leaving shards floating on top): juices (freshly squeezed) and syrups (personal creations). And he chooses liquor for its quality and value, not for being the “it” brand of the moment, or simply the most expensive. [caption id="attachment_57" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="Bottles of house-made syrups"][/caption] So when Cameron sets out to make a martini, you know you’re in the hands of an expert. First, a bit of martini heritage. At its creation well over a century ago, a martini was sweeter because both gin and vermouth were then sweeter. (The "dry" in martini, I've learned, was to specify the newly available dry vermouth.) “A martini”, Cameron said as he arranged ingredients behind the bar, “is the quintessential cocktail and should be made with gin, vermouth and bitters.” For gin, it’s Beefeater because it is made with the original 7 botanicals, and he matches the gin with Noilly Prat dry white vermouth, also for its botanicals. The correct ratio is 5 parts gin to 1 vermouth, and the secret of a superb martini every time, is measuring. There’s no eyeballing, or sloppy free pours when Cameron or his staff are behind the bar. Using bar jiggers, Cameron measured out 2-1/2 oz gin and 1/2 oz vermouth with a touch of Angostura Bitters into a 16-oz cocktail mixing glass, added some serious cubes of ice. Then he took a Riedel martini glass out of the freezer, used a neatly trimmed strip of lemon peel (sans bitter pith) to quickly rub the inside of the glass and the outside along the rim – where lips would touch the glass, gave the soon-to-be-martini a good stir, capped the mixing glass with a julep strainer and poured the prefect martini into the aromatized martini glass."Never shaken", added Cameron, "it dilutes the martini." One sip, and...so crisp, a perfect martini.No wonder a classic martini is a cocktail icon. Cameron is the master of many drinks, other well made classics like the Mojito and Margarita and new creations, the Garden Daisy, for example, that incorporates carrot juice and fresh basil leaves for a refreshing vodka drink, or the Fong named for a Vancouver man-about-food-and-cocktails, Nathan Fong. [caption id="attachment_60" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Straining the Garden Daisy"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_61" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="The Garden Daisy in a Riedel martini glass. The slight flair on the top makes for elegant sipping. "][/caption] To make one of Cameron’s cocktails, the recipe for the Mojito is below. The Mojito, he claims is responsible for creating the cocktail craze, so strong in Vancouver, and, elsewhere, doing its best to catch up to Vancouver's awesome reputation. Mojito 12 mint leaves 1-1/2 oz white rum 3/4 oz fresh lime juice 1 oz simple syrup (1 part granulated sugar to 1 part water, boiled, cooled and refrigerated) soda water . Place mint and rum in the bottom of a tall glass and gently bruise the mint with a wooden muddler. Add the lime juice, simple syrup and crushed ice. Stir. Top up with crushed ice and a splash of soda water. Satisfies one.