6 Powell St., Vancouver
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John "Gassy Jack" Deighton, one of Vancouver's early founders and legendary saloonkeepers, didn't care much for hypocrites.
So even though his public house only served whisky and beer, he'd likely appreciate the ethos behind The Diamond, a new cocktail parlour that now overlooks his memorial statue in Gastown's Maple Tree Square.
"A cocktail should be something you drink because you enjoy the taste of booze," proprietor Josh Pape declares. "People drink great wine because they love the flavour. If you're not doing the same thing with cocktails, it's an unhealthy way to go about it."
Housed in the historic Ferguson Block, The Diamond draws on the romance of the Prohibition era. The space features soaring arched windows, antique wooden chairs, art-deco chandeliers and bartenders decked out in rolled-up sleeves and fedoras.
But there's nothing remotely exclusive about this modern-day gin joint. With an accessible drinks menu (organized into such categories as "refreshing," "boozy," "not so boozy" and "proper"), affordable prices ($7 to $10) and the brand new Diamond Preparatory School For All Things Drink (offering mixology classes to aspiring bartenders and amateurs), the young owners are doing everything they can to educate and increase the ranks of serious drinkers.
And as with many speakeasy-style cocktail bars, now ubiquitous in large cities south of the border, the cocktails predate Prohibition and hark back to the classics, leaning heavily on vermouth and bitters - rather than hiding behind fruit or infusions - to accentuate the fine nuances of pure liquor.
Pape points to the Tequila Martinez, his own twist on the sweet-vermouth Martinez (the original inspiration for the martini).
"It's simple. But it lets the booze do its job." Special to The Globe and Mail
1 1/2 ounces Reposado Tequila
1/2 ounce Bianco Vermouth
1/2 ounce Lillet
Dash of Fee Brothers peach bitters
Combine all ingredients and stir with ice until chilled (about 10 seconds). Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.