This is David "Dave" Bulters, from Vancouver, head bartender at l’Abattoir and founder of Close Enough Cocktails.
Dave is 32 years old and is originally from Sydney, Australia, where he got a degree in musical theater and was working as an actor. Dave had been to Canada a few times and always loved it here. When he was about to finish a big contract in Sydney, he decided to apply for a Canadian visa. What he thought would take a few months turned out to take only a few days and Dave found himself moving here a lot faster than he thought. That was back in 2014.
Upon arriving in Vancouver, Dave got a job at The Oakwood, where Kelsea Ramage was the General Manager at the time. Dave wasn’t exactly at the level that was expected there, but he got the job anyway and worked pretty hard to expand his skills and knowledge. It was through that process that he developed a huge passion for our industry. Kelsea’s passion was so infectious that it passed on to Dave and made him want to pursue a career in hospitality, even though he was still acting at the time. He ended up working there for three years and taking care of the bar program.
But eventually, Dave couldn’t get another visa and decided to go travel again. He was still very passionate about our industry and if he wanted to stay in Canada, he would have to apply for permanent residency, which was easier to do working in hospitality than in acting. And that was the moment when he let acting go and got a job as the Wine Director at Juniper. That was when he really started to learn about local wines and the meaning of terroir in BC. He also managed to get his permanent residency, and eventually met Emily, his now soon to be wife.
When he met her, she was about to move to London and Dave was having an intense year. He was transitioning from Juniper to Analena, had started to get into cocktail competitions, ended up winning the Jameson one, flew to Bermuda to meet his partner’s family, back in Vancouver to work for a day, and flying straight to Ireland to compete for another few days. It was intense, but it sort of pushed on to where everything was going next. Shortly after that, his partner was diagnosed with Cancer and Dave left Vancouver to go help her in London. After a few months of treatment, they managed to move back to Vancouver together and that was when Dave started to work at l’Abattoir. After the first lockdown, he was offered the head bartender position and took over the spirits and cocktail program, shifting the focus a little bit more on local spirits and now having a local product on every cocktail listed on the menu.
It was also during the first months of covid that Dave came up with Close Enough Cocktails. At first, the idea was to make twists on classics, and that sort of progressed into focusing more on local alternatives to spirits that are already out there from around the world. Then after one cocktail video a day for 40 days, Dave expanded his page to also include bartending techniques and easy solutions for ingredients or tools that most people don’t have at home. Today, Close Enough Cocktails aspires to be more of a resource for people for everything cocktail and spirits-related, with a focus on local ingredients and simple alternatives for home bartenders. If you don’t already follow the CE Cocktail page, we highly recommend you do. Dave’s passion is contagious and his platform is definitely worth a detour.
A little bit more about Dave...
The three words that describe him best: loyal – kind – determined
One bottle to bring on a desert island: Navy strength gin.
The first drink that made him fall in love with cocktails: The Grasshopper.
One thing he still hasn’t done on his life to-do list: Do a big boat trip, being out to sea for a long period of time.
The biggest lesson that working in hospitality taught him: Don’t make snap judgments, because people can surprise you.