There are many beer bars, wine bars, and cocktail bars across Seattle that do a fantastic job of specializing in their particular form of alcohol. But, I can’t think of any that do a truly great job of featuring all three. Sure, many cocktail bars have a few enjoyable beers on tap or in the bottle, but it is typically more of an afterthought. Beer bars often have a few wines by the glass, but the selection is usually quite limited. You get the point.
Enter Paratii Craft Bar, located on Leary Way, just south of Market St. in Ballard. Named after a seaside town in his native Brazil, owner Sam Hassan has created the type of place where everyone can be happy. With more than thirty house-infused spirits, a unique specialty cocktail list and an experienced bar manager in Michael Kostin, they are rightfully best-known as a cocktail bar. But, they don’t stop there. 20+ mostly international wines are available by the glass, and they have twelve taps for beer, including eight offerings infused with unique ingredients that Sam has made with the help of Big Al Brewing that you won’t find anywhere else in town. It was these special beers that I sat down to taste with Sam last week, and to say I walked away impressed is a bit of an understatement.
It all started several years ago when Sam was running his previous venture, All Nations Soccer Bar & Restaurant, located in the Bitter Lake neighborhood. Alejandro Brown of Big Al Brewing had come in to visit Sam and sell him some beer. Alejandro & Sam share a fanatical love of soccer, and it wasn’t hard for them to strike up a conversation. At some point Sam started telling Alejandro about the various infusions he uses for his liquors, and their idea for combining Sam’s infusions with Alejandro’s beers was created. Once All Nations closed and Sam moved on to open up Paratii, he had the perfect place to feature these types of beers.
For these “Sam & Big Al” beers, Sam comes up with the ideas and creates the infusions using various ingredients, and Big Al takes care of the brewing. They are then combined and some are aged in barrels to add another layer of flavor. Sam is even working on adding some space in his restaurant to have beer aging in barrels. Adding non-traditional ingredients to beer is nothing new, but Sam and Alejandro pull the combinations off wonderfully. Some breweries haphazardly throw some crazy ingredients into a cask of beer and see what happens, but Sam and Alejandro have gone through a lot of experimentation and have really thought these out. The results speak for themselves.
Here are the beers that I sampled on my visit:
Jupiter’s Blood – This was the star of the lineup for me. This sour beer is brewed with sangiovese grapes and aged for a year in just emptied sangiovese wine barrels from Walla Walla Vintners, which is a wine they have available for purchase by the glass at Paratii as well. The tart, fruity combination of flavors is complex and at around 6% ABV still quite refreshing and sessionable. Get this one while you can, as I think Sam mentioned their current supply is dwindling.
True Love – Take a special porter brewed by Big Al and add an infusion of lavender and cacao, and you’ve got yourself True Love. This is an amazingly smooth combination for a beer weighing in at 10% ABV. The chocolate aroma is intense, and the rich brew is actually quite dry and not sweet at all. Very well-executed.
New Yorker – Meant to imitate a Manhattan, Big Al’s golden ale is infused with rye whiskey soaked rye kernels and grape seed molasses.
YPA – Big Al IPA infused with Brazilian Jurubeba fruit and lime peel . Jurubeba has a very bitter taste, but it is kept in check here.
Saci – Big Al Irish red infused with Ballard Coffeworks roasted coffee, nutmeg and cardamom. Loved this combination.
Pererê – Big Al golden ale infused with Ballard Coffeworks green coffee and coriander. The green coffee gives off a very unique flavor that reminds me a bit of green pepper.
In addition to those six, there are two beers that he was currently out of:
Tangerine Dream – Big Al golden ale infused with tangerine peel and Urfa Biber (Turkish sundried pepper).
Irish Lass – Big Al Irish red infused with Braeburn apples and cinnamon and then aged in Woodinville Whiskey bourbon barrels.
The next beer they will be releasing is called Aztlan ( where the Aztec came from), the Moon’s Navel beer (moon’s navel is what Mexica means). Big Al’s Amber is the base, and it is infused with 100% organic, pure cacao, cinnamon, cayenne and hibiscus. Alejandro had asked Sam that they create an infusion with the flavors of Mexican chocolate, and the results sound promising. There will be a release party at Paratii this Wednesday, June 6 starting around 7pm. Both Sam and Alejandro will be on hand, and there will be a special menu of tapas (see below) and live music throughout the night.
With specialty beers such as this, availability of each one can be quite limited and don’t be surprised if some are out of stock when you visit. In addition to these Sam & Big Al beers, the tap list is rounded out nicely with a few offerings from breweries around the corner (like NW Peaks) and around the world (like Veltins).
Sam is one of the friendliest guys you’ll ever meet, and I’m guessing he and his staff will go out of their way to make sure you have a great experience. His love for good food and drink is contagious, and it was a pleasure to sit down at the bar with him and chat about what he is doing at Paratii. It’s amazing that in over a thousand words, that I haven’t even touched on the food (let alone the cocktails and 30+ infusions), which gets just as much care as the drinks here. The food menu features Brazilian-inspired specialties, including a large selection of small bites/tapas. I sampled the Misto Quente, which included ham brought in from Chicago (Bobak’s!) with Dubliner cheese on house-baked bread and an herb tomato relish. Sam also sliced me off a taste of the Hamon Iberico, straight from the pig leg bone sitting at the back of the bar. I’m a man who loves his pork products, and that is some of the best meat I have ever tasted. Beware that what he has left of the Hamon Iberico will not last long.
If you can’t tell from what I’ve written, I’d highly suggest that you take the time to visit Sam at Paratii. Whether you’re looking for those special beers, a unique cocktail or a glass of wine, he’s got you covered.
Aztlan Release Party
Wednesday, June 6th at 7pm
Live music and special tapas menu:
Salud Sin Verguenza
Avocado, Hearts of Palm, Grape Tomatoes Salad
Tequila Mañana Silver, garlic, lime dressing
Pollo, Pollito Te Voy a Comer
(Chicken, Little Chicken I’m Going to Eat You)
Smoked Chicken, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Golden Raisins
Marinated in Tequila Mañana Añejo
Maria me Llama Por la Cama
(Maria is Calling me to Bed)
Grilled Double Roasted Bacon Shrimp
Tequila Mañana Añejo, Sour Cream, Red Onions Sauce
Los Italianos nos Envidian
(The Italians Envy Us)
Braised Pork Tequila Mañana Reposado
Italian Sharp Provolone Crostini
Black Bean, Chorizo, Pork, Bell Peppers, Cilantro Cup
Porque Soy Gordito
(Why I’m a Little Fat)
Three Layer Pavê
- Hibiscus cream
- Tequila Mañana reposado, chocolate, cinnamon
- Tequila Almendrado cream base