The bar at Ba Bar, the new noodle joint from Eric Banh (Monsoon, Monsoon East, Baguette Box) will be abundant, to say the least. “We have 175 types of bourbon alone,” said Daniel Jeffers, the guy in charge of cocktails. Early on Jeffers had a notion of keeping things small and simple, but when he walked into the space and eyed the big, beautiful bar—“a temple of alcohol,” as he put it—he knew he’d have to go big or go back to San Francisco.
Jeffers moved to Seattle to work for Banh, before that he was employed in San Francisco. He says rum will be prominent on the 16-drink cocktail menu at Ba Bar, which will include two lists—one of original drinks, another of classic cocktails. But there will also be lots of gin, a carefully picked coterie of vodkas, and, well, a whole hell of a lot of whiskey.
The original drinks will compliment the Vietnamese noodle dishes on offer—not by using Asian ingredients, Jeffers said, but by considering the flavors—savory, brothy, with French influences—and making drinks that compliment those flavors. An example: a cocktail under the working name “Cordial Water” that combines cognac, gin, an extract made with a celery-like seed, fresh lime, and, finally, a gomme Jeffers creates by cooking peach and apricot pits for five days at 250 degrees. The cocktail is “balanced and complex. That’s always the hardest thing to do.” If all this sounds a little intimidating, fear not: Jeffers promised that no drink order will be greeted with an upturned nose. “It’s when people feel comfortable that they are willing to try new things,” he said.
Jeffers characterizes Ba Bar as a “no compromise kind of place,” a fact demonstrated by the food menu. At around $9 an entree, the dishes are considerably cheaper than those at Monsoon and its Bellevue outpost, but Banh is sourcing ingredients just as he does at the pricier restaurants. Food costs will be high. So while the onus is often on the bar to keep a restaurant in the black, that’s especially true in this case.
Two hours before the doors opened on the restaurant’s first friends and family service, the guy behind the bar at Ba Bar seemed up to the task.
Ba Bar starts serving to the public this Thursday, July 7 at 550 12th Avenue. Confidential to Eastsiders: Jeffers has been working with the staff at Monsoon East to update its cocktail menu as well, you might want to check in on that very soon.