Local and Inventive Shot-and-a-Beer Pairings

By AJ Rathbun


March 30, 2017

For most of drinking history, the pairing of a specific spirit or liqueur shot and a specific beer has been the minority, while just having a slug of whiskey and whatever beer’s on hand the majority. But here in Seattle, where we have the most creative bartenders in the world, more and more spots are being particular in their pairings, really digging into why the two picked parts of the combo sing well together – while having fun with it, because tossing back a beer and shot should always be fun. Below are four shot-and-a-beer pairings worth searching out.

Novo Fogo Chameleon Cachaça and Duchesse de Bourgogne Sour Ale, No Anchor: It’s not a surprise that this still-new (but already beloved) Belltown spot has a memorable pairing; the bar has quickly become known for its interesting beer choices, and small-but-curated spirits list. Bartender/owner Chris Elford said about this one, “The sour bite and dark fruit notes of Duchesse match the intensity of the cachaça without overpowering it. The funky flavors of Chameleon play with the funkiness of the beer, and both have light vanilla barrel notes that really sing together.”

Pelinkovac and Bale Breaker Pale Ale, Saint John’s Bar and Eatery: Since opening way back in early 2012, this Capitol Hill bar (with perhaps the loveliest back patio in town) has offered a tempting “Shot and a Schoon” menu, currently with five total options. The pairing here is called The Healer, and uses Croatian liqueur/digestif Pelinkovac, which is herbally and a little bitter, and not well-known here (it’s a distant cousin to the likes of Italian amari). As for the partner, it’s Yakima brewery Bale Breaker’s pale ale, which has a smooth bitterness of its own.

Camarena Blanco Tequila and Pacifico, Rocco’s: This Belltown pizzeria, cocktail and spirits haven has a small Beer & Shot menu, and with beer and pizza being a dandy combo in its own right, it shouldn’t probably catch anyone off guard. Since it’s spring–even if it hasn’t completely felt like it yet–I’ve gone for a combo that nods to sunnier climes. A suave silver, or blanco, 100% Blue Agave tequila, the Camarena brings a fresh brightness of herb and spice notes, matching Pacifico’s light pilsner nature in a manner that will have you forgetting the clouds in no time.

Underberg and a Rainer, Good Bar: A happy hour menu hit, this harkens back to the more traditional beer-and-a-shot combos in its usage of the awesome light American lager Rainer, a beer which I’ll bet began the love of beer for many in the region, though some may sadly not admit it now! Underberg, if you don’t know, is a very bitter German digestif, which comes in a small bottle with a green cap. Historically had after eating too much, usually you drink the whole bottle at once. At this Pioneer Square bar, to savor the pairing, I’d suggest doling it out in thirds with Rainer swigs between.

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