One of fall’s most anticipated drinks spots is here. Rupee Bar — from the team behind the well-regarded Wallingford seafood restaurant Manolin — opened at 6307 24th Ave NW this week. On the menu are small bites influenced by Sri Lankan and Indian cuisine, such as Kerala fried chicken, bhel puri, dhal curry, and mutton rolls. There’s also an extensive cocktail list heavy on South Asian flavors, including the King Coconut (with bourbon and East India Solera sherry), the Adams Peak (with tea and milk washed arrack), and a barrel aged gin-cardamom concoction called Paan.
Co-owners Joe Sundberg, Rachel Johnson, and Patrick Thalasinos — owners of the well-regarded Wallingford seafood restaurant Manolin — have been planning the new spot in Ballard for more than a year. “The real driving force behind this idea comes from Rachel, who traveled extensively through India and Sri Lanka in her mid 20s,” Sundberg tells Eater Seattle. “The people, experiences, and tastes were life shaping. So, the three of us took a trip to India and Sri Lanka last year with our head chef Liz Kenyon and came back inspired.” While Kenyon runs the kitchen, Thalasinos manages the bar, bringing a mix of both South Asian and Pacific Northwest ingredients.
The space itself — on a quiet block in old Ballard, not too far from the French find dining destination Copine — is small and cozy, with warm blue hues and a bar top made from Oregon black walnut. Sundberg told Eater that the team did the build out on their own, as they continued to run Manolin over the summer, so the finished product took a little longer than they initially anticipated. From the initial look of things, the wait was worth it.