Local distillers and distillery owners meet their public at some happy hours at Bastille Café & Bar.

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Happy Hour |

Recently, at Bastille Café & Bar, my happy-hour gin cocktail came with the distiller standing in front of me, behind the bar.

The distiller was holding court, talking about juniper notes and laying out samples of all the botanicals in his gin. It was as if I had Googled his gin on my BlackBerry.

It’s “Meet the Producer Happy Hour” at this Ballard bar, where a local distiller or distillery owner comes and leads tasting or hands out tasting notes, much like a winemaker.

It’s a new world order for craft distilleries since the liquor-privatization law took effect last month. Distillers now hawk their booze with tasting samples and discounted cocktails.

Bastille has even built an event around it during happy hour, featuring cocktails made from a local spirit and allowing the distillers to mingle with patrons.

On July 16, Bellevue-based Novo Fogo will be featured, with local bartender Jay Kuehner making discounted cocktails with the South American spirit cachaças during happy hour.

Pacific Distillery will do the same Aug. 13. This Woodinville-based distillery makes one of the best gins in the West Coast and one of the best absinthes in the country. Patrons can sample both or order $8 cocktails made from these spirits.

Held at least twice a month, the “Meet the Producer Happy Hour” runs like any other happy hour, only patrons get to pepper the distiller with questions such as, “What’s the difference between vodka and gin?”

The nibbles are reasonably priced, from a trio of buttery cream puffs stuffed with beef cheek ($5) to some interesting tartines, such as toasts done banh-mi style ($2). Bar man Erik Carlson, who put Moshi Moshi on the map as one of the city’s best cocktail programs, now runs the front and back bar at Bastille.

Bastille Café & Bar, 5307 Ballard Ave. N.W., offers happy hour daily at 4:30-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-12 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday (206-453-5014 or bastilleseattle.com).

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.