I am a visitor turned local and I’m biased when I say I love Bellingham. This city is full of character, arts, live music and thoughtful community members. But that is not why I stayed here, it’s the downtown scene. From foodie stops to local shops to coffeehouses and craft cocktail spots, the relaxed nature of Downtown Bellingham always allures me.
Moonrise over Downtown Bellingham. Photo by Josh Shanks
Our downtown is unique because the pace is much slower, yet the late-night scene is lively and growing. You can go out without the cover prices and crowds of Seattle or Vancouver. When you want to catch a show or live music, you will not break the bank. We’re a lowkey city that loves the arts, craft drinks and good food.
As a cider and cocktail lover in a beer town, I am SO ready to have more spots to go around downtown. Here are just a few of the new spots to grab a drink while you’re in Bellingham’s Entertainment District, and they are not in any order because I love them all equally and differently.
Bellingham Cider Co. officially opened Friday, February 9, and I could not be happier. Their opening night was a hit. Tables were full, cider was flowing and beautiful dishes were being pumped out of their kitchen.
Finally, I have a place to go downtown where there is more than just one cider on tap. You aren’t able to get a cider flight yet, but that will be available soon (I will be sure to keep you updated.) I had the pleasure of trying their Blood Orange Cider, the Dry Cider and the NW Blackberry Ginger, which was a treat. They’re all more on the dry side and not so sweet, which is my preference. The blood orange citrus flavor comes through while not being overpowering, syrupy or too fruity. The NW Blackberry Ginger was refreshing but their Dry was hands down my favorite. (Even my tasting partner, who is an avid beer/stout lover, ordered two.) It was fresh, acidic with wonderful apple flavors.
Bellingham Cider Co. has both ciders and beers on tap, they also make cider cocktails. Photo by Sarah Climaco.
Other ciders on tap are the Semi-Sweet and the Pear, as well as ciders from Tieton Cider Works, Locust Cider and Incline Cider. For those who are compromising with the cider-lovers in their life, there is beer, wine and a full bar for you too.
In addition to being micro-cidery, they also have a full bar with a variety of cider-inspired cocktail drinks as well as an apple-focused, seasonally sourced menu for their restaurant. We had the opportunity to try the Kit Breton, which tasted like a fruity popsicle melted in their dry cider – I highly recommend giving it a try. Now their food is equally as incredible, though I am focusing on drinks. You must try their cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli dish, their fries or their chicken and waffles.
I promise you, this will not be the last time I talk about cider in Bellingham. Word on the street is that Bellingham will be expecting a few more cider spots, like Lost Giants Cider Company.
(And for those Primus fans, you must try Single Stroke from Herb’s Cider crafted by the drummer of Primus Tim “Herb” Alexander. They are based in Bellingham, and you can find this bottled cider at bottle shops like Elizabeth Station.)
If you’re looking for a hip spot to get a craft cocktail and street-style tacos, this is your spot. Black Sheep’s tacos are pretty incredible, but I am more drawn to their cocktail menu. With one glance at the menu, you know these bartenders are specialists of their craft.
The More Life was a citrusy treat from Black Sheep. Photo by Sarah Climaco
Their cocktail menu is composed of drinks for all preferences. They have a wonderful margarita selection for tequila lovers, the classic drinks for those who want to keep it simple and then they have their selection of “Originals” for their specialty drinks. I chose to focus on their specialty drinks, though reverting to a Cuba Libre was almost tempting.
I prefer drinks “up” rather than getting ice, so I ordered the More Life (Flor de Caña 7-year old rum, Giffard’s passionfruit liqueur and lime). This was the perfect aromatic beverage to get the night started. Citrusy, sweet and smooth with the aged rum. I was happy with my choice, but I was torn because the Kid Sister (Tanger Novo Fogo, lemon, egg white, Pamplemousse Gifford, and Peychaud Bitters on the rocks) sounded incredible as well. But honestly, I’m excited to try anything on their menu – they definitely know what they’re doing.
I’m already looking forward to my next stop here.
This spot has already become our new watering hole, but that’s probably because they’re conveniently located downstairs from our apartment. The Orion is the addition to the downtown scene that locals have been waiting for. It’s like four steps above a dive bar because of the thoughtful drink menu and beautiful constellations-themed artwork throughout the space. Seriously, you have to stop by here just to soak up all of the painted details – it’s my favorite part. (My second favorite part is the music selection.)
The Gamma Ray from The Orion is the tropical drink that will make you feel like you’re in paradise while in Bellingham. Photo by Sarah Climaco.
The drinks also have a galactic theme, ranging from Orion’s Belt to the Black Hole (those of us who are fond of infamous Peruvian’s from Cap Hansen’s would enjoy this one for sure.) The prices are incredibly affordable and they have a hot dog bar, making this a perfect late-night spot to stop. The open space fits many comfortably while they also have a pool table.
My favorite drink on their menu so far is the Gamma Ray (Malibu rum, spiced rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, Rose’s lime juice and Sprite.) Not to mention, these are some of my favorite bartenders in Bellingham too. The Orion is definitely a spot you must check out, and they have a pool table.
Aslan did it again. I’m not sure how they were able to outdo themselves, but they have by opening this new location.
Aslan Brewing Co. just opened their second location around the corner from their brewery. This space is full of class and offers a wonderful alternative to the Aslan experience by giving guests the feeling they’re in a 1920’s style speakeasy. The purpose of this space is barrel-aging and an event space, and it offers a wide range of beer, cider and wine. (And it’s for the adults only, which I find as a bonus.) The room is filled with beautiful, classy furniture, allowing groups of any size to have a space to hang out and relax.
There are beers and cider on tap, and you can order ciders, beers and wines all by the bottle, as their bottle menu is extensive. I chose to close the night out with a chardonnay.
Though this is not a cocktail bar, I appreciate their attention to detail with the selections on their menu . This space is definitely going to be busy over the next few months, and I look forward to going back.