This year, Whatcom County’s perfect summer seems to have no end. Nearly every day, the sun shines brightly in a sky of pure blue, and locals and visitors alike are squeezing every bit of enjoyment out of it. On such picturesque days, we humans seem drawn toward the water—to walk beside, swim in or float on top of it. Or, if you’re like my friends and me, to have some cocktails in a waterfront setting. There’s no better way to cap off a busy day, whether you’re vacationing, hanging with family or just relaxing after work.
Our search for waterfront libations took us to opposite ends of Bellingham Bay. We first hit Keenan’s at the Pier for happy hour. Keenan’s is located inside the Chrysalis Inn, near Fairhaven. The lovely, plant-filled terrace offered the standard Bellingham Bay vista—meaning, nothing short of spectacular! Wood tables lined the deck railing, with umbrellas to keep your ice from melting too quickly in the full-on sun.
We were lucky to claim the comfy cushioned seating area surrounding the fire pit, where we settled into our drinks.
One friend enjoyed a glass of Prosecco, while the rest of us got into a few of their specialty cocktails:
Nuestra Paloma: Tequila, Cointreau, elderflower, lime, grapefruit, angostura bitters.
Eau de Sidecar: Bellewood Acres Eau de Vie Apple Brandy, Cointreau, lemon.
Penicillin, “Keenan’s Medicine”: Single malt scotch, blended scotch, honey, lemon, ginger beer.
Since it’s never a good idea to drink without noshing, we also ordered a hummus plate and the beef sliders.
The setting certainly enhanced the food and drink; we were surrounded by the sparkling blue water of Bellingham Bay, with views of Taylor Dock and Lummi Island. I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful spot.
Keenan’s at the Pier, 804 10th St, Bellingham, WA
Keenan’s on Facebook
Happy hour: 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. $1.00 off beer and wine. Do note that Keenan’s only serves food and drinks on the outdoor terrace until 6:00 p.m. After 6:00, no food is served, but patrons may place cocktail orders at the window.
We next headed over to the other end of town, to the Lighthouse Bar and Grill, located inside Hotel Bellwether at Bellwether on the Bay in Bellingham. It seems that waterfront hotels have the best views; how lucky for us when they also have a bar!
From the Lighthouse, our view from the patio gave us a closer look at Lummi Island, along with downtown Bellingham and Sehome Hill, and the boats docked in the adjacent marina. Sadly, we arrived just after happy hour ended. But the sun was still high in the sky, and the deck was warm and sunny, so we were happy enough!
First things first: we ordered a round of drinks, which included a cucumber martini, an Old-Fashioned, rosé sangria and a Sidecar. Since the Lighthouse makes a variety of infused liquors, including a blueberry-blackberry-mint-infused rum, I had to try the blueberry mojito, which was fruity, but not too sweet, and perfectly refreshing.
After a few sips of our drinks, we ordered appetizers, including a fresh-tasting pea hummus, pulled pork sliders, yam fries and a hazelnut veggie burger. Everything was great. The veggie burger was topped with about a half-dozen slices of avocado, which made it a “10” in my book.
After we cleaned our plates, Mira, the Lighthouse restaurant manager, brought us a taste of their strawberry-infused tequila (which would make one tasty Margarita), as well as the rosemary lemonade, made with rosemary-infused vodka. We all enjoyed the fruity, herby goodness.
The Lighthouse has a nice happy hour menu—so I’ll definitely have to come a little earlier next time. Several nicely priced starters would go nicely with their champagne cocktails, martinis, and an impressive selection of red and white wines by the glass.
They also feature a Wednesday night “Girls’ Night Out,” which includes four appetizers and four cocktails for $40.00. What a bargain! Looks like I’ll have to coerce three—or seven—of my lady friends to help me report on that one.
The Lighthouse Bar and Grill, One Bellwether Way Bellingham, WA
Lighthouse on Facebook
Happy hour: 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. to closing every day. All day on Sunday. Wine specials include $4.00 glasses of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling and Salmon Creek selections, assorted martinis for $6.00 and other cocktails for $5.00.
Trust me, before summer fades off into the sunset and the leaves start falling, you owe it to yourself to indulge in an afternoon or evening at one of Bellingham’s lovely waterfront patio bars. And even if the temperature starts to dip, not to worry! Fire pits and patio heaters will take the chill off. And as we made our way out of the Lighthouse, I noticed the servers handing out cozy blankets for patrons to wrap around their shoulders. It could be the ideal way to watch the sun go down on another perfect Bellingham summer day.