Monday, January 22nd, 2018
Guide to Bellingham Cocktail Week
Brandon Fralic

Some readers may recall attending Bellingham Cocktail Week (BCW) during its inaugural run back in 2015. My muddled memory of the launch party goes something like this: I’m sipping my Manhattan (or was it an Old Fashioned?) at Temple Bar while sampling toothpick hors-d’oeuvres served up by cocktail waitresses. There’s a subdued excitement in the air. I’m transported back to 1960 where, for a moment, I’m Don Draper. This single event is just a taste of what Bellingham’s cocktail scene has to offer, and it leaves me thirsty for more.

Thankfully, Bellingham Cocktail Week is back! Running February 1st – 8th, 2018, the citywide event celebrates all things cocktail-related around town. And if BCW 2015 was as fun as I remember, 2018 promises to be nothing short of magical.

Dan Vee, Redlight. Photo: Patrick Beggan

Originally organized by Rebecca Ogden of Redlight, and Chelsea Farmer formerly of Temple Bar, the weeklong celebration went on hiatus for a couple years before this year’s organizer, Sara Holodnick, took the wheel.

As co-founder of Good Time Girls — a local business that hosts “Sin and Gin” tours of downtown Bellingham and Historic Fairhaven — Sara is no stranger to the Bellingham cocktail scene. She partnered with Happy Chap Creative Co. to give BCW a facelift, and the results are as fresh and fun as a French 75.

“Our city is known for its healthy beer scene,” says Sara. “But at Bellingham Cocktail Week, we want to showcase Bellingham’s vibrant cocktail scene and highlight other delicious ways to imbibe responsibly.”

Because of Bellingham’s beery roots, the good folks at Happy Chap Creative asked Bellingham brewers (not bartenders!) their thoughts on the cocktail week. The result, in my opinion, is a brilliant marketing video showcasing the collaborative spirits (pun absolutely intended) of Bellingham’s beer and cocktail scenes.

Even Brewers Think It's OK to Drink Cocktails

Have you ever been subjected to beer pressure? Don't worry, even brewers think it's OK to drink cocktails. We checked!Many thanks to the awesome folks from Boundary Bay Brewery, Kulshan Brewing Company, Aslan Brewing Company, Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen, and Wander Brewing for helping us get the word out about Bellingham Cocktail Week, coming February 1st-8th. Sign up on the website to get notified when the calendar is ready!BellinghamCocktailWeek.com

Posted by Bellingham Cocktail Week on Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why Bellingham Cocktail Week?

The objective of BCW is “to uplift the prestige of bartenders, increase awareness of locally-produced ingredients, and educate ever-curious and increasingly attentive cocktail drinkers.” In other words, it’s a great reason for Bellingham bars to band together and do what they do best.

Melissa Broersma, GAINSBARRE Vin Naturel. Photo: Patrick Beggan

It’s especially great for people like me, who enjoy a cocktail now and then but aren’t really a part of “the scene”. Ever wanted to check out Bellingham’s numerous cocktail bars, but not sure where to start? BCW has you covered: there’s an event every day of the week. Let’s get into it!

Events

Events will take place daily at various venues throughout Bellingham Cocktail Week. Details are still being worked out as I write this, so be sure to check the BCW website for the full schedule. Here’s a highlights reel of featured events to get you started:

Thursday, February 1

6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at BelleWood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian, Bellingham | $15/person

Whatcom County’s favorite farm produces more than just apples. Attend this event and you’re likely to learn a thing or two about creating cocktails with BelleWood vodka, brandy, and gin made from apples grown on the farm.

Join the fine folks at BelleWood Distilling for a fun and educational craft cocktail class and get ready to wow your friends with your cocktail skills! You’ll learn how to make handcrafted, artisan drinks using delicious top-shelf Bellewood Spirits.

You’ll learn how to create five drinks using a cocktail shaker to incorporate the flavors & show you the ease of the shaken method. More effort is used in a “crafted” cocktail to use fresh ingredients. The layers of flavors are incorporated to enhance the complexity of the drink.

This class will give you basic mixing knowledge, tips on how to stock your bar for success and some new courage to try it at home along with their easy-to-replicate recipes.

Black Sheep, 215 W. Holly St., Ste 101, Bellingham

Tiki drinks and delicious street-style tacos? Yes. Please

Come for the debut of a special menu to run the entirety of Bellingham Cocktail Week, along with food specials. Hosted by Jamie Buckman of Edrington Spirits, and Chet Holstein, maker of Kuma Turmeric Liqueur, based in Ferndale.

  • Redlight: A Twist on Classic Rum Drinks

Redlight, 1017 N. State St., Bellingham

Let the magic of rum whisk you away to your own island paradise. Stay tuned for more information!

Friday, February 2

6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at BelleWood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian, Bellingham

Your introduction to infusing Spirits to give your drinks that extra level of complexity. Infusion begins with fresh fruit, but once you get the hang of the technique you’ll be able to use herbs, spices, nuts, dates, figs and flowers to make beautiful custom spirit blends.

As well as infused spirits, you’ll learn how to make one or two blended drinks– the perfect way to make you feel like the sun is shining no matter the weather!

This class will give you a taste of what infused spirits can do, and some recipes to take home to explore for yourself.

Downtown Bellingham’s first Friday art walk is always filled with surprises, so this is sure to be an interesting event. Get out and about for Downtown Bellingham Partnership’s February Art Walk and enjoy beautifully crafted beverages at participating bars. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite pretty drink online whether you drink or not.

Saturday, February 3

5 p.m. – 9 p.m. at northwater, 4260 Mitchell Way, Bellingham

A murder mystery with cocktails at Northwater restaurant and bar inside the Holiday Inn at Bellingham Airport.

Solve the northwater murder mystery by working your way through specially designed and themed cocktails, appetizers, and rooms based on the original game of CLUE. With cocktails inspired by murder weapons, small bites roused by your favorite characters and a tour of the rooms, you can eliminate items and work your way closer to solving the crime.

Molee McGarry, Uisce Irish Pub. Photo: Patrick Beggan

  • Uisce:  Japanese Whisky Tasting

4pm-6pm at Uisce, 1319 Commercial St., Bellingham

Here’s one you don’t see every day: Bellingham’s Irish Pub hosts a Japanese Whisky Tasting.

Sunday, February 4

12 p.m. at Pickford Film Center, 1318 Bay St., Bellingham

A Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Brunch sponsored by Bayou on Bay, coffee cocktails brought to you by Bellingham Coffee Roasters followed by a screening of Wayne’s World. Tickets are $25 and include one Bloody Mary and Brunch. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Pickford Film Center.

Monday, February 5

Miller’s Back Door, 1119 Railroad Ave., Bellingham

This brand new bar in downtown Bellingham is crafting up “comradery and cocktails” just in time for BCW. 

  • Black Sheep: Fernet Branca Industry Appreciation Happy Hour

Black Sheep, 215 W. Holly St., Ste 101, Bellingham

Cheap drinks AND cheap tacos? Count us in.

$5 Fernet and Branca Menta Shots! Fernet Drink Specials! $3 tacos! Come enjoy delicious digestifs with Kent Johnson of Infinium Spirits.

Tuesday, February 6

  • Övn:  More Amari

Övn Wood Fired Pizza, 1148 10th St., Bellingham

Övn is known for its amazing wood fire pizza in Fairhaven. I’m looking forward to possible pairings at this event. 

“Amari” (or amaro when singular) are bitter, herb-infused liqueurs made by infusing spirits with proprietary blends of herbs and aromatics, then sweetened and aged. The result is a complex, bittersweet concoction used as aperitivo or digestivo (served before or after a meal), or to lend balance and brightness to a whole host of delicious cocktails such as the Negroni.

The fine folks at Övn Wood Fired Pizza will be offering numerous amari as apertivo/digestivo, as well as featuring a comparative drink offering, showcasing a few cocktails with different amari to highlight what they each bring to a drink.
All guests will be able to order the featured aperitivo and flips, but the comparative amari drinks and bartender presentations will be limited to bar seating. No tickets are required.

Wednesday, February 7

GAINSBARRE Vin Naturel, 1143 11th St., Bellingham

GAINSBARRErecently opened in Fairhaven as a wine bar and bottle shop. Here’s an opportunity to learn more about Vermouth. Wine + brandy + botanicals = A heavenly drink you should get to know better. 

Vermouth is a wine that has been fortified (read: spiked with brandy), infused with herbs and aromatics and sweetened. The resulting fortified wine can be enjoyed as an aperitif or digestif (before or after dinner drink), or as an ingredient in cocktails such as the Adonis (a low-alcohol cocktail featuring sweet vermouth) or the Martini (a high-alcohol cocktail with a dash of dry vermouth.)

GAINSBARRE Vin Naturel’s Vermouth Showcase is the perfect opportunity to sample vermouth on its own and taste it mixed into a variety of delicious, low-alcohol cocktails. You’ll enjoy vermouth flights, sample cocktails, table-side Q&A with Leith Shenstone of Fasel Shenstone importers, and tasty small meat and cheese bites provided by GAINSBARRE. You won’t want to miss this event, perfect for cocktail and wine nerds alike.

Redlight, 1017 N. State St., Bellingham

It’s Bellingham in February, so… Tequila and mezcal, please.

Temple Bar: 306 W. Champion St., Bellingham

Feeling chilly? Come bask with us in the sunny flavors of rum. Temple Bar is a downtown Bellingham staple for creative cocktails, and the perfect location to cap BCW.

Thursday, February 8

  • Temple Bar: St. George Spirits + Haven Hill Distillery

Temple Bar: 306 W. Champion St., Bellingham

Temple Bar is partnering with St. George Spirits to create a special cocktail menu for the evening, and will also offer Happy Hour Whiskey flights from Heaven Hill Distillery. Matt Harvey (Youngs Market) will be on site as a resource for people to engage and ask questions.

Toast to a fabulous 2018 Bellingham Cocktail Week with happy hour whiskey flights and a special cocktail menu.

 

Riley White-Brainard, Temple Bar. Photo: Patrick Beggan

Make plans now for your visit. We’ll post more specifics as soon as they’re available. Cheers!

For more activities happening in Bellingham see our full events calendar.

**We will be updating this regularly, as the event details are updated.

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About the Author:

Freelance writer Brandon Fralic has called Bellingham home since 2006. He writes about the outdoors, travel, and craft beer for a variety of regional publications. In 2013, Brandon co-founded Beers at the Bottom to highlight trails and ales in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.