Wondering what happened to the Oyster Bar at Bayou on Bay? Or are you just in the mood for an authentic oyster house, where you can load up on food and cocktails in a comfortable space? Either way, head straight to Rock and Rye Oyster House on State Street in Downtown Bellingham.
Everyone who loved the old Oyster Bar but had a hard time squeezing in during busy times will be happy to know they can spread out in this new, bigger space, and still get the same great cocktails. And as one would expect, Rock and Rye’s menu is chock full of oysters—from Kumamoto to Hama Hama (and mostly from Washington).
But as you may have noticed, this is a booze blog, so we’re going to (mostly) skip that side of the menu and proceed directly to the reason we were there—Happy Hour.
Everyone deserves a little reward for working hard every day, and at Rock and Rye, rewards come in the form of nicely mixed cocktails at easy-on-the-wallet prices. Between the eight of us, we managed to cover the table with several of the rotating happy hour specials (these are Happy Hour prices):
- Spiced and Stormy – Spice-infused rum, ginger beer, lime. $6.00
- Lemon Pepper Rickey – Peppercorn-infused vodka, lemon (lots) and soda. A new twist on the Lime Rickeys of yesteryear. $6.00
- House Manhattan – Bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, twist. $5.00
- House Martini – Gin, dry vermouth, twist. $5.00
- Beer – Wander Petite Monk Table Beer. $4
- Cider – Woodchuck Granny Smith. $4
That’s one great thing about the new Rock and Rye—we had room for eight of us (eventually 10)! I always recommend gathering with a large group of friends, so you can taste everyone’s drink. It’s very helpful when planning your next round. Some of the comments I heard around the table included a wish for a local cider option (Woodchuck is from Vermont, and “a rather pedestrian offering”), as well as an appreciation for the lovely ice cubes in my Lemon Pepper Rickey. Overall, we were very happy with our choices.
The standard cocktail menu shows a nice splash of creativity, and drinks range from $7.00 – $10.00—still quite reasonable. Call liquors are extra, naturally. One might choose from the Nettle Gimlet, the Two Twelve, the Doctor Cocktail, the Hoptonic, the Heart of Oaxaca or many more (with specials and surprises always).
Rock and Rye’s atmosphere is lovely. It’s in the Bellingham Herald building, in a space that once housed the newspaper’s printing press. Inside, it’s all gleaming wood, metal and exposed brick, with natural light streaming in from each end. Old-fashioned light fixtures look right at home, and a beautiful metal staircase takes you up to the mezzanine. And when the weather warms up, you can grab a table outside on the deck.
The bar is 25-feet long and backed by an impressive selection of liquors, liqueurs, bitters, infusions and magical potions—enough to make any pick-me-up one might imagine. Plus, there are 12 rotating beers on tap and a handful of red, white, rose and sparkling wines to choose from.
I mentioned a wide selection of oysters, did I not? You can order ‘em up raw, fried or fixed up all fancy. A half-dozen set my friend back just ten bucks during Happy Hour. Our group also tried a couple orders of thick, hand-cut fries (I’m a fat fry fan), the steamer clams, a brisket slider and the Tom Tom Taco (pork shoulder, in case you’re wondering). The food received mostly thumbs up. Mostly. It was all reasonably priced, which always helps when you’re just out for a mid-week drink-and-snack. I mean, a big bowl of fries for $3.00? Such a deal!
Rock and Rye serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (the menu looks pretty decadent), and Sunday is Ladies Night, with specials on bubbly, house cocktails, cheese plates and chocolate torte. Because we love bubbles, cheese and chocolate, right, ladies?
All in all, Rock and Rye has all the ingredients to make you happy any time of the day, but especially during Happy Hour. I will see you there soon!
Rock and Rye Oyster House, 1145 N. State Street, Bellingham, Washington 98225
Happy Hour: 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. – close
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 3:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Friday: 3:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.