There’s a lot to love about weekends: sleeping in, getting together with friends and of course, afternoon happy hour. Now, happy hour is typically enjoyed in the evening after a long work day or week—which is good. As you may have guessed by now, I’m a big fan of after-work gatherings` with drink and food specials. But I submit there is something quite magical about enjoying a couple of cocktails and some appies on a Saturday afternoon. You feel a little mischievous, like you’re getting away with something, especially when you “should” be running errands, engaging in an active pursuit of some kind, or most dreadfully—doing your laundry.
I say everyone deserves a little mischief in their lives, so I set out to find some. For this Saturday afternoon happy hour, I chose a spot that’s a little off the beaten path, but right in the middle of plenty of action—the Fireside Martini and Wine Bar in Bakerview Square.
The Fireside is not a typical “shopping center” bar, which often lean toward the divey side of the scale. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I love dive bars (also, who doesn’t?). But if you’re looking for a more classy vibe—like comfy, overstuffed chairs, leather sofas, coffee tables and an actual fireside conversation area—then you’ve found it at the Fireside.
The bar area features upholstered stools and high tables, which are also comfy enough to settle into for a couple rounds of drinks and food. The menu features pages of each, with outstanding happy hour deals. We’re talking $5.00 martinis, $4.00 house wines and well drinks, and $2.50 schooners of draft beer.
For our first round, we went with a pomegranate martini for me (they also have blackberry, clementine orange and grapefruit available at the happy hour price) and a schooner of Ninkasi IPA for the gentleman. We also ordered a Margherita Flatbread, which like all Fireside appetizers, was $2.00 off during happy hour—a steal at $5.00.
On the specials board, I was intrigued by the Granny Mule, and found out it’s a traditional Moscow Mule made with Granny Strong’s Apple Pie Vodka (distilled right here in Bellingham), along with ginger beer and lime, and served in the traditional copper mug. The MM is one of my favorite cocktails, so I was excited to try this twist—and I was not disappointed. As with any beverage served to me with a straw, it was gone in a very short time.
Since we skipped lunch that day, we decided another appetizer was in order—and at $2.00 off, it seemed the sensible thing to do. I’m not always a spinach-and-artichoke dip fan, but I spied a patron at the bar with an order and it looked too good to pass up.
Turns out, I was right. It was one of the better versions I’ve had, because it wasn’t too salty nor overwhelmingly cheesy. Pretty perfect, especially with the buttered, toasted Italian bread that came with it. And get this: the dip-to-toast ratio was perfect. No lonely leftover bread, and no surplus of dip with nowhere to go. I liked that.
The Fireside Martini and Wine Bar has an extensive drink menu, featuring cocktails both classic—Manhattan, Dark and Stormy, Old Fashioned, Mint Julip and more—and refreshing: Mojito, Mai Tai, Salty Dog. There are also a few dessert-type cocktails for after dinner. The wine selection features mostly Washington wines, including local reds from Coach House Cellars and Vartanyan Estate Winery.
I was also intrigued by the focus on Absinthe, with a handful of drinks made with the mysterious liquor, including Death in the Afternoon (Absinthe-laced sparkling wine) and the Sazarac (a New Orleans classic, with absinthe, bourbon, simple syrup and bitters). The Fireside also has a tradtional Absinthe Fountain that I’ll have to see in action on my next visit!
While it was a little too warm to cozy up to the fire at Fireside, I did spot a sunny patio that will be perfect in a few months. Or at the rate we’re going, in a few weeks!
Whether you are a visitor or a local who’s running your weekend errands or shopping in the Cordata, Bellis Fair Mall, Bakerview or Guide Meridian area, do yourself a favor and stop by the Fireside Martini and Wine Bar for an afternoon happy hour. Or if you’re not feeling super mischievous, stop by after work. Happy hour runs every day from 3:00 to 6:00, which allows for plenty of time to relax, enjoy a fine cocktail and grab a nibble.
The Fireside Martini and Wine Bar 416 W Bakerview Rd. Bellingham, WA 360-738-1000
Hours: Monday – Thursday 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. (or later)
Happy Hour 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.