Taylor Melim, L&L Libations
When it comes to crowd-pleasing cocktail bars, L&L Libations is hard to beat— and this is largely thanks to the efforts of Co-Owner Taylor Melim. Melim co-owns both Leaf and Ladle and L&L Libations and comes from “a long line of restaurant people.” She loves creating cocktails with floral notes, teas, and fresh fruits and herbs, and while her recipes might be unique, they’re never inaccessible— and this is by design.
“We like to work with really great flavors, but no pretension,” she says. “We want [L&L] to be a very comfortable, approachable environment for everybody.”
As a result, L&L regulars range from college students to retirees and everyone in between. Melim even takes the idea of inclusion a step further by involving her customers when sourcing ingredients. This summer, for example, she put
out a call for rhubarb in exchange for gift certificates, and customers brought in harvests from their home gardens. Even her lilac syrup was created using local lilac sourced (with permission!) from lawns around Bellingham.
“Some days, owning a bar just means going around in the sunshine and cutting lilac in people’s yards!” she jokes.
Given this community-centric attitude, it’s no surprise that Melim hopes to pay her success forward. She dreams of moving into commercial real estate in order to provide affordable spaces where new businesses— particularly other woman-owned businesses— can thrive.
Current drink of choice: Melim’s current favorite is the Le Tigre, which pairs the aforementioned local rhubarb with
hibiscus tea simple, fresh lime, and a healthy dose of tequila. Refreshing and zesty, it’s the perfect drink for celebrating the last days of summer.
Jessie Polin, Ponderosa Beer + Books
Looking to broaden your palate when it comes to beer? We have a piece of advice for you: Stop into Ponderosa Beer + Books and ask Owner Jessie Polin for a recommendation. Whether you’re a craft beer newcomer or connoisseur, you’re likely to learn a thing or two.
“If you’re already into beer, there’s gonna be some really interesting things [at Ponderosa],” Polin says. “But then I
also really want to be able to provide a positive environment for people who are interested in beer, but not really sure where to start.”
Polin has a longstanding interest in craft beer, and after gaining industry experience at a brewery in Seattle, she opened her own taproom in July 2022. Through Ponderosa, she does her best to encourage folks to branch out and try new things— even brews that are traditionally stigmatized or gendered. (After all, fruity beers are for everyone!)
Out of 16 rotating taps, only two or three are IPAs. Visitors can expect to find a wider variety of ciders, lagers, funkier brews, wines, and even unique non-alcoholic options. Above all, Polin looks for beers that are well-made and interesting, and she loves supporting companies with women owners and/or brewers. She also makes a conscious effort to carry both local and non-local options— because while we all know that Bellingham beer is delicious, it’s
also fun to sample something totally different.
But beyond the beer itself, Polin strives to make Ponderosa an inclusive community space by hosting pop-ups, maker’s markets, and even fundraising events. Want to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings? Follow Ponderosa on Instagram @ponderosabeerandbooks.
Current drink of choice: At the time of writing, Polin’s favorite brew on tap was the Television People, a Kolsch Weiss by Bizarre Brewing in Seattle. This lemon- and coriander-infused beer puts a light, fruity, and flavorful spin on a traditional favorite. Ponderosa also features a to-go fridge, and her current top picks include the Pollinia Pet-Nat by Art + Science, Tula Saison by Hildegard, 3 Fonteinen Armand & Gaston, and Stillwater American Wild Ale.
Sarah Palmer, Gold Fern Wine Bar & Bottle Shop
Fairhaven has a new hub for natural wine— and if the funky vibes and extensive bottle selection at Gold Fern seem familiar, there’s a good reason why. Gold Fern is brought to you by the same team that owns Black Fern Coffee in the Granary Building, and chief among that team is Co-Owner Sarah Palmer.
Palmer has a long history in the coffee industry, but she began her first foray into wine at Black Fern. Along with her business partner Carlos Bassetti, she even began making wine at Artivem Mead, which they also co-own.
Palmer’s specialty is in natural wine, a term that simply refers to wine made without additives. She underlines that natural wine’s reputation for being “funky” isn’t always accurate; while some natural wines might be reminiscent of kombucha, others taste just like classic French and Italian picks.
Gold Fern customers can find more than 400 bottles and even a full non-alcoholic shelf with zero-proof wines and spirits. If you don’t know how to choose between them (beyond picking the prettiest label), Palmer and her staff are eager to help you narrow down a wine that works for your palate. Her goal is for Gold Fern to be accessible, educational, and— above all— fun.
“We want it to be community driven,” Palmer says. “We want it to be a space for people to hang out, to be able to learn about wine if they want to, or just have a quick drink or grab a bottle for home if they don’t.”
Current drink of choice: Palmer gravitates towards what she calls “summer reds,” or drinkable, jammy wines that taste best when slightly chilled. Her current pick is Jazzy Juice, a fun, fruit-forward red that’s produced by Johan Vineyards in the Willamette Valley.
Emily Nichols and Cathi Aldrich, Pink Boots
You might already know Emily Nichols as the co-owner of Darach Brewing, or Cathi Aldrich from her work at Structures Brewing’s new Holly Street location. Both women have long histories within the fermented beverage
industry, and now they’re paying it forward by leading Bellingham’s chapter of the Pink Boots Society.
Pink Boots is a national organization dedicated to connecting, educating, and inspiring women and nonbinary folks
in the fermentable beverage industry. While it began with a focus on beer, it’s since grown to include any alcoholic
drink. Moreover, membership isn’t just open to brewers— anyone who works in the industry is welcome to join.
Unlike specialized associations and guilds, Pink Boots focuses on advancing the individual rather than the industry. According to Aldrich, the ultimate aim is to help women “understand how they can better themselves through education in this industry.” Pink Boots offers a variety of scholarships for female brewers, and all funds raised go directly towards educational opportunities.
Nichols herself was able to go to a Pink Boots conference on scholarship in 2022, and she describes meeting women
from all over “doing the same hustle that we’re doing.” She saw firsthand how many of these women faced similar frustrations within the industry, a realization that Nichols found “frustrating and refreshing”— because, even amid challenges, it underscored the fact no one is going through it alone.
“There’s still this misconception… that there aren’t women in this industry, or that we’re in the industry to simply serve beer with a pretty smile,” Aldrich says. “So breaking that is getting all walks of women— not just women brewers, but bartenders, salespeople— really bridging that gap and saying, ‘We’re here, we’re in all facets of it. We do the marketing, we do the delivery, we do it all.’”
Current drink of choice: If you want to support women in the fermented beverage industry, it’s as easy as buying
a beer. Darach Brewing’s Tempestas is a saison made with the Pink Boots dry hop blend, French saison yeast, and
malt donated by Skagit Valley Malting. Best of all, $1 from each beer sold goes back to the Pink Boots Society.