Restaurant News & Reviews

Indulge in grown-up bourbon milkshake at The Real McCoy in Bellingham

Bourbon milkshake at The Real McCoy in Bellingham
Bourbon milkshake at The Real McCoy in Bellingham

Name: The Real McCoy Bar & Kitchen

Location: 114 Prospect St. in Bellingham. 360-392-8051, on Facebook and at Open 4-11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Sip this ... and that: The Real McCoy is where milkshakes go when they grow up. That’s what I thought after taking my first sip of the screamingly good adults-only bourbon milkshake, which costs $11 and is listed under sweets on the menu.

It included creme de cacao, Borghetti coffee liqueur, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream infused with Branca Menta, an Italian liqueur that imparted a hint of mint – all in a glass tiki mug topped with chocolate shavings and speared with three straws for our table to share.

The taste was just the right amount of boozy flavor combined with creamy-chocolaty-coffee yumminess for a perfect liquid dessert.

This review starts with a drink because Brandon Wicklund, The Real McCoy’s owner and bartender, describes it as a place to come for the drinks and stay for the food. He’s right on both accounts.

The Real McCoy has the feel of the speak-easy bars of the Prohibition era. The name itself is a nod to William McCoy, a bootlegger and rum-runner who sold alcohol along the East Coast during Prohibition.

Three of us stopped in at the end of a wet, gray day for an after-work treat and caught part of happy hour.

I started the evening with an Old-Fashioned for $7 – a staple and a customer favorite when it comes to cocktails. It’s made in batches, put on tap and pushed with nitrogen. Served over a large ice cube, the drink was smooth, slightly sweet and just bracing enough to chase away the “blahs.”

Quick bite: At The Real McCoy, the servings of food are somewhere between an appetizer and an entree.

I was in the mood for something different, so I ordered the double-braised oxtail for $14 and the bourbon chicken liver pate for $8.

The oxtail was served in strips that were both savory and tender, while the crispy quinoa sprinkled on the meat gave an unexpected bit of pleasing texture. The side of red potatoes and firm green lentils were kept on this side of blandness, thanks to the acidity from pickled red onions on top.

The pate, which was earthy and silken, was served with slices of Breadfarm toast, bruleed figs and Moroccan spiced goat cheese. My companions said they could taste a slight smokiness from the figs. I can’t say I could tell there were spices in the goat cheese, but I will say it was light and fluffy, unlike the dense goat cheese I’m accustomed to eating.

My favorite way to eat the pate was to spread it liberally on a wedge of toast, top that with goat cheese and then a fig for a fatty and slightly sweet-sour symphony of flavors.

If more traditional comfort food is your thing, try The Real McCoy’s grilled cheese and tomato soup for $7 on the happy hour menu.

The soup was bright and spicy with a dollop of sour cream in it to help soften the burn. The grilled cheese – it’s a slice instead of the whole sandwich – had smashed avocado, blue cheese and sharp cheddar inside.

Go ahead, dunk your grilled cheese into the spicy soup. All that fat will help cool your mouth.

Got suggestions for tasty tidbits in Whatcom County or an eatery known for a particular dish? Send them to Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234,, @kierelyea