Laurel Oldershaw’s longtime dream is to open up a women’s sports bar. “When I say women’s sports bar, think about: you walk in, there’s TVs everywhere and on game nights we pull out a projector and 95 percent of the time, it’s playing women’s sports,” says Oldershaw, who is both a bartender and an athlete (she played softball in college and now is an elite Ultimate Frisbee player and a coach for the George Washington Women’s Ultimate team).
Right before the pandemic unfolded in March, Oldershaw was working on a business plan for a brick and mortar women’s sports bar. Her pivot is Bay Leaf Bitters Co., a cocktail delivery service run out of D.C. incubator EatsPlace.
Oldershaw got her bartending start at Founding Farmers DC after moving here from San Francisco. At Bay Leaf Bitters Co., her craft cocktails and mocktails are made to order and packaged up in rustic mason jars that hold 2 to 3 drinks per serving.
Bay Leaf Bitters Co.’s menu spans classic cocktails like Sidecars and Manhattans, and includes a section of $25 cocktails that support Stacey Abram’s Fair Fight PAC (the namesake Stacey Abrams cocktail is mixed up with tequila, St. Germaine elderflower liquor, and “blue food coloring to turn that margarita blue.”)
More options include cocktail kits for date nights, house-made bitters, and cocktail subscriptions. Order by 5 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday evenings for same-day Bay Leaf Bitters Co. pickup and delivery within D.C. limits. All deliveries must be made with a food order, like mixed nuts or granola, and packages are available for socially distant parties or corporate events.
Oldershaw’s also focusing on holiday drinks this month, with spiked dairy-free eggnog and candy cane hot chocolate, as well as cocktails like “A Party in a Pear Tree,” featuring ingredients like pear juice, bourbon, Lillet, and cinnamon syrup.
For now, Oldershaw’s hosting virtual Bay Leaf Bitters Co. events around sports and culture, but her long-term plan is to open up a physical space for her woman-owned, queer-owned small business in the future where fans and sports teams can meet up in real life. “We initially wanted Ultimate players to be our primary market,” she says. “Can we be that ultimate Ultimate bar?”
Oldershaw wants to make sure the bar is inclusive to all identities. “What we wanted to accomplish as a women’s sports bar is a place for women’s teams particularly to gather, [and] a place for non-binary folks to feel safe,” she says.
The plan is to be a hangout before and after games, and beyond. “I always tell people the atmosphere we’re going for is a mix between the Gibson and Red Bear Brewing. Somewhere you can have a classy cocktail after work, you can have a work meeting there. You can have a really nice date night there,” she said. “If we want to be a sports bar, we also have to have some type of shitty beer on tap and some classic beer cups where we know people might break the glass ones. There’s a fun balance there and opportunity that I’m really excited about.”
- Bay Leaf Bitters Co. [Official Site]