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The Unexpected $500 Dive Bar Tip and the Prosthetic Leg Ashtray

Tales from the women behind some of Charleston's favorite bars.

Clockwise, from left: Carroll, Mitchell, Collins
Clockwise, from left: Carroll, Mitchell, Collins
Photo of Carroll: Leslie McKellar

Female bartenders: they, too, have favorites, don't like bad tippers, and especially don't like being told to make a shot that's "fun." But they have the advantage of being women. A smile can erase an eye-roll, it's impressive to shoot whiskey, and a high-five can make that guy feel like he actually got a phone number.

In Charleston, there are some stand-outs. Lesley Carroll — you'll know her from behind the bar at favorite musical venue Tin Roof in West Ashley — is now co-owner and bartender at craft beer establishment Jack of Cups on Folly Beach. One of the best "tips" she's ever received as a bartender was from a man who'd also made his own way in the food and beverage industry. He told Carroll, "Encourage yourself to grow and to always evolve and make changes when you feel burnt out." Her most tense moment as a bartender included frat guys accidentally using another patron's prosthetic leg as an ashtray. She diffused the situation with shots and handshakes.

Her most tense moment as a bartender included frat guys accidentally using another patron's prosthetic leg as an ashtray.

Then there's Vicki Mitchell. She's tended bar in Charleston on and off for 15 years. Started at the now defunct Horse and Cart, moved with it to bive bar Upper Deck, served her short (and crazy) stint on Market Street, and can be found now at the year-old Local 616.

And Leah Collins at the rowdy King Street bar Silver Dollar cannot be forgotten. She should win real awards for serving $1 vodkas to the collegiate crowd.

They're well-versed in all things shaken, stirred, and of the pick-up variety.

Mitchell wasn't willing to share her go-to response to pick up lines, because then she could "never use it again."

But she did share the story of her biggest tip,  "I was at Upper Deck with Dwayne." [Mitchell's twin and owner of Local 616.] "And we worked a kind of slow Thursday night together. It was last call, and we were getting the few people that were there out, and this guy that had like four to five of his friends with him kept begging to stay and asked, 'What do I have to do to get another beer and shot for me and my friends?' So I told him straight up, that I needed $250 to make my rent for the month, and Dwayne looked at me with bugged out eyes. Then the guy was like, 'For real?!' I said, 'Yes, for real!' So they ordered all Guinness and Irish Car Bombs, and his tip was $500 to $600!"

Impressive, but they should be tipped this well every time.

Written and reported by Elizabeth Bowers.

Silver Dollar

478 King St, Charleston, SC (843) 722-7223

Jack Of Cups

34 Center Street, Folly Beach, SC 29439 (843) 633-0042

Local 616

616 Meeting Street, , SC 29403 (843) 414-7850