Charlestonians of a certain age may remember partying at The Best Friend Lounge back in the day. From what others have told us, the bar tucked away in The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel, was, in the past, one of the most happening spots in town. No one can confirm when The Best Friend Lounge closed, but the best estimates from employees at the hotel put it at 7-10 years ago. Now the bar will make a comeback with veteran bartender Roger Gelis at the helm.
Gelis was previously a staple at cocktail bar Proof and says he will still make appearances there on Sunday nights, as The Best Friend Lounge will only be open Thursdays through Saturdays.
Andy Champion, Director of Food and Beverage at Mills House, previously worked with Gelis at Charleston Grill. Champion asked Gelis to stop by the Mills House, and that's when he showed him the somewhat-hidden bar off to the right of the lobby. Gelis says it's like walking back in time — it's dark-wood and granite throwback.
He researched the space and when he discovered "Father of Cocktail" Jerry Thomas once tended bar at the hotel, he was in. Gelis says he will focus on the classics, vermouths, brandy, cognacs, Madeira, sherry, and bourbon, though he says he's not trying to be a bourbon bar, since he is across the street from Husk.
Gelis hopes to have The Best Friend Lounge open before the end of the month.