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Erin Perkins

29 Essential Charleston Bars

Drink it up

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Cane
| Erin Perkins

The subtropical climate in the Lowcountry makes cold drinks a necessity here, and while porches seem ideal for sipping, you really should get out every now and then. Whether you like craft beer, Bud Light, vintage wines, cheap hooch, or fancy cocktails, there's a bar in Charleston for you.

You may find a new favorite or an old standby on this list of top spots to visit in the Holy City for a libation (or three). Bookmark this page and try a new one every weekend.

This list goes through the standards for the scene. For the hot, new establishments check out the Cocktail Heatmap.

Note: Map points are listed in geographical order and are not ranked. Did we miss your favorite spot? Show it some love in the comments, send us an email, or start a forum thread in its honor.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Bar at Husk

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76 Queen St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 577-2500
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With one of the largest selections of bourbon on the peninsula and antebellum punch — the Husk bar is a must visit for anyone wanting a one of a kind Charleston experience. The little house next to the famed restaurant on Queen Street is home to some of the most thoughtful cocktails in the Lowcountry.

2. The Belmont

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511 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403
Owner Mickey Moran set up The Belmont in 2010 and has seen his stretch of King Street change dramatically. Since he opened, Moran's block has been joined by big culinary names and hotels, but that hasn't affected what happens under the petite cocktail bar's pounded tin ceiling. It's still the same tavern that only allows 40 patrons in at a time, plays black and white favorites like Casablanca on mute and stocks some of the finest bottles in Charleston. The bartenders could make you something different on every visit or remember which classics are your favorite.

3. The Cocktail Club

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479 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 724-9411
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Find the tucked-away Cocktail Club early in the evening if you like to contemplate your beverage while relaxing in a cozy, leather-clad nook. Stop by closer to midnight if jostling between high-heeled ladies sipping Manhattans excites you. This King Street bar can get a little rowdy, but they always keep the cocktails serious.

4. The Gin Joint

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182 E Bay St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 513-5264
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The Gin Joint opened as one of the first craft cocktail bars in Charleston, and they revamp their menu every season. This bar banned vodka upon opening in 2010, and if patrons aren't sure what they'd like to order, they can go with the "Bartender's Choice" and chose from a long list of adjectives, like "tart," "strong," and "fizzy," to describe the type of drink they'd like.

5. Proof Bar

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437 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
Candlelit cocktail bar Proof doubled their list of offerings this year to allow for some more creative libations. Now, guests have 32 liquor concoctions to choose from, including the Pink Rabbit (Ancho Reyes, Hendrick's gin, house-made strawberry "Quick," and mole biters) and the Knuckle Ball (Old Grand Dad, cola reduction, orange bitters, and pickled boiled peanuts). And if you don't see something you like, owner Craig Nelson and the other bartenders are always quick with a suggestion. Proof is a great spot to meet friends or sit in the window solo and watch the parade of late-night patrons on King Street.

6. Warehouse

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45 1/2 Spring Street
Charleston, SC
Co-owners of Warehouse, James Groetzinger and Joey Rinaldi, want their guests to have a good time, whether your idea of a fun evening is a rollicking DJ party or an easy-going dinner paired with thoughtful cocktails. Many menu libations utilize local spirits, like the Home Town Fizz, a combination of High Wire gin, Luxardo, blood orange, and a splash of Prosecco.

7. Bin 152

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152 King St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 577-7359
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Bin 152 is a wine lovers paradise. Filled with quaint antiques and interesting art, the space is comforting and inviting. The menu has a wide range of choices, from a glass of bubbly under $10, to bank-breaking bottles of rare vintages.

8. Closed For Business

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453 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 853-8466
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Closed for Business is constantly updating their expansive draft beer list and bringing in rare kegs. The bar can get a little crowded in the evenings, but they're open for lunch, so you can sample the latest cult IPA while the sun is still out.

9. Edmund's Oast

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1081 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 727-1145
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While Edmund's Oast is more of a restaurant than a bar, we had to put it on the list because their beer, cocktail, and wine selections outnumber most of the watering holes on this map. Their wall of drafts and extensive liquor selection puts them into a category all their own.

10. Faculty Lounge

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391 Huger Street
Charleston, SC 29403
One look at the Faculty Lounge's Instagram account and you can probably figure out that this spot is a hipster bar — but in a good way. Sure, they host Beyonce nights and rotate DJs, but they also experiment with mezcal and brandy cocktails, make a mean Corpse Reviver #2, and offer discounted top shelf liquors at happy hour. Don't be intimidated by this cool kid on the block.

11. House of Brews

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1537 Ben Sawyer Blvd, Ste C
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 416-8094
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Stop by House of Brew on the way to or Sullivan's Island. The beer shop/bar is located in what feels like someone's home — except the homeowners just happen to sell a lot of craft beer and let you drink in their backyard.

12. Local 616

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616 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 414-7850
Local 616 keeps the atmosphere casual, while also concentrating on specialty drinks and a menu of various mules (think Moscow Mule, but with different liquors). Owner Dwayne Mitchell created a bar where guests could catch a football game and have more selections than just draft beer. It's like visiting a friend's house, who happens to make delicious drinks.

13. Moe's Crosstown Tavern

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714 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 722-3287
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Moe's Crosstown Tavern is an institution in Charleston. Most of the staff have worked at the joint for almost if not over a decade and they always remember a friendly face. They've got a great selection of draft beers, amazing burgers, and a stick-to-your-ribs brunch.

14. Recovery Room

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685 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 727-0999
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Recovery Room (Rec Room) is the grown-up's dive bar, thanks to their location away from Upper King kiddies and owner Chris "Boston" DiMattia's no nonsense attitude. Rec Room is the largest seller of PBR cans in the country. Go for the cheap beer and stay for the tater tot nachos.

15. Salty Mike's

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17 Lockwood Drive
Charleston, SC 29401
Affordable beers and idyllic views of the water? It may not be the hippest bar around, but Salty Mike's has its charms. The watering hole is a place for boaters, tourists, and college kids to mingle.
Photo: Travel Blog

16. Seanachai

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3157 Maybank Highway
Johns Island, SC 29455
Johns Island bar Seanachai may look like a traditional Irish pub, but the cocktails go far beyond pours of whiskey and beer. Owner Gerry Keiran visits the Farmers' Market every weekend (when in season) to draw inspiration for his ever-changing "cocktail of the week." The menu also lists classics next to newer creations for the more adventurous palate.

17. The Royal American

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970 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 817-6925
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The Royal American could have easily opened as the Disney World of dive bars, as many were wary of their declarations of being a dive before day one, but they did a good job of making the place feel worn in and comfortable. The Royal American is now the place to go for giant cups of bourbon punch and exciting music acts.

18. Tin Roof

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1117 Magnolia Rd
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 571-0775
Tin Roof is a magical kingdom of hipsters, music geeks, and food and beverage aficionados. The bartenders can make you a classic cocktail, a frozen libation, or pop the top on a can of beer. Tin Roof brings in some of the best rock/rap/indie shows in the Lowcountry. They make a pretty mean hot dog as well.

19. Upper Deck Tavern

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353 King St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 958-0002
Upper Deck Tavern (UDT) is the type of place that's intimidating at first — there's no sign, you have to travel down a dark alley, and the stairwell to the bar can leave you second guessing your every step. It's a shot and beer bar with PBR in every variation. If you're looking for more entertainment than booze, UDT offers board games, bingo, and karaoke on Sunday nights.

20. Voodoo Tiki Bar & Lounge

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15 Magnolia Dr
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 769-0228
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If only flaming cocktails served in kitschy barware will do, then Voodoo Tiki Bar & Lounge is your spot. The velvet walls, deep booths, and red walls are the perfect throwback decor for the Polynesian-themed drink menu. It's always a party if there's a tiny umbrella in your drink.

21. The Griffon Pub

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18 Vendue Range
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-1700
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To say The Griffon is a tad grungy might be an understatement, but that doesn't mean the Lowcountry doesn't love it. The little dive bar near Waterfront Park started in 1996, which was also when the practice of stapling dollar bills to the wall began. It's said to be one of Sean Brock's favorite hangouts.

22. The Rarebit

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474 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 974-5483
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While the owners of The Rarebit conceived the space as a diner, the bar is just as popular as their chicken and waffles. Hit up this King Street spot for classic cocktails assembled with perfection.

23. Gene's Haufbrau

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817 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 225-4363
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The oldest bar on this list, Gene's has stood since 1952. A huge selection of beers, cheap chicken wings, and plenty of televisions make Gene's the go-to place for many in the Avondale neighborhood. It's relaxed and as easy-going as a place can be.

24. A C's Bar & Grill

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467 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 577-6742
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A.C.'s slogan is "up all night," and they mean it — well, up until the "man" tells them they have to close at 2 a.m., but they do have a kitchen that stays open long past others on King. The beer is cheap and the Champagne menu consists of Miller High Life. The staff might look surly, but they're actually a lovable bunch (unless you're acting like a jerk).

25. Bar Mash

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701 E Bay St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 793-2636
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Boozy Jell-O shots plus a bocce court? What's not to love about Bar Mash. Stop in for one of bar manager Teddy Nixon's creative cocktails and a few tunes on the jukebox.
Tour Charleston's First Food Hall Mercantile and Mash

26. Cane Rhum Bar

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251 E Bay St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 277-2764
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Cane Rhum Bar & Caribbean Kitchen wants guests to chill in an island atmosphere with a few rum drinks and chef Paul Yellin's island fare. Patrons can find boozy cocktails like the Instant Vacation and jumbo garlic prawns at the tropical restaurant.

27. The Living Room

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334 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29403
Stop by ultra chic hotel The Dewberry for a drink in The Living Room. One of the most stunning settings around, the space replaces the traditional lobby. Expert bar manager Ryan Casey offers classics and his takes on classics, like the Panic Button with bourbon, Campari, Averna, Cherry Herring, and lemon. The cocktails are as stunning as the room.
Henrietta's and The Living Room Robert Donovan

28. Prohibition

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547 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 793-2964
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Upper King's Prohibition offers a lively atmosphere to consume classic cocktails while contemplating the extensive menu from Greg Garrison. The Jazz-Age bar also hosts swing lessons on Sunday evenings.
Prohibition

29. The Best Friends Lounge

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115 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401
Located in The Mills House, The Best Friend Lounge serves cocktails inspired by classics, local beers, and fortified wines like sherry, port, vermouth, and madeira. Bartender Roger Gelis switches the menu up to reflect the seasons.

1. The Bar at Husk

76 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401
With one of the largest selections of bourbon on the peninsula and antebellum punch — the Husk bar is a must visit for anyone wanting a one of a kind Charleston experience. The little house next to the famed restaurant on Queen Street is home to some of the most thoughtful cocktails in the Lowcountry.
76 Queen St
Charleston, SC 29401

2. The Belmont

511 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
Owner Mickey Moran set up The Belmont in 2010 and has seen his stretch of King Street change dramatically. Since he opened, Moran's block has been joined by big culinary names and hotels, but that hasn't affected what happens under the petite cocktail bar's pounded tin ceiling. It's still the same tavern that only allows 40 patrons in at a time, plays black and white favorites like Casablanca on mute and stocks some of the finest bottles in Charleston. The bartenders could make you something different on every visit or remember which classics are your favorite.
511 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403

3. The Cocktail Club

479 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Find the tucked-away Cocktail Club early in the evening if you like to contemplate your beverage while relaxing in a cozy, leather-clad nook. Stop by closer to midnight if jostling between high-heeled ladies sipping Manhattans excites you. This King Street bar can get a little rowdy, but they always keep the cocktails serious.
479 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

4. The Gin Joint

182 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401
The Gin Joint opened as one of the first craft cocktail bars in Charleston, and they revamp their menu every season. This bar banned vodka upon opening in 2010, and if patrons aren't sure what they'd like to order, they can go with the "Bartender's Choice" and chose from a long list of adjectives, like "tart," "strong," and "fizzy," to describe the type of drink they'd like.
182 E Bay St
Charleston, SC 29401

5. Proof Bar

437 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Candlelit cocktail bar Proof doubled their list of offerings this year to allow for some more creative libations. Now, guests have 32 liquor concoctions to choose from, including the Pink Rabbit (Ancho Reyes, Hendrick's gin, house-made strawberry "Quick," and mole biters) and the Knuckle Ball (Old Grand Dad, cola reduction, orange bitters, and pickled boiled peanuts). And if you don't see something you like, owner Craig Nelson and the other bartenders are always quick with a suggestion. Proof is a great spot to meet friends or sit in the window solo and watch the parade of late-night patrons on King Street.
437 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

6. Warehouse

45 1/2 Spring Street, Charleston, SC
Co-owners of Warehouse, James Groetzinger and Joey Rinaldi, want their guests to have a good time, whether your idea of a fun evening is a rollicking DJ party or an easy-going dinner paired with thoughtful cocktails. Many menu libations utilize local spirits, like the Home Town Fizz, a combination of High Wire gin, Luxardo, blood orange, and a splash of Prosecco.
45 1/2 Spring Street
Charleston, SC

7. Bin 152

152 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
Bin 152 is a wine lovers paradise. Filled with quaint antiques and interesting art, the space is comforting and inviting. The menu has a wide range of choices, from a glass of bubbly under $10, to bank-breaking bottles of rare vintages.
152 King St
Charleston, SC 29401

8. Closed For Business

453 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Closed for Business is constantly updating their expansive draft beer list and bringing in rare kegs. The bar can get a little crowded in the evenings, but they're open for lunch, so you can sample the latest cult IPA while the sun is still out.
453 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

9. Edmund's Oast

1081 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
While Edmund's Oast is more of a restaurant than a bar, we had to put it on the list because their beer, cocktail, and wine selections outnumber most of the watering holes on this map. Their wall of drafts and extensive liquor selection puts them into a category all their own.
1081 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403

10. Faculty Lounge

391 Huger Street, Charleston, SC 29403
One look at the Faculty Lounge's Instagram account and you can probably figure out that this spot is a hipster bar — but in a good way. Sure, they host Beyonce nights and rotate DJs, but they also experiment with mezcal and brandy cocktails, make a mean Corpse Reviver #2, and offer discounted top shelf liquors at happy hour. Don't be intimidated by this cool kid on the block.
391 Huger Street
Charleston, SC 29403

11. House of Brews

1537 Ben Sawyer Blvd, Ste C, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
Stop by House of Brew on the way to or Sullivan's Island. The beer shop/bar is located in what feels like someone's home — except the homeowners just happen to sell a lot of craft beer and let you drink in their backyard.
1537 Ben Sawyer Blvd, Ste C
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

12. Local 616

616 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403
Local 616 keeps the atmosphere casual, while also concentrating on specialty drinks and a menu of various mules (think Moscow Mule, but with different liquors). Owner Dwayne Mitchell created a bar where guests could catch a football game and have more selections than just draft beer. It's like visiting a friend's house, who happens to make delicious drinks.
616 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29403

13. Moe's Crosstown Tavern

714 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403
Moe's Crosstown Tavern is an institution in Charleston. Most of the staff have worked at the joint for almost if not over a decade and they always remember a friendly face. They've got a great selection of draft beers, amazing burgers, and a stick-to-your-ribs brunch.
714 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403

14. Recovery Room

685 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
Recovery Room (Rec Room) is the grown-up's dive bar, thanks to their location away from Upper King kiddies and owner Chris "Boston" DiMattia's no nonsense attitude. Rec Room is the largest seller of PBR cans in the country. Go for the cheap beer and stay for the tater tot nachos.
685 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403

15. Salty Mike's

17 Lockwood Drive, Charleston, SC 29401
Photo: Travel Blog
Affordable beers and idyllic views of the water? It may not be the hippest bar around, but Salty Mike's has its charms. The watering hole is a place for boaters, tourists, and college kids to mingle.
17 Lockwood Drive
Charleston, SC 29401

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16. Seanachai

3157 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC 29455
Johns Island bar Seanachai may look like a traditional Irish pub, but the cocktails go far beyond pours of whiskey and beer. Owner Gerry Keiran visits the Farmers' Market every weekend (when in season) to draw inspiration for his ever-changing "cocktail of the week." The menu also lists classics next to newer creations for the more adventurous palate.
3157 Maybank Highway
Johns Island, SC 29455

17. The Royal American

970 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403