“Let’s eat and drink our way around Charleston!”
In collaboration with 843 Magazine, Milk Punch hit the Charleston cocktail and restaurant scene to discover, taste and toast! Along the way, 843 publisher Didi Rainey introduced us to locally-distilled spirits and craft beers pouring from Lower to Upper King Street, while also taking a few detours off the beaten path to soak up the full CHS scene.
We literally nibbled and sipped our way around The Holy City, from brunch to sunset, to cull a hot list of highlights for how to do Charleston, Milk Punch style!
Coastal Cosmopolitan. Affinities for local seafood, rum drinks and its local history. Often compared to New Orleans but a modern Southern vibe all its own.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Bennett is a primo location on King Street and boasts multiple cocktail lounges and dining options. Peek inside the pink-hued Camellia’s, a swanky spot for a Champagne and caviar toast.
The Dewberry for ultra-luxe design eye candy.
Emeline for historic but hip courtyard cocktails and great location for walking.
The Vendue for art + cocktails and rooftop happy hours.
THE CHARLESTON COCKTAIL SCENE
A playful sipping ground for next-level c0cktails like Old Fashioneds with stamped ice and clarified milk punch to perfected G&Ts with Nippitaty, a local organic gin. Hitting a rooftop bar is essential for waterfront and views of historic steeples in The Holy City.
Citrus Club at The Dewberry is a chic cocktail must in Charleston or make reservations at Doar Brothers or Vintage Lounge.
Cocktail Queen Tip: Go have an espresso martini at Maison!
Dranks, beers and live music:
The Royal American was the lowbrow highlight! The Commodore with a vintage jazz club vibe is where bartenders go off duty and for daydrinking on King Street, Uptown Social is always ready to party!
Local craft beers:
Look for Trop Hop, a refreshing as hell tropical IPA by King’s Call Brewing founder Austen Kroll or Palmetto Brewing, which also has a Speakeasy Tap Room.
WHERE TO EAT
For lunch, think upscale oyster bars with elevated fish dip and glasses of wine or burgers and truffle fries. For dinner, do not wing it or you’ll wander in somewhere less crowded for mediocre tacos. Make reservations!
Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop
Have a hearty lunch at Leon’s for the fried chicken, chargrilled oysters and local vibe. It’s a bit of a hike down King Street so catch an Uber if it’s hot. Pair the experience with sparkling wine, a frozen G&T or craft cocktail made with local Jack Rudy syrup.
688 King Street
Plan ahead and make hitting 167 Raw a priority to get your hands around The Lobster Roll, the buzzed-about dish around Charleston! Lunch or dinner but go early to get your name on the list since they don’t take reservations. We tried and failed!
167 King Street
Two words: smoked oysters! If you love Pêche in New Orleans, head to The Ordinary for a seafood and cocktail experience. Think local oysters and barbecue shrimp toast on sourdough. For cocktails, rum, rum, rum—even the variation on a Bloody Mary is made with a coconut-washed rum (the Beau Thai)—and they make a spectacular clarified milk punch!
544 King Street
Félix Cocktail et Cuisine
A charming little French bistro with small plates and cocktails. We kicked off a boozy “business lunch” with the Halley’s Comet, a gin cocktail topped with sparkling wine, and Parmesan truffle fries. Lobster deviled eggs and the Raclette Burger are also musts. If it’s just two, sit and the bar where the bartenders elevated the experience.
550 King Street
S.N.O.B (Slightly North of Broad)
Like Husk or The Darling Oyster Bar, you or your friends have probably already been here. Make this dinner one night to get you ‘slightly off’ King Street also.
192 East Bay Street
BUT FIRST, SHOPPING!
Gwynn’s of Mount Pleasant
Take the short drive over the bridge to shop local-chic at Gwynn’s, a family-owned luxe department store since the 1960s. Like a Hollywood starlet, Gwynn’s has aged gracefully, hip to designer labels, contemporary lines and local designers, thanks to granddaughter Madison Simon and team. Think Chloe sunglasses, Jimmy Choos, party dresses and edgy jewelry to Fun Boy floats and a dreamy collection of Estelle glassware.
916 Houston Northcutt Boulevard
Know before you go: Charleston is hopping Wednesday through Sunday but many of the cocktail lounges and restaurants on our hot list were closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Pack tropical heat attire and shoes that can get below-sea-level wet.
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