Thirsty Post: Two Cocktail Bars in Charleston

In case you missed it, it’s summer in the Lowcountry. It’s July, after all. This is the time of year where even the cool parts of the day leave you drenched because the humidity is like a wet, stifling, warm blanket that smothers you from head to toe.

So, it’s lovely. (No, not really.)

That doesn’t stop a lot of people from trying to find new places to drink to keep cool (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, of course). Staying hydrated is key down here in the summer, after all.

I’ve been out with Mom and Dad over the last few weekends and we have hit up a couple of fun locations with fantastic drinks (and I mean a couple). I’m specifically tallying up cocktails, though we have had a couple of stops at wine bars this summer.

First up, The Rooftop at Vendue is what it sounds like: a rooftop bar. The Vendue is a hotel at the corner of King Street and Vendue. The best way to describe the location is that it’s at the entrance of Riley Waterfront Park where the famous Pineapple fountain is. This is also the French Quarter of downtown Charleston. We had actually been here before for my and Melissa’s birthday before we went to McCrady’s Tavern (great food, but pricey and they can apparently run out of burgers) back in February. That was at night and it was a bit chilly, so this was a completely different experience. It overlooks the harbor and the Ravenel Bridge and because it’s right off the water, there’s a breeze constantly blowing. Between that, sitting in the shade, and having some chilly drinks, the three of us were quite comfortable. I ordered a  Danville Train, which is made up of Virgil Kane Ginger Bourbon, Angostura Amaro, and Barritt’s Ginger Beer (taken straight from the menu). It was fully of ginger and delicious and refreshing to me, though maybe a smidge heavier than I would have wanted on the stomach. Mom got the Strawberry Basil Lemonade (sound familiar?) and that was the ticket for sure. It was light, refreshing, and full of flavor. Their version was made with Cathead Honeysuckle vodka and housemade basil strawberry lemonade, though. Dad ordered a Mai Tai because he’s been on that kick since they got back from Cabo. He said it was excellent. It just tasted like pineapple to me.

Second, we went to Tavern and Table at Shem Creek. This place is right beside of Red’s and is on the creek, too, so it offers prime dolphin- and people-watching (free of charge, dinner and a show, all that). Shem Creek is a really cool place to go when you can get there during the not-insanely-crowded times. It’s chill, laid back, and you’re almost always going to see dolphins in the creek. I ordered a Black and Blue Mule, made of Stolichnaya vodka, blueberry and blackberry compote, fresh lime, and ginger beer. It was super gingery, but had a lot of the blueberry and blackberry on the back end of it. It even came with a piece of candied ginger (yum!). Mom ordered the Salted Watermelon Rosé, which had Bacardi rum, fresh salted watermelon, English cucumber, and rosé. To be honest, I didn’t taste the rum, but the salted watermelon and the rosé were prevalent–all watermelon at first, then the salt, then the dry, slightly fruity rosé to finish. It was quite good, but I liked my Mule better. Dad tried the T&T Old Fashioned, made with Tin Cup whiskey, clementine, morello cherry, and Jerry Thomas bitters. The clementine was the strongest flavor and took out a lot of the bitter you typically get with Old Fashioned drinks (or at least the ones I’ve had). It was excellent, as well. I’d go back and try some of their other drinks.

Like I said, two places. There are several other places I have been to in my almost five years down here now, but it has been a while. I tend to get beer or bourbon when I go out since mixed drinks are full of sugar (and expensive), but it’s nice to indulge once in a while. I’ll report back with other places to investigate!

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