One for the Road: Charleston, South Carolina

The best bars to hit in Charleston for one night

I was recently on a road trip and made a pit stop in Charleston, S.C. I was on vacation and had no intention of tasting cocktails (that’s what I do for my day job), but the restaurant I chose for dinner, FIG, has incredible drinks. And I recognized the bar manager, Brooks Reitz, who I’d met a couple times before at events like Tales of the Cocktail. After a fantastic meal and a few tipples, he sent me off with the names of establishments I needed to check out in town. Here are some of the places I visited that night.

The Cocktail Club, 479 King Street:
While the drinks are serious, the mood at this stylish watering hole is fun and approachable. Jasmine Beck and her team make all the classics, but I suggest you order something that incorporates a house-made infusion or complex syrup instead.
What to Drink: Married to a Mixologist (Poema Cava, spiced beet maple syrup, Cointreau, lemon juice)

FIG, 232 Meeting Street, 843-805-5900:
The James Beard Award-winning FIG (pictured above) was the perfect start to my evening. Its mixologist, Brooks Reitz, is quite talented and has put together an impressive cocktail list, including nine twists on the Negroni, a build-your-own Manhattan section, and original concoctions.
What to Drink: Hummingbird (Beefeater Gin, Campari, St-Germain, Noilly Prat Sweet Vermouth)

The Gin Joint, 182 East Bay Street, 843-577-6111:
At The Gin Joint, I learned that Jerry Thomas, our bartending forefather, had roots in Charleston. The establishment has taken this to heart and has done a great job of capturing the essence of cocktail culture throughout the ages. The thorough menu features standards such as fizzes, swizzles, daisies, sours, slings, smashes, coolers, and "fancy cocktails," and there’s always a punch of the week. If you only have time for a single stop, this should be it.
What to Drink: The Original New Orleans Fizz (Plymouth Gin, lemon, lime, orange flower water, egg white, cream)

Check out Simon Ford’s complete guide for more great Charleston establishments.

Simon Ford is an award-winning bartender and director of trade outreach and brand education for Pernod Ricard USA. He is also a advisor.

This article was originally published at One for the Road: Charleston, S.C. For more stories like this, subscribe to for the best of all things cocktails and spirits.