The Cocktail Club Charleston


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The Cocktail Club is a combination of craft cocktail bars and clubs. It is located above The Macintosh, but with its entrance on King Street, the steps leading to the second story create a sense of anticipation that pays off when you reach the top. With ancient room walls surrounding various spaces, crumbling brick fireplaces anchoring those rooms, broad leather seats, and a dim-lit bar so tall that bartenders must use ladders, its Charleston architecture is reduced to its bare bones. Servers in tiny black gowns weave their way through the crowd, and you haven’t yet arrived at the rooftop bar. This is the see-and-be-seen crowd, with ties and heels as the norm, followed by the college-aged well-dressed cocktail group later in the evening. 

They are interested in what they are drinking, but who they are drinking it with is more important. The list at one of Charleston’s first solid craft cocktail places is still fantastic, with their house favorite, a Double Standard, made with house-infused serrano gin, cilantro, and lime juice, remaining on the menu. Their Punch bowls and a well-crafted Pimm’s Cup are other standouts on a seasonal, rotating menu. Of course, beer and wine are offered, but the tavern’s name says it all. The meal consists of a five-ounce burger and a brie-grilled cheese, but for a $3 snack, go no farther than the bacon-spiced popcorn. 

Meats and cheeses are also available for people who want to snack while drinking their punch (bowls, that is). Because the bartenders may become overworked, especially on weekends, try ordering from a punch bowl. Do this if you have a group that can agree and a table to sit at. The expertise level of individuals working the floor varies widely. Still, it’s challenging to wear a cocktail dress and carry a tray among a crowd that is typically dried after standing in a queue on a Saturday night. The Double Standard drink is a citywide staple, so order that, but on weekends, the Cocktail Club blurs the boundary between craft bar and club, so plan accordingly. A velvet rope and a large crowd are waiting to interact.

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