by Susan Cohen
On the surface, it seems like Republic Reign still has a lot of construction to do. To put it more simply: Right now, the former Chai's space is mostly gutted. That may be a bit intimidating considering the new bar hopes to host a New Year's Eve party.
But, as General Manager (and former Fish mixologist) Evan Powell promised during a hardhat tour on Tuesday, “It’s an attainable goal, believe it or not." And with a construction crew working six days a week, we have faith in this team.
“We really wanted to improve the social nightlife experience that exists in Charleston,” Powell said. “We wanted to offer that, but in a more engaging, socially oriented atmosphere." Here, you can grab a casual happy hour drink after work, or you can come on the weekend, listen to some live music, and indulge in bottle service. Regardless, Powell promises that each guest will be treated like a VIP.
The space has been designed by Mister Important, a California-based firm that recently completed the W Hotel in San Diego, and there won't be any exposed brick or Edison lightbulbs. As Powell explained, Charleston already has enough of that. “Charleston is a very traditional city, which is why I think we’re trying to take a contemporary look to it and bring a bigger city feel to it,” Powell says.
“The idea is to build the excitement as you come in the door as a first-time guest,” Powell says, comparing the experience to a performance. There will even be a velvet curtain that people can peek through to the main room, where a plush banquette will wrap around a wall. The outside seating will be arranged on a raised deck that runs along the outer wall.
Powell says that integrating the inside and outside of the space was an important goal. Windows will separate the inside and outside bar, and they'll be opened up when the weather permits it.
They're calling the menu "contemporary bar fare," focused on small plates that will be easy to share. While an item may seem familiar, the ingredients may be a little bit more innovative. “What I tried to do was incorporate a tapas feel, small plates, but use classic vessels and do it with new, exciting ingredients,” Chef Benjamin Harris says. “How much do you love a potato skin? But instead of the bacon and the cheddar cheese, [you’ll have] duck confit and gruyere cheese.”
Other highlights include a pork belly corn dog, foie gras sliders, and milk and cookies for dessert. Most items hit the $10-$13 mark. Ingredients will be sourced locally whenever possible (right now they're working with GrowFood and various farms in the area), but don't expect a local-focused, seasonal menu.
Powell got a lot of attention for his cocktails at Fish, and Republic Reign's menu features some classically inspired yet modern drinks, ranging from $8-$13. You'll see a Sazerac and a Sidecar, and there's a section of "Republic Spritzes," bubbly cocktails meant to share. The lounge will also offer bottle service, a rarity in the Charleston scene. Under South Carolina law, guests aren’t able to pour from their own bottle, so instead you’re paying for the service, and a server who will be at your disposal.
The New Year's Eve party will be a ticketed event, but Republic Reign should be open to the public soon into the New Year. The lounge will also be available for special events, whether it's a bachelor party or a fundraiser.
Stay tuned to Republic Reign's website for more.