Best of Charleston 2008 » Drinking

Reader's Picks: Drinking Out


Here's the funny thing about zombies: Up until that moment that a ghoul actually tries to take a bite out of your neck, well, you may have a right difficult time determining whether or not that body is undead or simply drunk. The moaning, the stumbling, the need to eat fatty foods. It's tough. Which is why it's probably a good idea not to get completely smashed and go wandering about town — you're bound to lose your head. Of course, we love a good drink as much as anybody — some of us more than others. And not surprisingly some of our favorite watering holes are yours too, according to the 2008 Best of Charleston Readers' Picks.

Best Beer Selection (Retail)
Total Wine & More
1820 Ashley River Road. West Ashley. (843) 763-7034

By far, one of the best-stocked and affordable warehouse shops in town, Total Wine handles everything from cheap lager and high-gravity ales to high-end wines, specialty liquors, and trophy scotches.

Best Bottle Beer Selection (Bar or Restaurant)
Gene's Haufbrau
817 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley.
(843) 225-4363

One of the coolest taverns in town, Gene's has a massive menu of microbrews, such as Abita Purple Haze (from New Orleans), Butte Creek Organic Porter (from California), and Shipyard IPA (from Maine), as well as imported fare, such as Hoegaarden White (from Belgium), Paulaner Hefeweizen (from Bavaria), Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout (from England), and a great variety of high-gravity ales and strange specialties.

Best Beer Selection on Tap
Charleston Beer Works
468 King St. Downtown. (843) 577-5885

A knowledgeable staff pulls pints all day and night from a selection of 33 lagers and ales — including specialty microbrews from around the U.S. and flavorful local ales from the kick-ass Coast Brewing Company.

Best Happy Hour
Vickery's Bar & Grill
15 Beaufain St. Downtown.
(843) 577-5300
1313 Shrimp Boat Lane. Mt. Pleasant.
(843) 884-4440

Longtime local favorites, both locations maintain lively, and sometimes rowdy, happy hour atmospheres — it's where many of Charleston's beautiful working people end up right after quittin' time.

Best New Bar
Moe's Downtown Tavern
5 Cumberland St. Downtown.
(843) 577-8500

Slingin' suds, cocktails, and crispy appetizers in the spot where Jimmy Dengate's previously stood, the friendly staff at this warm and welcoming new tavern (just off of East Bay Street) has won us over quick.

Best Neighborhood Bar
Moe's Crosstown Tavern
714 Rutledge Ave. Downtown.
(843) 722-3287

The gem of the historic Hampton Park neighborhood along Rutledge, Moe's Crosstown Tavern remains a reader favorite with its impressive menu of deliciously greasy bar food and quality beer (micros, imports, and domestics).

Best Upscale Bar
Pavilion Bar
225 East Bay St. Downtown.
(843) 723-0500

Located above Grill 225, the Pavilion Bar is very posh and features gorgeous views of downtown, a well-trained bar staff, a sophisticated martini menu, and VIP clientele.

Best Rooftop Bar
Rooftop Bar & Restaurant at Vendue
19 Vendue Range. Downtown.
(843) 577-7970

Things are casual and breezy at the popular Rooftop Bar, which boasts a memorable view of the French Quarter, Charleston Harbor, the Ravenel Bridge, and historic downtown. The Bloody Marys are spicy and the live acoustic music is groovy.

Best Bar Staff: Halligan's Restaurant & Bar - BEN WILLIAMS

Best Bar Staff
Halligan's Restaurant & Bar
3025 Ashley Town Center Dr. Suite 201. West Ashley. (843) 225-4347

This place is huge and the rowdy clientele is mighty thirsty, so we appreciate the staff's diligence and efforts to maintain order, civility, and drinkability.

Best Bouncers
Halligan's Restaurant & Bar
3025 Ashley Town Center Dr. Suite 201. West Ashley. (843) 225-4347

After the recent changing of the guard at the Music Farm, veteran club manager/bouncer Jimbo Webb exited his longtime post and relocated to firm ground across the Ashley River at the roomy Halligan's. Obviously, he and his award-winning crew have quite the following.

Best Downtown Bar
Raval Wine Bar
453 King St. Downtown. (843) 854-8466

This popular, Spanish-themed wine and tapas bar (named for a neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain) caught on big-time.

Best Smoking Bar
Club Habana
177 Meeting St. Downtown.
(843) 853-3720

One of the very few spots where lighting up is still allowed, Club Habana's patrons savor fine spirits, tobacco, and the sweet pungency of secondhand cigar smoke ... the "ultimate escape."

Best Mt. Pleasant Bar
Red's Ice House
98 Church St. Mt. Pleasant.
(843) 388-0003

Extremely popular year-round with locals, tourists, and fire marshals, Red's specializes in ice-cold beer, and fried seafood.

Best James Island Bar
The Pour House
1977 Maybank Hwy. James Island.
(843) 571-4343

Adjacent to the Cuban-themed El Bohio restaurant, the ultra-groovy bar and music hall maintains its reputation for a cool atmosphere, great beer and booze, and killer live music.

Best Folly Beach Bar
Taco Boy
13 Center St. Folly Beach. (843) 588-9761

Busy every season, the festive cantina with the wicker chandeliers elbows the Sand Dollar out of the top spot this year.

Best IOP Bar
The Windjammer
1008 Ocean Blvd. Isle of Palms.
(843) 886-8948

Things are still rockin' at the 'Jammer, where they serve ice cold beer, good bourbon drinks, and a great variety of live music.

Best Sullivan's Island Bar
Poe's Tavern
2210 Middle St. Sullivan's Island.
(843) 883-0083

Even the spooky spirit of Edgar Allan Poe (who found himself stationed at Fort Moultrie), can't keep locals from flocking to this favorite on Sullivan's Island.

Best West Ashley Bar: Gene's Haufbrau - BEN WILLIAMS

Best West Ashley Bar
Gene's Haufbrau
817 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley.
(843) 225-4363

One of the oldest and coolest taverns in town, Gene's first expanded their big beer selection in 2001 when the folks who own Vickery's stepped in; with the addition of several domestic and imported high-gravity selections, it's a massive menu these days.

Best North Charleston Bar
Madra Rua Irish Pub
1034 E. Montague Ave. North Charleston. (843) 554-2522

Edging the popular Wild Wing (on Rivers Avenue) out of the top slot, elegantly Irish-themed Madra Rua brings the plaque to Park Circle — and that's worth a well-poured pint of Guinness for sure.

Best Summerville Bar
The Ice House
104 E. Doty Ave. Summerville.
(843) 875-5500

The historic and raucous watering hole (a.k.a. "The Crystal Icehouse") sits above a busy Summerville restaurant — it's "the club that's a step above the rest."

Best Waterfront Bar
Red's Ice House
98 Church St. Mt. Pleasant.
(843) 388-0003

With several spacious waterfront decks, Red's Ice House boasts a terrific view of Shem Creek, the harbor, and beyond.

Best College Bar
Silver Dollar
478 King St. Downtown. (843) 722-7223

Not much action goes down at this roomy Upper King Street tavern (they have seven TVs and seven beers) until late in the evening ... then, watch out, dude!

Best Authentic Pub
Madra Rua Irish Pub
1034 E. Montague Ave. North Charleston. (843) 554-2522

Beating the Griffon (off of East Bay Street) this year, the charming and boisterous Madra Rua are tops in Park Circle.

Best No-Frills Watering Hole
Big John's Tavern
251 East Bay St. Downtown.
(843) 723-3483

The only frills in this crowded, popular watering hole are the bras stapled to the ceiling and the collection of vintage flags and yellowed bumper stickers along the walls.

Best Dance Club
Trio Club
139 Calhoun St. Downtown.
(843) 965-5333

The funky/sexy weekend dance scene at this Calhoun Street hotspot must have inspired the funky/sexy readers.

Best Pool Hall
Player's Place (West Wings)
1401 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. West Ashley. (843) 556-4991
627-C Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 881-4599
5105 Ashley Phosphate Road. North Charleston. (843) 552-7665

The three cavernous pool halls across town provide players with a great opportunity to shoot and compete on well-maintained tables of varying sizes (between seven, eight, and nine feet).

Best Pick-up Joint
Raval Wine Bar
453 King St. Downtown. (843) 853-8466

Some of Charleston's snappy elite — especially those looking for a high-end romp — dig the wine, cocktails, and lookers.

Best Late Night Bar: A.C.'s Bar & Grill - BEN WILLIAMS

Best Late Night Bar
A.C.'s Bar & Grill
467 King St. Downtown. (843) 577-6742

There's plenty of hustle-bustle at both the downtown and Mt. Pleasant A.C.'s — especially the burpy late-hour crowds on King Street. It' a wild scene past midnight.

Best Sports Bar
King Street Grille
304 King St. Downtown. (843) 723-5464

With more than two dozen TVs (giant flat, hanging, tucked away), good pub food, and aggressive drink specials, the spacious King Street Grille stays busy every week, no matter who's playing in the wide world of sports.

Best Gay/Lesbian Club
Club Pantheon
28 Ann St. Downtown. (843) 577-2582

Boys will be boys, girls will be girls ... and boys will be gurls at this festive dance club/gay bar. Their hot motto is "Come play with us."

Best Adult Establishment
Thee Southern Belle
2028 Pittsburgh Ave. North Charleston. (843) 722-6833

The only "totally nude" club in town (right on the border of downtown and the south end of North Charleston), the Belle provides BYOB fun by way of table dances, private dances, and private rooms.

Best Martini
Cypress: A Lowcountry Grille
167 East Bay St. Downtown. (843) 727-0111

In addition to their innovative dishes and two-story glass wine "cellar," the sharp bartenders stir and shake some mighty fine gin and vodka martinis (the Lavendar Martini, made with house-made lavendar simple syrup, is highly-recommended).

Best Margarita
La Hacienda Grill
8530 Dorchester Road. North Charleston. (843) 767-1097
5070 International Blvd. North Charleston. (843) 746-8699
6322 Rivers Ave. North Charleston.
(843) 569-6844
205 N. Goose Creek Blvd. Goose Creek. (843) 569-3834
1205 N. Main St. Summerville.
(843) 873-0747
808 Folly Road. James Island.
1035 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Mt. Pleasant. (843) 856-7223
354 King St. Downtown.
(843) 723-3333

The most popular Tex-Mex chain in town wins again for its gringo-friendly margaritas.

Best Cold Beer
Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ
1205 Ashley River Road. West Ashley. (843) 225-7427

Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ makes their barbecue hot and smoky ... and keeps their beer icy cold.

Best Cheap Beer Deal
A.C.'s Bar & Grill
467 King St. Downtown. (843) 577-6742

Both the downtown and Mt. Pleasant venues regularly feature their daily "Beer of the Month" specials and offer selected specialty lagers for $2 (bargain!).

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