The Gin Joint hosted their soft opening last week on East Bay Street. Intimate and classy without feeling stuffy, the restaurant is a tribute to the roaring ’20s, serving up artfully made cocktails and comfort food with an up-market twist that’s sure to satisfy locals and tourists alike.
Housed in the former Robert’s location, The Gin Joint is the brainchild of Joe and MariElena Raya, graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, teachers at The Arts Institute of Charleston, and former Robert’s employees (MariElena is the restaurateur’s daughter). Joe Raya’s specialty is beverages and MariElena has been trained in classic French cuisine — the result is a restaurant that pays just as much attention to the crafting of their cocktails as they do to the food coming out of the kitchen. And it doesn’t hurt that the employees wear suspenders with bow-ties.
Joe and his bar staff pride themselves on their liquor knowledge, and for specialty gin drinks, there isn’t a better joint in town. They chip their ice off giant blocks in the kitchen, so there are no small cubes to water it down — it’s also exactly the way your cocktail would’ve been served pre-Prohibition. The Gin and Basil Smash is not to be missed. Plymouth gin, lemon, basil and gomme (Acacia tree sap boiled to make simple syrup) tastes like a summer garden.
The intimate atmosphere makes it the perfect place to bring a date or simply to tuck yourself away and unwind after a busy day at work — but you’d better get there early, because space is somewhat limited. With only four booths, a large butcher-block community table, three cozy round tables, and room for about six at the bar, you may be in for a wait on busy nights.