Drink. Drank. Drunk. Doing nothing to dispel comments that our column is merely full of party people imbibing, we went in search of those who appreciated a pint or the occasional glass of art walk wine. We were out to prove that Charleston might just be a drinking town with a history problem.
Despite serious reservations, we went out last Monday night to witness Upper Deck Tavern’s Beer Olympics. UDT is the sort of dive bar that’s the last stop on a long night of bar hopping — it smells funny, it’s dirty, and the patrons routinely forget to wear deodorant. Not the kind of place where we typically kick off our week. Once up the stairs, we realized the games had already begun.
Mike Grabman was sporting a referee’s uniform and tooting a whistle to signal contestants to start chugging. The first round was a race to see who could shotgun a beer the fastest. Bartender for the Recovery Room, Mark Hutchinson, already had his shirt off and was dominating the competition with a 17-second finish for a can of PBR. The participants were in teams of four, and members could tag in and out of the various legs of the Olympics. In perhaps the only non-alcohol related event, hula-hooping was the next competition. After some failed attempts and plenty of hip thrusting, it was time for the triple jump. In UDT, this category involved chugging a beer, a glass of wine, and a shot of pineapple tequila.
After watching the repulsed faces of those drinking the cheap wines and saccharine shots, we realized it was only the third heat and we were falling asleep on our stool. After we’d slunk home, the Olympiads competed in a Crossfit Warm Up, Keg Race, Boot Chugging, Champagne Chugging, something called “Five Halves,” Leapfrog, and Flip Cup. Our friends texted us at 11:12 p.m., “First vomit.” We’re not sure who won, but if any of the contestants were able to keep all that liquor down, they deserved a gold medal.
Friday night was another imbibing marathon, but in a much classier form. The Palette and Palate Stroll hosted by the Charleston Fine Art Dealer Association pairs galleries with restaurants for a unique art walk — and of course there was wine offered. Everything is high-end when there’s a six-figure painting on the wall.
It’s almost impossible to make it to all nine galleries in the allotted two hours, but we tried. We started our evening at the Sylvan Gallery, where Halls Chophouse offered a chopped house salad with green peppercorn buttermilk dressing as well as a grilled salmon with a cucumber-yogurt sauce. Next on the list was the Corrigan Gallery. The chef from Barsa offered a grass-fed beef carne cruda with a local quail egg. At Horton Hayes Fine Art, the staff from Oak Steakhouse served a fava bean puree tart with truffled mushrooms, as well as a delectable beef spring roll. The crowds were spread out this year, so we never had to wait long for a nibble or a refill. The evening ended at the Robert Lange Gallery, where we found Craig Deihl from Cypress doling out smoked pork over cornbread squares with a pickled plum. Full of delightful bites, we called it an evening in preparation for the next day’s celebration.
On Saturday, Holy City Brewing hosted a party to celebrate their second anniversary. Fans of the Dorchester Road brewery showed up despite the rain to cheer their success. Everyone was huddled inside the warehouse or under the tents to watch the sky. We all knew it would soon clear up, and waiting with a pint of Pluff Mud Porter wasn’t a bad way to pass the time. Not only were there great beers, but a multitude of food trucks as well. Coastal Crust, Lechon, Jack’s Cosmic Dogs, AutoBahn, and Coffee & Kurtz parked in the yard, as well as a tent from HōM.
As the last drop of rain hit the ground, the Bluestone Ramblers took the stage, and everyone came out of hiding. It was like the scene in the Wizard of Oz, where Glinda tells everyone, “Come out, come out,” to celebrate. And celebrate we did. Pints were poured, jigs were danced, and a good time was had by all.