Cheers to Charleston: Exploring the Best Bars in the Holy City

Charleston, South Carolina, is known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and vibrant food scene. But what many people may not realize is that Charleston also has a thriving bar scene. From historic bars serving patrons for centuries to trendy craft cocktail bars and rooftop lounges with stunning views, Charleston has something for everyone. Whether you’re a local looking for a new spot to grab a drink or a visitor wanting to experience the city’s nightlife, Charleston is the perfect destination for bar-hopping.

13 Best Rooftop Bars in Charleston - Explore Charleston Blog

Key Takeaways

  • Charleston’s bar scene offers diverse options for locals and visitors alike.
  • Historic bars provide a glimpse into the city’s past and offer a unique atmosphere for enjoying a drink.
  • Craft cocktails are a must-try in Charleston, with talented mixologists creating unique and delicious drinks.
  • Rooftop bars offer stunning views of the city skyline and are perfect for a night out with friends.
  • Dive bars are a local favorite, offering a laid-back atmosphere and affordable drinks.


Historic Bars: A Journey Through Charleston’s Past

Charleston is a city steeped in history, and its bars are no exception. Some of the oldest bars in the town have been serving patrons for over a century, and stepping into these establishments feels like taking a step back in time. One such bar is The Griffon, located on East Bay Street. This dive bar has been around since 1766 and is known for its dark wood paneling, old photographs, and friendly atmosphere. Order a local beer and soak in the history of this iconic Charleston establishment.

Another historic bar worth visiting is The Blind Tiger Pub on Broad Street. This bar dates back to the 1800s and was once a speakeasy during Prohibition. Today, it retains its old-world charm with exposed brick walls, vintage decor, and a cozy courtyard. Try their signature cocktail, the Blind Tiger Punch, made with rum, fruit juices, and secret spices.

Craft Cocktails: The Best Mixology in the Holy City

If you’re a fan of craft cocktails, Charleston has plenty of options to satisfy your taste buds. The city is home to some of the best mixologists in the country who take pride in creating unique and innovative drinks using high-quality ingredients. One standout bar is The Gin Joint on East Bay Street. This speakeasy-style bar offers an extensive menu of handcrafted cocktails, each one more delicious than the last. Try their signature drink, the Bee’s Knees, made with gin, honey, and lemon.

Another must-visit spot for craft cocktails is The Cocktail Club on King Street. This rooftop bar offers stunning city views and a creative and expertly crafted drinks menu. Their mixologists are known for their attention to detail and use of fresh, local ingredients. Try their Charleston Mule with bourbon, ginger beer, and fresh lime juice.

Rooftop Bars: Enjoying the Charleston Skyline


Bar NameLocationHeight (ft)CapacityHours
The Rooftop Bar at Vendue19 Vendue Range50150Mon-Sun: 4 pm-11 pm
The Watch Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits75 Wentworth St8100Mon-Sun: 4 pm-11 pm
Pavilion Bar225 E Bay St55200Mon-Sun: 11 am-11 pm
The Cocktail Club479 King St375Mon-Sun: 4 pm-11 pm

There’s no better way to take in the beauty of Charleston than from a rooftop bar. Luckily, the city has several options that offer breathtaking views of the skyline and surrounding areas. One popular rooftop bar is The Watch on King Street. Located atop The Restoration Hotel, this bar provides panoramic city views and a menu of craft cocktails and small plates. Sip on a refreshing Paloma while enjoying the sunset over Charleston.

Another rooftop bar worth checking is The Rooftop at Vendue on East Bay Street. This bar offers stunning views of the Charleston Harbor and is known for its lively atmosphere and creative drink menu. Try their signature cocktail, the Vendue Mule, made with vodka, ginger beer, and fresh lime juice.

Dive Bars: Where the Locals Go

Charleston has plenty of dive bars for those looking for a more laid-back and unpretentious atmosphere. These no-frills establishments are where locals go to unwind after a long day or catch up with friends over a cold beer. One such dive bar is The Recovery Room Tavern on Upper King Street. This neighborhood favorite is known for its cheap drinks, friendly staff, and lively karaoke nights. Grab a PBR and join in on the fun.

Another dive bar worth visiting is Big Gun Burger Shop & Bar on Calhoun Street. This bar is known for its extensive beer selection, delicious burgers, and relaxed vibe. Order a local craft beer and challenge your friends to a game of pool or darts.

Wine Bars: Sipping and Swirling in Charleston

If you’re a wine lover, Charleston has several wine bars that offer an impressive selection of wines from around the world. One standout wine bar is Bin 152 on King Street. This cozy spot offers a curated list of wines by the glass or bottle and a menu of small plates to pair with your drink. Try their house red, a smooth and velvety Malbec from Argentina.

Another wine bar worth visiting is Graft Wine Shop & Bar on Meeting Street. This boutique wine shop offers a carefully curated selection of natural and organic wines and a cozy bar area where you can enjoy a glass. Their knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect wine to suit your taste.

Bourbon Bars: A Southern Tradition

Without trying some of the South’s finest bourbons, no visit to Charleston would be complete. Luckily, the city has several bars that specialize in this beloved spirit. One such bar is The Belmont on King Street. This upscale cocktail lounge offers extensive bourbons worldwide and expertly crafted cocktails. Try their Old Fashioned, made with bourbon, sugar, and bitters.

Another bourbon bar worth checking out is Proof on King Street. This cozy spot offers a wide range of bourbons and a knowledgeable staff who can guide you through their selection. Sip on a glass of Pappy Van Winkle and savor the flavors of this iconic bourbon.

Beach Bars: Sipping Cocktails with Sand Between Your Toes

Charleston is known for its beautiful beaches, and what better way to enjoy them than with a cocktail in hand? The city has several beach bars offering stunning ocean views and a relaxed atmosphere. One popular beach bar is The Windjammer on the Isle of Palms. This iconic spot has been serving locals and visitors since 1972 and is known for its live music, cold drinks, and beachfront location. Sip a frozen margarita and soak up the sun on their outdoor patio.

Another beach bar worth visiting is Coconut Joe’s on Folly Beach. This laid-back spot offers a menu of tropical cocktails and a full food menu featuring seafood and other beach favorites. Try their signature drink, the Painkiller, made with rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and coconut cream.

Brewery Scene: Tasting the Best Local Beers

Charleston has a thriving brewery scene, with several local breweries producing high-quality beers that locals and visitors love. One standout brewery is Holy City Brewing on Dorchester Road. This family-owned brewery offers various beers, from hoppy IPAs to rich stouts. Please tour their facility and sample some of their award-winning brews.

Another must-visit brewery is Revelry Brewing on Conroy Street. This popular spot offers a rotating selection of beers on tap and a spacious outdoor patio to enjoy your drink. Try their flagship beer, the Gullah Cream Ale, a light and refreshing beer with hints of corn and honey.

Speakeasies: Discovering Charleston’s Hidden Gems

For those looking for a unique and immersive bar experience, Charleston has several speakeasies that offer a glimpse into the city’s past. One such speakeasy is The Gin Joint on East Bay Street. This hidden gem is behind an unmarked door and offers an intimate and cozy atmosphere. Try their signature cocktail, the Bee’s Knees, made with gin, honey, and lemon.

Another speakeasy worth seeking out is The Commodore on Meeting Street. This underground bar is known for its craft cocktails and vintage decor. Step back as you sip on a classic cocktail like the Old Fashioned or the Sazerac.

Charleston’s bar scene is as diverse and vibrant as the city itself. Charleston has something to offer if you’re in the mood for a historic dive bar, a craft cocktail at a rooftop lounge, or a glass of wine at a cozy wine bar. From the city’s oldest bars serving patrons for centuries to trendy speakeasies and beach bars with stunning views, there’s no shortage of options for bar-hopping in Charleston. So grab a drink, soak in the history and charm of the city, and enjoy all that Charleston’s bar scene has to offer.

Samantha W. Hodgson

I love to travel, and I like sharing my knowledge of it. The travel world is vast, and there are so many places to visit and things to learn! My goal as a travel blogger is to take my readers on an exciting journey through beautiful, exotic, and historical destinations. I am always eager to discover new places to explore, so I am always looking for more tips and advice for other travelers. I can't wait to meet you!