If you want to ring in some holiday cheer outside the house in Charleston, then you can always go to the ritzy hotel bars for a nice cocktail or a beer in (gasp!) a glass. But we know you like options, so when you just can’t take another “12 Days of Christmas” round robin at the piano, here’s a list of 10 good old-fashioned bars that don’t require you to know how many hens are a layin’.
Go old-school Charleston in the evening with a boozy Manhattan at this whiskey bar and listen to some soft jazz in the heart of the tourist district.
Upper King St
Nah, there’s never a reason to close AC’s (for deep cleaning or otherwise) so your favorite dive bar will welcome you with open arms starting at 4pm.
If you fear that the eggnog will dull your palate from tasting Centennial hops and the coffee finish of your favorite beer, then keep your taste buds sharp with the bevy of beers at Craftsmen, opening at 4pm.
West Ashley (Avondale)
You know what's a great way to enjoy family time? Random Trivial Pursuit questions you pull out of a pint glass, or another board game from the Gene’s arsenal. One of the best beer selections in Charleston helps too. Opens at 6:30.
You know the drill. If you’re in the ’hood and don’t want to drive far, Hunley’s has your barstool waiting. $2.50 well drinks will be your reward for bellying up at 5pm or anytime after.
Upper King St
A day without bottle service is no holiday. Thankfully you won’t have to know that feeling since Republic opens at 4pm.
Westside/Upper King St
No need to go without a PBR for one day. Wax up those ‘staches boys, and pull up those knee socks girls, and both of you hipsters make sure and wear some fingerless gloves -- it’s cold out there. Opens as usual at 4 pm.
It’s not a speakeasy but booze is a flowin’ and the times are good in Downtown Summerville. Spin the wheel for prizes (Thrillist does not promise prizes are in any way good, but hey, prizes!). The fun starts at noon.
All locations besides Kiawah
Ham leftovers? You don’t need no stinkin’ ham leftovers when there’s wings, beer, flat-screen TVs, and crispy French fries starting at 5 pm.
If watching all those parades while listening to the details of Uncle Gene’s gallbladder procedure has made you antsy, work off some steam with a game of ping-pong or pool with a pint at this neighborhood joint. This place is not sure exactly when in the afternoon it's opening, but it will be open, so call for specifics.
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Stephanie Burt is a contributor for Thrillist and food writer doesn’t let a holiday stop her from exploring Charleston. Find her and her opinions at @beehivesteph.
1. Henry's House54 N Market St, Charleston
2. AC's467 King St, Charleston
3. Craftsmen Kitchen & Tap House12 Cumberland St, Charleston
4. Gene's Haufbrau817 Savannah Hwy, Charleston
5. Hunley's1750 Savannah Hwy, Charleston
6. Republic Garden & Lounge462 King St, Charleston
7. Recovery Room685 King St, Charleston
8. Ice House104 E Doty Ave, Summerville
9. King Street Grille304 King St, Charleston
10. Max & Henry's1175 Folly Rd, Suite G,, Charleston
Around since the 1930s, this bar is loved by both tourists and locals alike. Rooftop access and reasonable prices surely contribute to its popularity, and the drinks are delicious.
AC's Bar and Grill on King St is rowdy college-kid dive by night, and a rowdy college-kid dive brunch spot by Sunday morning. After a night of pool, dancing on tables and beer-and-shot combinations, you can load up on a decadent menu of exaggerated American dishes served on plastic plates late-night, like loaded nachos and burgers topped with punishingly hot sauce. Come back in the morning for equally gut-busting hangover cures, because cheesy eggs and ham in a waffle sandwich fixes most ailments.
This brick lined eatery steps away from the historic Charleston City Market offers unique takes on classic pub grub-- their trademark squid fries, for example, are a delicious mash-up of land and sea via calamari and bacon, and their riff on the Croque Madame a.k.a The Crunchy Dame will please Francophiles and down home folks alike.
Established in 1952, this old school saloon in South Charleston specializes domestic and import beer on draught; check out their chalkboards regularly as the offerings change seasonally. Gene's also serves over 10 kinds of sandwiches, from mesquite BBQ chicken to the neighborhood namesake "Avondale" with Angus beef and fried green tomato.
Basketball and buffalo wings go together like beers and baseball, which is to say perfectly. Snack and sip on all of the above at this local tavern in West Ashley.
This versatile King Street hotspot is where it's at in the River City. By night, the posh space hosts bangin' parties nightly with locals and national DJs on deck; the menu comprises sashimi, nigiri, and bottle service. When daylight hits, enjoy patioside brunch. Very chic, n'est pas?
How does a Charleston dive sell more 12 oz cans of PBR than any other in the country? By selling them cheap and keeping them cold: it doesn't hurt that The Recovery Room's signature beer has quite the following. The twelve flavors of chicken wings and beloved tater tot nachos don't hurt, either. Foosball, pinball, darts, bocce, billiards and trivia nights hosted in the slightly grungy space give the PBR hounds something to do.
Icehouse is one of the oldest bars in Summerville, and is so named because long before refrigerators, railroad workers used to load huge blocks of ice onto railcars. Nowadays, those train tracks, while still functional, serve a slightly different purpose: if you hear a train coming and are the first person to yell “TRAIN!”, the bartender will pour you a free shot. Downstairs, it's a traditional seafood shack; upstairs, a lively cocktail spot—offering over 500 liquors and 100 beers—that’s popular among locals and visitors alike.
At this SC sports bar themed mini-chain, there are plenty of cold brews on tap, the burgers are tasty, and the game's on always on (multiple) TVs.