Don’t let Charleston’s palmetto trees fool you. It’s not always summer here.
Of course, for much of the year, Charleston is a place of Spanish moss dripping from the live oaks, wedding parties fanning themselves with programs while they wait in the afternoon heat, or long days on the beach followed by humid nights off of it where sometimes there isn’t a breeze to be caught, sea or no. But we also have white, overcast skies, winter raincoats, and the time-honored tradition of standing around a backyard shucking oysters freshly roasted and still smelling of the sea. It doesn’t have the bright leaf colors of a New England fall or the deep drifts of snow in a Midwest winter, but the seasons still shift -- they’re just more subtle.
And just as any culinary destination worth its salt has plenty of menus that shift as the seasons do, the same goes for Charleston. Peaches give way to pomegranates, cucumbers to collards, and light shrimp salads make way for succulent short ribs.
Cocktails, too, fluctuate seasonally with the use of special ingredients and a focus on warmer or cooler-day libations. To get an idea of how Charleston’s seasons are reflected in its drinks, we asked Ryan Casey of The Dewberry for a peek behind his process. Years spent working in restaurants helped guide Casey’s seasonal focus.
“From late summer to autumn and winter, I watched the chefs transition flavors from basil and mint to rosemary and pine, and I learned to follow suit,” Casey said.