A curated wine bar, a laidback local haunt, and a bounty of rotating brews at The Whale
Stepping Out: Charleston’s newest generation of watering holes are outside downtown proper, inviting patrons to expand their horizons literally and figuratively with hard-to-find beers, curated wines-by-the-glass, and thoughtful cocktails.
The Beer Bar, Refined: The Whale
In beer parlance, a “whale” is a desirable, hard-to-find brew that inspires Ahab-like behavior in its acolytes. The Whale (Charleston’s outpost of the popular Asheville “craft beer collective” anchoring the ground floor of upper Meeting Street’s new Refinery complex) isn’t quite so tricky to track down, but with a garage-style bay door, second-story sun deck, and a lavish, electric aesthetic, it’s definitely desirable. And attitude-free: “We are stoked to turn people on to beers we love without any pretension,” says general manager Jesse Mellinger. Choose from 20 rotating taps for a draught experience, or kick it with the dozens of canned and bottled selections from craft brewers around the country and OG producers from the world over. 1640 Meeting Street; thewhalecollective.com
Cozy, Classy, Curated: The Tippling House
The dark-wood bar is snug, and the wine list is tight at Coming Street’s newest redoubt, opened last fall by Matthew Conway and his fiancée Carissa Hernandez. But claustrophobic or limiting, it isn’t. “Even though I don’t have a thousand selections, I can make anyone that walks in this door happy,” promises Conway, a certified sommelier who spent nearly two decades in New York City’s restaurant scene. Expect a small, approachable staff serving affordable wine by the glass, bottle, or even the half-bottle, all from a list that rotates by the day and aligns thoughtfully with small plates from chef Alex Yellan (formerly of Tu and Minero.) Wine expertise is emphatically optional at Tippling House, but customers seeking something extra special need only ask for a look at Conway’s “private stash.” 221 Coming Street; thetipplinghousechs.com
Laid-Back Libations: Last Saint
You’ll see the hot pink neon in the window long before you get close enough to read “Last Saint” etched on the door. But the sign—a “fingers crossed” display—is the only in-your-face element of this casual cocktail bar tucked away on a long block of Meeting Street. “It’s a very neighborhoody vibe without having to get into the fray” of King Street, explains bartender and co-owner Joey Goetz, an alum of the Belmont. Sink into a plush banquette with an Old Salt (think Paloma, but… well, saltier) in hand or keep things on the up-and-up with a briney Bathhouse Martini. The claw machine up front is open to all comers, as is the intimate back bar, where bartenders sling classic cocktails in the mode of Attaboy, Goetz’s partners’ award-winning Nashville/NYC mixology project. 472-B Meeting Street; lastsaintchs.com