The City Magazine Since 1975

Raising the Bar

Raising the Bar
This season’s cocktail hour offerings recall parlors of eras past in their refinement. Sophisticated detailing and elemental materials reign right now—barware and serving items are decked in gold, silver, brass, and horn for polished, elegant entertaining, notes designer Matthew McLaughlin. Here are some of his favorites from local shops

Pewter and crystal barware by Match are sure to help take the edge off. (Gwynn’s of Mt. Pleasant, call for pricing.)

Antiqued glass tea cart with brass finish ($1,180) Michael Mitchell Gallery



Cut glass tumbler with gold leaf detail ($15) Croghan’s Jewel Box

Decorative cotton coasters with gold foil designs ($28 for set of 8) C. Wonder



Horn bottle openers ($18) GDC Home







Travessa platter rimmed in 24K gold ($320) Michael Mitchell Gallery

Horn and stainless steel ice bucket by Bobo Intriguing Objects ($95) Gwynn’s of Mt. Pleasant

Matthew McLaughlin

Who he is: interior and set designer, named one of Charleston’s Most Stylish (Charleston magazine, March 2011)

Published in: Charleston Home and Charleston magazines

His bar at home: “I have a tray set up on a sideboard in my hall with the basics: vodka, bourbon, tequila, and gin, and a bottle of scotch stowed underneath just in case. In Charleston, nothing is better than turning a quick hello, for instance when someone pops by, into an occasion to sit down and have a bit of lively conversation over a drink. For larger parties, I like to set up a bar on my back porch to increase the circulation of guests and avoid bottlenecks. I can use the tray in the hall as a secondary bar for simple-pour beverages like champagne, wine, and nonalcoholic offerings.”

Find him at: or shop his booths at Antiques of South Windermere and 17 South

Quick Tips for holiday entertaining
Matthew McLaughlin’s advice for throwing smart soirées

❶ Build a collection of personal favorites. Include two or three offerings that really personalize your bar. “I like Sweatman’s ginger beer and tonics—these are great mixers that are made locally. My favorite beer at the moment is Blanche de Bruxelles. It’s light and has a kiss of spice and a smooth finish.“

>❷ Consider serving punch. Sure it’s old-school, but that’s half the fun. “It’s festive, serves a crowd, and cuts down on the expense of hosting. Plus, it streamlines the bar and makes it easy for guests to self-serve.“

❸ Use a tray. A serving tray or two is a must. “They’re a good-looking way to group items (glasses, snacks, lime wedges), serve drinks, and catch spills. Keep a couple of bar towels nearby.“

❹ Use what you have. The ideal home entertaining spaces blend seamlessly with the rest of the room. “Your best bet is often to find an existing surface—be it a sideboard, a secretary, or an accessible counter space—and outfit it for serving. My folks have a bar that remains stocked but is tucked discreetly in a mirror-lined armoire. They simply fling open the doors when guests arrive.“


C. Wonder
285 King St., Charleston
(843) 727-1249

Croghan’s Jewel Box
308 King St., Charleston
(843) 723-3594

GDC Home
695 Coleman Blvd., Mount Pleasant
(843) 849-0711

Gwynn’s of Mt. Pleasant
916 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Mount Pleasant
(843) 884-9518

Michael Mitchell Gallery
438 King St., Charleston
(843) 564-0034