The 40 Best Bars In Charleston SC | Rhyme & Reason
The 40 Best Bars In Charleston SC | Rhyme & Reason

40 Best Bars in Charleston SC

Charleston, South Carolina
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There is no denying that Charleston is an incredibly foodie city! In fact, people travel from all over the world to experience the cuisine of Charleston. From our Lowcountry cooking to our local seafood, Charleston reigns as a foodie giant in the Southeast and in the country as a whole. But, did you know that Charleston is often jokingly referred to as “a drinking town with a history problem”? Charleston has a rich history that does, in fact, include many drinking tales.

Now, the city is the home to some incredible watering holes known for everything from their delicious craft cocktails to the historic buildings that house the bars. I’ve written a breakdown on the best wine bars in Charleston (which I recap below!) but I wanted to share a post with y’all on the wider bar scene of the Holy City. So, I created this breakdown of the 40 best bars in Charleston, SC!

I hope this post helps you decide where to indulge in some merriment when visiting Charleston! Save this post if you’re planning a bachelorette, girls trip, or couples trip to Charleston. I also include a section on the best craft beer bars and the best dive bars in Charleston – these are perfect to pass along to your male friends visiting Charleston or to visit with your favorite guy (I consulted Edwin and my brother on these!). Note that a few bars pop up below in multiple categories.

P.S. For more on Charleston, visit my official Charleston Travel Guide, my guide to the best new spots in Charleston from last year (2019), and my tips for things to know before moving to Charleston!

The 40 Best Bars In Charleston SC | Rhyme & Reason
The 40 Best Bars In Charleston SC | Rhyme & Reason

40 Best Bars in Charleston, SC

Best Bars In Downtown Charleston, SC

Vintage Lounge:

If you’re looking for a lively spot out for date night or a girl’s night, then look no further than Vintage Lounge. The wine bar offers the finest selection of wines, champagnes, and craft cocktails as well as a menu of meats, cheeses, and small plates. The space is large but still has an intimate feel with plush booths and twinkling candlelit tables. Vintage Lounge also has an item on the menu titled “The Blind” for their daring customers. If you guess the glass of wine correctly, then it’s on the house.

My girlfriends and I like to go at night too for a bit of dancing to the live music (it turns into more of a full on bar later at night)! P.S. don’t miss their back patio on a beautiful evening! I’ve included Vintage Lounge under “best bars with live music” and “best wine bars” too. Located on King Street.

The Cocktail Club:

The Cocktail Club is a wonderful little cocktail bar that is half indoors and half outdoors (it’s a roof!). Go on Sunday nights for half priced bottles of wine and live music. This is one of our most frequented spots for cocktails or wine as it’s great before dinner and then really fun later at night during the after dinner hours. Depending on the live music, the atmosphere can get really lively! I’ve included The Cocktail Club under “best rooftop bars” and “best bars with live music” too. Located on King Street.

The Gin Joint:

The Gin Joint is a cozy, intimate place to grab a drink. Their cocktails are always changing & ever interesting! You can also create your own cocktail based on your favorite flavors. We love popping in here for creative cocktails and small bites with friends! Located on E. Bay Street.

The Bar at Husk:

Located in the small building next to its big sister Restaurant Husk, the Bar at Husk is a must-stop place to drink in Charleston. The cocktail menu is full of interesting & lovely libations. We really love the cozy atmosphere here and love the small food menu as well (the fried chicken is delicious)! It’s a great spot for a drink before or after dinner and one of our go-to’s. Located on Queen Street.

The Commodore:

There is nothing I love more than a fun night out in Charleston that ends at The Commodore. The Commodore is a funky live music bar full of personality! On any given night, you can take in vintage jazz & funk sets, along with a dance floor & DJ sessions. If the music is right, the dance floor can be so much fun! I’ve included The Commodore under “best bars with live music” too. Located on Meeting Street.

Babas on Cannon:

This new “old world café” opened in Charleston in fall 2018 and quickly became the best places to sip coffee in the morning, nibble breakfast and lunch during the day, and enjoy wine in the evening. We most frequent Babas during the drinking hours and love to go before dinner for drinks or after dinner to round out the night! I love Babas just as much when it is quiet and intimate as it is when it is buzzing with people. I adore their wine selection and their Spritz No. 2 beverage. I’ve included Babas under “best wine bars” too. Located on Cannon Street.

The Bar at Zero George:

The Bar at Zero George is one of my absolute favorite tucked away gems in Charleston. I think a lot of people don’t realize that you don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy the bar here! It’s open 7 nights a week with nightly happy hour. The cocktails are unique and mixed to perfection but nothing beats the setting! Enjoy your libations in the tiny bar or take them upstairs into one of the sitting rooms or out on the side porch. It’s Southern charm at its best. Located on George Street.

The Belmont:

The Belmont is one of my favorite bars to go to for a relaxed (yet delicious) cocktail with friends. You won’t find a pretentious vibe here and you’ll actually be able to hear the friends you are chatting with (unlike many bars). However, it does get going later into the night! Located on King Street.

Best Rooftop Bars In Charleston, SC

Citrus Club:

Obsessed would be an understatement! This rooftop bar at The Dewberry Hotel is so well done with minimal but super chic kind of retro vibes and amazing cocktails. The waiters all wear adorable uniforms, which is a little special touch I love. The views from the outdoor seating area are some of the absolute best in town (you won’t believe how close you are to one of Charleston’s beautiful church steeples)! This is my favorite Charleston rooftop bar! Located on Meeting Street.

The Rooftop Bar at The Vendue:

The Rooftop Bar at The Vendue was actually the first rooftop bar I ever went to in Charleston. In my opinion, it is one of the best rooftop bars in the Holy City! Enjoy lunch, dinner, and drinks on the roof every day of the week as well as sweeping views of the Charleston Harbor, Waterfront Park, The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, and the Charleston skyline. Located on Vendue Range.

The Watch Rooftop:

The Watch Rooftop is the rooftop bar and restaurant at The Restoration Hotel. I love it because it has indoor and outdoor dining options, offers views of multiple different parts of downtown Charleston, and hosts fun events like outdoor movie nights. The food is farm to table and the cocktails are all bespoke. It’s a great stop in Charleston for hotel guests and non-hotel guests alike. Located on Wentworth Street.

Pavilion Bar:

The Pavilion Bar is the rooftop bar of the Market Pavilion Hotel. It is widely considered one of the best rooftop bars in Charleston! Pavilion Bar boasts beautiful views of Charleston, a lively bar scene, and a yummy menu that is open to hotel guests and non-hotel guests. Located on E. Bay Street.

The Cocktail Club:

The Cocktail Club is a wonderful little bar that is half indoors and half outdoors. Go on Sunday nights for half priced bottles of wine and live music. This is one of our most frequented spots for cocktails or wine as it’s great before dinner and then really fun later at night during the after dinner hours. Depending on the live music, the atmosphere can get really lively! I’ve included The Cocktail Club under “best downtown bars” and “best bars with live music” too. Located on King Street.

Stars Rooftop:

A rooftop bar with fun specialty cocktails and a lively atmosphere. Stars can attract a college crowd but it’s never not nice to be on a rooftop! Located on King Street.

Revelry Brewing:

I’m not a huge brewery person but if I find myself at one in Charleston, it’s often Revelry Brewing. Like many breweries, it is pretty industrial but I like it because it’s a rooftop, which makes it feel less industrial to me. I also like spending an afternoon at Revelry because of the food trucks! There is always good food. Located on Conroy Street.

Red’s Ice House:

I honestly don’t really head to Red’s Ice House but it is a pretty popular spot so I’m including it on this list. It can best be described as a busy, no-frills joint that overlooks the water on Shem Creek and serves up seafood & pub grub. On the weekends there is live music at night and it can get pretty rowdy (and kind of trashy) but that is part of the appeal. It’s not a top shelf type of establishment, ha! Located on Church Street in Mt. Pleasant.

Best Sports Bars In Charleston, SC

Home Team BBQ:

Home Team is my favorite place in Charleston to watch football! They have tons of TVs and label each specific TV with what games it will be playing at what times throughout the day. So, you can try to grab a table by the TV playing your preferred game. The BBQ food at home team is delicious (perfect for game day!) but a visit to Home Team to watch sports isn’t complete without drinking one of their infamous frozen ‘Game Changers’. They also have a fun take on Moscow Mules that I love. There are three locations in Charleston but we usually go to the downtown location located on Williman Street.

Beer Works:

Located on Upper King Street, Beer Works is a go to spot for catching a game. Their selection of local beer is extensive and their classic sports bar food menu (think: wings, burgers, and tacos) is just what the doctor ordered on game day. To give you the whole picture, Beer Works says, “We created Charleston Beer Works with these things in mind… friends, cold beer, best friends, fresh food, more friends and an extra helping of sport.” Located on King Street.

Uptown Social:

If you’re looking for a sports bar that serves pizza, then Uptown Social is the spot for you. The bar is huge with multiple floors, including a rooftop level, so there is a TV for every game. The space has brick walls, large booths, deep bars, and tons of standing room. Located on King Street.

Best Bars in Charleston, SC with Live Music

Living Room:

The Living Room is the lobby bar at The Dewberry Hotel. It is called the Living Room because it is intended to feel like a true Charleston living room. The bar is outfitted with mid-century furnishings and a show-stopping brass bar (as seen in the photos in this post). The bar has a warm and welcoming feel, especially when the live music is flowing on the weekends. Expect lots of jazz musical influences! You’ll find morning coffee, afternoon cocktails, and evening aperitif (p.s order the pretzel – it’s amazing). Located on Meeting Street.

The Commodore:

There is nothing I love more than a fun night out in Charleston that ends at The Commodore. The Commodore is a funky live music bar full of personality! On any given night, you can take in vintage jazz & funk sets, along with a dance floor & DJ sessions. If the music is right, the dance floor can be so much fun! I’ve included The Commodore under “best bars in Downtown Charleston” too. Located on Meeting Street.

Vintage Lounge:

If you’re looking for a lively spot out for date night or a girl’s night that has live music, then look no further than Vintage Lounge. The wine bar offers the finest selection of wines, champagnes, and craft cocktails as well as a menu of meats, cheeses, and small plates. The space is large but still has an intimate feel with plush booths and twinkling candlelit tables.

Vintage Lounge also has an item on the menu titled “The Blind” for their daring customers. If you guess the glass of wine correctly, then it’s on the house. My girlfriends and I like to go at night too for a bit of dancing to the live music (it turns into more of a full on bar later at night)! P.S. don’t miss their back patio on a beautiful evening! I’ve included Vintage Lounge under “best downtown bars” and “best wine bars” too. Located on King Street.

The Cocktail Club:

The Cocktail Club is a wonderful little bar that is half indoors and half outdoors (it’s a roof!). Go on Sunday nights for half priced bottles of wine and live music. This is one of our most frequented spots for cocktails or wine as it’s great before dinner and then really fun later at night during the after dinner hours. Depending on the live music, the atmosphere can get really lively! I’ve included The Cocktail Club under “best rooftop bars” and “best downtown bars” too. Located on King Street.

Bangkok Lounge:

There is nothing chic about Bangkok Lounge but it is a whole ton of fun! Bangkok Lounge is a dive-y karaoke bar on King Street that is a really fun spot to go when you are in a party mood. On the weekends, there can be quite a line so be prepared to get there early if you want to get in and sing. It’s important to note though that you can sing karaoke at Bangkok Lounge 7 nights a week! I’ve included Bangkok Lounge under “best dive bars” too. Located on King Street.

Royal American:

Royal American is a super low-key bar and concert venue featuring local and regional musicians, plus hearty pub grub. It is pretty dive-y but can be a rowdy good time if the music floats your boat. Located on Morrison Drive.

Best Wine Bars in Charleston, SC

Bin 152:

Bin 152 is an absolute favorite among locals but is equally as welcoming to those visiting the Holy City. The place offers 40 different wines by the glass and 40 different cheeses (their cheese are to die for!) and charcuterie with their freshly baked bread. Plus, they have over 200 wines by the bottle. I love chatting with everyone who works at Bin 152! They are so knowledgeable about wine and what to pair wine with in terms of cheeses and meats. Perhaps the best part about Bin 152 is that the French Quarter neighborhood spot is open until 2am! We’re just as likely to be here at 5pm as we are at 1am. Located on King Street.

Goat Sheep Cow North:

Simply put, Goat Sheep Cow is beloved in Charleston. What started as a little wine and cheese shop in the South of Broad neighborhood, grew into a staple of the neighborhood before expanding with the opening of the Goat Sheep Cow North location. You may remember my review of Goat Sheep Cow North in my Guide to the Best of Charleston. The North location is much larger and includes a full indoor/outdoor wine bar seating area in addition to the shop. Their charcuterie boards are beautiful and every item on the food menu is to die for. Located on Meeting Street.

Graft Wine Shop & Bar:

Graft Wine Shop & Bar is so special because it is just what is sounds like, both a wine bar and a wine shop. However, it’s even more unique than it sounds. The walls are lined with different wines to choose from to take out or to uncork and enjoy right there in the bar. It might sound like it would be hard to pick a bottle but the two sommeliers (aka long-time friends) behind Graft created their own honest, relatable, and often funny tags for the bottles they sell. So it’s a blast selecting a bottle to enjoy! Graft also has a menu of wines by the glass and plays some of the best music in town. You’ll love the ambiance! P.S. follow the Graft Instagram for updates on food pop-ups. Located on King Street.

Babas on Cannon:

This new “old world café” opened in Charleston in fall 2018 and quickly became the best places to sip coffee in the morning, nibble breakfast and lunch during the day, and enjoy wine in the evening. We most frequent Babas during the drinking hours and love to go before dinner for drinks or after dinner to round out the night! I love Babas just as much when it is quiet and intimate as it is when it is buzzing with people. I adore their wine selection and their Spritz No. 2 beverage. I’ve included Babas under “best downtown bars” too. Located on Cannon Street.

Vintage Lounge:

If you’re looking for a lively spot out for date night or a girl’s night, then look no further than Vintage Lounge. The wine bar offers the finest selection of wines, champagnes, and craft cocktails as well as a menu of meats, cheeses, and small plates. The space is large but still has an intimate feel with plush booths and twinkling candlelit tables. Vintage Lounge also has an item on the menu titled “The Blind” for their daring customers. If you guess the glass of wine correctly, then it’s on the house. My girlfriends and I like to go at night too for a bit of dancing! P.S. don’t miss their back patio on a beautiful evening! I’ve included Vintage Lounge under “best bars with live music” and “best downtown bars” too. Located on King Street.

Coquin Café & Bar:

Coquin is a charming little coffee shop meets café meets bar that opened in Charleston in the fall of 2019! When you step into Coquin, you embrace the art of the Parisian Lifestyle. Coquin serves up bites all day long including pastries in the morning, sandwiches in the afternoon, and charcuterie + more when the sun goes down. Similarly, you can grab a specialty coffee during the day and switch to a yummy wine or martini at night. It’s a wonderful all day experience! Located on Spring Street.

Rudi’s:

If I were to dream up a perfect neighborhood wine bar and shop, it would look exactly like Rudi’s. The owner, Rudi, is always there and knows all his customers well but he knows even more about wine. Rudi’s specializes in Italian wines and thus 90% of the wines he sells come from Italy. Rudi’s is the perfect spot to wander into for wine and cheese if you’re a first timer to the spot, just visiting the area, or are just looking for an easy bottle of wine to enjoy that night. Rudi’s is located on Pitt Street, which is nestled in the Old Village of Mt. Pleasant.

Joséphine:

Joséphine is more than just a traditional wine bar. In addition to a mostly French selection of both vintage and modern accessible wines, Joséphine offers a delicious specialty cocktail menu and an elevated food menu. I was fascinated by the name of the wine bar itself. It was named for Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais (aka Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife) who is said to have owned the best wine collection of her time. Located on Spring Street.

Avondale Wine & Cheese:

If you find yourself in the West Ashley area, then this is the wine bar for you! It has a great neighborhood feel and is loved in the community. The wine list is super extensive and every cheese is absolutely mouthwatering. Located on Savannah Hwy.

Best Craft Beer Bars in Charleston, SC

Revelry Brewing:

I’m not a huge brewery person but if I find myself at one in Charleston, it’s often Revelry Brewing. Like many breweries, it is pretty industrial but I like it because it’s a rooftop, which makes it feel less industrial to me. I also like spending an afternoon at Revelry because of the food trucks! There is always good food. Located on Conroy Street.

Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co.:

Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co. is a more casual beer-focus take on the original Edmund’s Oast restaurant. The Brewing Co. is a craft brewery, taproom, and restaurant all in one! They have indoor and outdoor seating, TVs to watch sports, and 26 taps of house-brewed beers, wines, and cocktails. Located on King Street.

Cooper River Brewing Company:

As I’m not a huge beer drinker, the only craft beer bars I’ve spent much time at in Charleston are Revelry Brewing and Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co. However, as I said above, Edwin and my brother guided me as to what other beer-centric bars I should include in this post. Along with Revelry and Edmund’s Oast, the list includes Cooper River Brewing Company, Palmetto Brewing Co., Baker & Brewer, Fatty’s Beer Works, Low-Fi Brewing, Munkle Brewing Co., Tradesman Brewing Company, and Low Tide Brewing. All of these bars except for Low Tide Brewing are located in the ‘Brewery District’ of Charleston, which has a free shuttle that drives people around from brewery to brewery on the weekends! They each brew their own local beer and are known for something specific and special! Located on Mechanic Street.

Palmetto Brewing Co.:

See description under ‘Cooper River Brewing Company.’ Located on Huger Street.

Baker & Brewer:

See description under ‘Cooper River Brewing Company.’ Located on Stuart Street.

Fatty’s Beer Works:

See description under ‘Cooper River Brewing Company.’ Located on Meeting Street.

Lo-Fi Brewing:

See description under ‘Cooper River Brewing Company.’ Located on Meeting Street.

Munkle Brewing Co.:

See description under ‘Cooper River Brewing Company.’ Located on Meeting Street.

Tradesman Brewing Company:

See description under ‘Cooper River Brewing Company.’ Located on King Street Ext.

Low Tide Brewing:

Located on John’s Island, Low Tide Brewing is a major player in the flourishing Charleston craft beer scene. They pride themselves on their work with crafting beers for food pairing, which I think is so interesting. My brother says he’s a big fan of Low Tide. Located on Maybank Hwy on Johns Island.

Best Dive Bars in Charleston, SC

Bangkok Lounge:

There is nothing chic about Bangkok Lounge but it is a whole ton of fun! Bangkok Lounge is a dive-y karaoke bar on King Street that is a really fun spot to go when you are in a party mood. On the weekends, there can be quite a line so be prepared to get there early if you want to get in and sing. It’s important to note though that you can sing karaoke at Bangkok Lounge 7 nights a week! I’ve included Bangkok Lounge under “best bars with live music” too. Located on King Street.

Blind Tiger Pub:

We love Blind Tiger! It’s is a great neighborhood bar/restaurant with a lot of character and history. On the weekends, we love going at night when there is live music (a piano man who calls himself ‘Pork Chop’ is our favorite!). It’s also a great spot to dine daytime on the back patio. Blind Tiger isn’t too dive-y but it’s definitely not upscale by any means. Located on Broad Street.

Salty Mike’s:

Salty Mike’s is Charleston’s quintessential dive bar. In fact, my brother claims that if could only go to one bar in Charleston for the rest of his like, it would be Salty Mike’s. Salty Mike’s is on the water in the Marina so you can expect to find a lot of salty sailor types. It is part indoors and part outdoors so I love going on a Friday evening when work lets us. It’s a great dive bar to catch an ocean breeze. Located on Lockwood Drive.

Faculty Lounge:

Faculty Lounge is a dive dance bar. It can be kind of college-y but also really fun! In true dive bar fashion, it often doesn’t really pick up until after midnight. When the dance floor goes off, it really goes off! Located on Huger Street.

Recovery Room:

This is going to sound crazy but the Recovery Room is the #1 seller of PBR in the world. If that gives you any indication as to the type of dive bar this is. In addition to flowing drinks and dim lighting, you’ll find pinball, foosball, pool, bocce, live music, NFL and college football on TV, chicken wings, and sometimes Bill Murray. Located on King Street.

Warehouse:

An industrial-chic neighborhood bar with craft cocktails and elevated bar food. A great weekend spot during the day (they serve brunch) and all night long. Warehouse isn’t super dive-y but they do have pool tables and a very casual atmosphere. A line can appear on weekend nights. Located on Spring Street.

The Griffon Pub:

The Griffon Pub is Charleston’s take on an English pub. You’ll find all the classic pub fare you could ever hope for including fish ‘n’ chips, burgers, and craft beers. The walls are covered floor to ceiling with signed dollar bills, which gives The Griffon an extra dive-y atmosphere. Open day and night for darts, sports watching, eating, and drinking. Located on Vendue Range.

The Barrel:

The Barrel is an indoor/outdoor dog friendly, craft beer bar that features food trucks, live music, corn hole, shuffleboard courts, and beautiful sunsets. It is a great place to bring your dog on a gorgeous weekend day and one of the most fun dive bars in Charleston! Located on Folly Road on the way to Folly Beach.

If you’re planning a trip or a move to Charleston, then I hope this guide to the 40 Best Bars in Charleston, SC was helpful to you! There is no denying it… there is an endless amount of fun to be had in Charleston!

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