Cool Places to Have a Cocktail in South Carolina

By:Page Ivey


In a state that never needs a reason to celebrate, some bars endure. They're always great. Great food. Great beer. Great cocktails. Maybe even a great view. Just all around, well, great. If you're the kind of person who's always looking for the coolest place to have a drink, here's a list for you.

The Griffon, 18 Vendue Range, Charleston, is the "unapologetically awesome" dive bar with a better than average menu and a longer list of craft and other beers from Colorado, Georgia and right here in Charleston. The décor famously includes dollar bills stuck to every available surface in a historic building that's housed a tavern for generations. It’s that rare place where locals and tourists mix well. Come for the beer and stay for lunch, which features a daily rotating special from fried shrimp, chicken or pork chop to pot roast or lasagna. Open daily for lunch, dinner and late night (about 2 a.m.).

The Windjammer, 1008 Ocean Blvd., Isle of Palms, is exactly what it sounds like: the perfect beach bar with tons of live music and a great view of the ocean. The Windjammer offers standard bar fare, but the view and entertainment can’t be beat. Every day is a party, and you never know who might stop by to jam (think local favorites Hootie and Blowfish or the Blue Dogs) or celebrities who drop in to judge a bikini contest. Open daily for lunch, dinner and late night (about 2 a.m.).

Fat Harold’s, 212 Main St., North Myrtle Beach, is “the beach club” referred to in song and lore. Home to practitioners of the state dance, the Shag, Fat Harold’s offers one of the coolest bars on the beach. You can learn to dance while sipping your favorite beverage or just watch some of the best shaggers shuffle across the floor. Do not leave without dancing, even if you don't know how. Open 4 p.m.-2 a.m., Sunday-Thursday; 1 p.m.-2 a.m., Friday-Saturday.

Peaches Corner, 900 North Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, is one of the oldest places to get a cold beer on the beach. Open since 1937, Peaches is famed for its beer, foot-long hot dogs and double cheeseburgers. Owned by the same family since 1943, the restaurant has recently started serving breakfast, in addition to lunch, dinner and late night snacking. Open daily 8:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m.

The Second Avenue Pier, 110 North Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, was built in the 1930s, wiped out by 1954’s Hurricane Hazel; rebuilt, then wiped out again by 1989’s Hurricane Hugo. In a testament to persistence, it was rebuilt, again. Now, the Southern anchor of Myrtle Beach’s Boardwalk offers the Pier View Bar, a wraparound open-air bar where you can cool off after a day on the beach or start your night on the town. The view doesn’t get much better than this. Open daily at 11 a.m.

The Oak Table, 1221 Main St., Columbia, has a one of a kind view of the South Carolina Statehouse and a very sophisticated vibe. You can get a Manhattan, a martini or even a gimlet. You can dip into the restaurant’s very deep wine cellar or you can simply enjoy a beer. Come for the drinks, stay for the food and the view. Politics discussion optional. Open Monday-Friday for lunch, closes at 2 p.m., and opens for dinner Monday-Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Sunday brunch is 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

The Whig, 1220 Main St., Columbia, has no view; it is underground. But you will not find better food at a dive bar than here: smoked gouda mac and cheese, roasted garlic black bean hummus and you must try the Whig chicken sandwich, grilled or fried, with spicy pimento cheese. Open daily at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. on weekends).

The Lazy Goat, 170 Riverplace, Greenville, has a wonderful view and equally great food. Here we recommend getting a table on the patio and ordering drinks and something from the intermezzo menu, like the meat and cheese trays or the Spanish pizza. The Goat sits right next to the Reedy River in downtown Greenville and has a great selection of wine, still and sparkling, as well as some “lazy twists” on classic cocktails. Open Monday-Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Victor’s Bistro, 126 West Evans St., Florence, is located in the Hotel Florence. The best time to come is for brunch and enjoy the over the top, build your own bloody Mary bar. You might as well eat, and Victor’s does Southern breakfast with the best of them: shrimp and grits, omelets to order and even an option or two for vegetarians. Open daily at 6:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. on Sunday) for breakfast and lunch with a break before dinner service starts at 5 p.m.

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