By Bartender Megan Deschaine
Megan Deschaine is a native Charlestonian who has been honing her bartending skills at 492 in Charleston since 2014.
My Cocktail Beliefs
I was taught first to build a firm foundation in the classics. Not only does this mean learning formulas that have stood the test of time for their balance or nuance, but also perfecting the technique to execute them. When creating new cocktails, I frequently find inspiration from cocktail names or specific ingredients. For the program we have built at 492, I love to incorporate whimsy with cocktails that transform, or interactive garnishes, or with drinks you can’t help but say with a smile. This connection I am able to make with the imbiber through the cocktail is what motivates me. I believe this is part of what good hospitality is.
492 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
T: 843.203.6338 | 492king.com
Charleston's Cocktail Scene
I like cocktail bars that practice these same principles that I was taught. I am slayed by good puns and spaces that bring the warmth maybe with a side of silly, and drinks still on point.
The spots I like to frequent and are listed in no particular order, and are certainly not the limit of good watering holes with talented bar people in Charleston. It is also worth noting that the cocktail culture in Charleston is expanding like wildfire. Let's revisit this list in 12 months, and there will be certainly be more favorites.
This is certainly an industry favorite. You can be guaranteed if there's a party being thrown here, you will definitely be sad that you missed it. Everything from Tiki Takeovers, to live Jazz, this dark cozy bar is a local favorite. The selection of spirits is on point, and the cocktail menu is a smart combination of classics and originals, and if the 30 some-odd listed cocktails aren’t enough to inspire a choice, each one of the ‘tenders is more than capable of knocking some proverbial socks off with an à la minute creation.
437 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
T: 843.793.1422 | www.charlestonproof.com
Newer to the scene, this bar has been killing it since opening day. And it's no wonder either, because each member of the bar team is equal parts super talented experienced professional, and fun as hell. They boast a huge collection of American whiskeys, I mean like huuuuuuge, and always have jello shots and daily daiquiris on deck. Plus there's a shuffleboard table, bocci court, and jukebox all within arms reach. And 90s edition sing alongs if you are right place right time.
701 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29403
T: 843.793.2636 | www.mercandmash.com/bar-mash
Closed For Business
This one has to be on the list because, as it is my boyfriend's favorite spot, and I am here a lot. There is always an amazing selection of craft beers on draft and daily beer flight options. The overall ambiance is very comfortable and fun with walls loaded with squirrel and other small critter taxidermy, old signs, some strangers in framed family photos, just eye candy for days. The food is great as well -- think more upscale pub food with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients and flavors.
453 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
T: 843.853.8466 | www.closed4business.com
Turn down the dark, narrow neighborhood street, step up to the low-lit corner doorway and ring the doorbell. Once in, you've stumbled upon many a local's favorite secret little bar. The space enjoyed a little facelift in the last couple years, and now has a "cool kid" vibe with low hanging Edison bulbs and old pictures of Charleston lining the walls. But this place is the total opposite of pretension, which is sometimes hard to avoid for some cocktail joints. The bartenders are smart and very friendly, they have a solid spirits collection and make a darn good cocktail.
391 Huger Street, Charleston, SC 29403
This bar embodies every element that a proper cocktail bar should -- very educated and well practiced bartenders, a back bar that would bring a tear to your eye, and a meticulous attention to detail and craft with drink execution that no one could slight. They also offer a delicious charcuterie and cheese program and home-made Pop-Tarts until 1am every night. The Belmont is a favorite for me for nightcaps. Any one of their 20-plus amaros on ice with a twist, or any one of the stiff and stirred menu options are my typical go-to.
511 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
This place offers live music six nights of the week, and free swing and salsa dancing lessons, creative cocktails, and thanks to a recent shuffle in the kitchen leadership, a killer food selection 'til late night to boot. The bar team here is very friendly and skilled. Go in on a time that's not crazy busy to cozy up to the bar and make a new friend. Order an Irish whiskey -- there's more selection here than I realized was even available.
547 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
T: 843.793.2964 | prohibitioncharleston.com
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