36 Hours in Charleston, SC

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Cocktails and charm in charleston 

“During the settling of the American colonies, it was said that the Spaniards would first build a church, the Dutch would first build a fort and the English a tavern. Welcome to Charleston, an English colony founded in 1670.”  – Mark R. Jones

Before we spent our Monday at the Masters Tournament, we decided to make a full weekend out of our excursion and visit Charleston, SC. Neither of us had been before and the allure of a cool, spring day on the coast was calling.

Whenever we travel we like to say "we take the spirit of Sanford with us," looking for those friendly and hospitable moments we so often experience in our hometown. Charleston didn't disappoint. 

Accommodations

When I initially had the idea of taking a little detour to Charleston the Mr. panicked. We’ve been really good at staying on/within budget, paying off previous trips, attempting to recover from an unforeseen emergency tree-removal, etc. But the prices for Easter Weekend in Charleston were “just a bit outside” what we wanted to pay, even on Airbnb.

  Charleston Airbnb

Charleston Airbnb

However, patience and searching every couple of days paid off! After checking Airbnb for the 20th time, I came across an apartment that seemed too good to be true for the price. We’ve always had pleasant Airbnb experiences, but you never know when that dud might sneak up on you. Well, we haven’t had a dud yet. 

Our Charleston apartment was in a beautiful (read ritzy) neighborhood and sandwiched between two stately mansions. The first floor of the historic structure had been used as stables and the second floor was the servants’ quarters, although you wouldn’t have known it from the well-appointed interior. Let us know if you’d like the link to the listing, but as of today it seems it’s booked for the next several months. Word got out and we got lucky! It’s always nice when your accommodations set the tone for the rest of your stay.

Exploring

We arrived late Friday night so didn’t get a good look at the city until the following morning. Our Airbnb host provided everything we needed for a light breakfast before heading out on foot.

Thanks to my siblings-in-law I think the Mr. and I have begun a new tradition. They gifted us a Big City Hunt last year and we used it when we visited Edinburgh, Scotland. A Big City Hunt is a scavenger hunt app that you can use at over 200 cities around the world. You answer questions, complete photo challenges, and learn so many things along the way. We feel it’s a really good way to explore new surroundings and come across sites you might otherwise miss. 

We decided to do the Charleston Treasures hunt to hit some of the city’s highlights. You can take a few hours or a whole day to hunt if you’d like. I recommend not rushing it too much. However, I have trouble following my own advice - once the game is afoot I am ready to tackle each new task!

Our Charleston Big City Hunt began on the waterfront and ended about four hours and seven miles later on Rainbow Row, famous for its easter-egg colored homes. We felt we had a much better lay of the land after that.

Drinks and Bites

That afternoon we hit up two bars that were on our “must-drink” list: The Dewberry Living Room and the BAR at HUSK.

The Dewberry Living Room

We had such a good time at this mid-century hotel bar. Opened in 1964 as a federal building it was recently renovated and repurposed by John Dewberry who has inserted Charleston’s southern charm into a comfortable, clean, and appealing mid-century modern style.

Named Imbibe’s 2018 Cocktail Bar of the Year, the Living Room is classy, brassy, but not too sassy (it’s ok, I rolled my eyes when I wrote it).

We saddled up to the bar at 3 p.m., right when they opened. We enjoy earlier hours at popular bars as it’s not crowded and you can chat with the bartender. Thomas was there in his white jacket to take our order and make us something delicious.  

I choose the Mr. Nice Guy from the Light and Bright section of the Dewberry Cocktails menu. I'm a fan of Old Tom Gin and Lillet Blanc so it was a quick decision. The drink was rounded out with Mancino Bianco, Grapefruit, and Blue Curacao. Mr. Nice Guy is also a looker. A beautiful drink for a beautiful afternoon.

The Mr. chose the Ichor & Glass, a smokey libation of Compass Box Whisky, Orangerie, Heering Cherry, Sweet Vermouth, Dry Curacao, and a perfectly round ball of ice.

For round two I had a French 75 and the Mr. had a Plymouth Gin Martini. When visiting a new bar we enjoy trying a specialty cocktail and following that up with a classic. The Mr. is basically working on an "experiment" where he "compares" Martinis and how each bar/bartender makes them. He really loves his Martinis so it's a good excuse.

The Living Room also has nom-noms so we split a juicy burger to fuel us to our next stop. 

The BAR at HUSK

Husk has been hailed as one of the best restaurants in one of the best culinary destinations of the South. But maybe you’re like us and while you really enjoy food, you travel for the drinks. And at the time, Husk restaurant was booked two months out. So head next door to the bar! 

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I had the aptly named A Brit in Burma. I've been on a turmeric tea kick lately so was immediately drawn to the ingredients: Gin, Pimm's, Carrot, Turmeric, Cucumber, and Mint.

After the drinking we had done earlier this seemed like a healthy option. Right? Maybe? I'm not a huge fan of vegetables but if you can slip it in my drink then I'm willing to give it a try. I'm so glad I did because it was absolutely amazing. Savory, earthy, and a little sweet. 

I wish we could have stayed longer but it was very crowded as I had anticipated. My advice is to get there right when they open and when natural lighting for photos is best ;)

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Bonus: Queen Street Grocery

Since we had arrived late the night before and started our adventuring early that morning, we were feeling pretty exhausted and decided to enjoy the rest of the evening at our fabulous Airbnb. So on our walk back to the apartment we popped into Queen Street Grocery. This cute little corner store has fresh crepes, sandwiches, smoothies, craft beer, and bottles of wine to take home; and we did just that.

Brunch

Millers All Day

We stumbled upon this all-day breakfast spot for Easter brunch. It was close, new, had good reviews, and we just hoped we wouldn't have to wait in a long, long, long, Brunch Village line (Portlandia, anyone?).

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Luck was our lady that morning and we breezed right in and sat at our preferred spot in any locale - the bar. The interior is beautiful with a vibrant mid-century flair; but it's all housed in an almost 200-year-old historic building. 

Offering breakfast all day, Millers highlights Southern grains and other quintessentially Southern delights with a twist.

Their cocktails were light and delicious. I had the Champagne Remedy with Vodka, St. Germain, Blueberry, Basil, Lemon, and Bubbles. The Mr. ordered the Mellow Yellow Sour (pictured) with Mellow Corn Whiskey, Yellow Chartreuse, Lemon Orange cordial, and Soda.

It was the perfect way to end our 36 hours in the Holy City. We know there's several more bars we'd like to visit - so look for us next time, Charleston. Now that we are more familiar with you we very much look forward to visiting again and hitting up more hot spots and history!