They may not hold much street cred in the drinking world, but when you're looking to get a buzz and take up as little stomach space as possible, shooters are where it's at. These tasty concoctions of liquor and mixers come in endless varieties. Here are some local favorites.
Sometimes it feels like A.C.'s is an extension of the College of Charleston campus, with all the undergrads crawling around the place. And what do college kids love more than getting drunk, and fast? We're guessing that's why bartender Kevin Young laughed when we asked if shooters are popular at the King Street bar. They are. He says Jäger Bombs are the biggest sellers, though if you're looking for a "good value but wanna get plowed," go for a Kamikaze (vodka, triple sec, lime juice, Sprite, and cranberry juice). While he admits that most shooters have a "relatively tasteless name" that refers to some sexual act and embarrasses the person ordering it, A.C.'s bartenders are known for creating signature shots and giving them their own original monikers. Young's specialty, the Felix (named after his cat), is a mixture of Bailey's, Kahlua, root beer schnapps, Buttershots, Coca Cola, and sometimes Wild Turkey American Honey.
Adventurous (and hungry) drinkers stop in at Pearlz for their signature oyster shooters. "Most people are scared of it, but it looks a lot scarier than it tastes," says bartender Josh Morrison. They've been churning out the same recipe since they opened in 2005: pepper vodka, horseradish, cocktail sauce, lemon, and, oh yeah, a raw oyster. The only thing that's changed is that they're now using a new vodka, distilled just for them in North Charleston. The best part: These suckers are only $2.50 a pop during happy hour.
Granted, the Recovery Room's blue collar crowd is more likely to order a PBR with a shot of Beam than a fancy shooter. But if you tell the bartender you want to try something fun with a crazy name, they'll hook you up. We asked Tim Murray about some of his most popular concoctions, and he mixed us a Crown Apple Pucker — Crown Royal, Apple Pucker, and pineapple juice — which packed a punch and was damn tasty. A variant is the Apple Sauce, which uses Goldschläger instead of Crown. You'll also want to try the White Gummy Bear, a mix of raspberry vodka, peach schnapps, Sprite, and sour mix. The PBR crowd might scoff when you order these shooters, but they'll be secretly jealous.
Drinkers at the Pour House may not be creative with their shooter choices, but they sure are consistent. "We go through God knows four to five cases of Jäger a week," says bartender Josh Hamrick. The concoction? Jäger Bombs, beloved by guidos and hippies alike. The combo of Jägermeister and Red Bull is potent, tasty, and an unbeatable pick-me-up when you're at a late-night show.
Voodoo Tiki Bar is known for their unique selection of tropical-themed cocktails, but you might want to look past the big bowls to their homemade infused liquors. The selection changes every few weeks based on customer suggestions. In the past few months, they've offered everything from a blueberry limoncello to cucumber basil vodka to pineapple vanilla tequila. They've even made a chocolate bacon vodka. Needless to say, these yummy concoctions go down smoothly all by themselves.