There are some days that are so blisteringly hot, not even an Italian ice will cool you down, so it's important to stay hydrated while slogging through the streets of Charleston. Last weekend, we investigated the multitude of outlets for liquid consumption, the essentials for any functioning human: water, beer, and coffee.
If you weren't at the Water Ball on Friday night, then you probably weren't having as much fun as we were. Charleston Waterkeeper hosts a fundraising fête at the S.C. Aquarium every year, and each iteration is better than the last. Upon arrival, guests were greeted with trays full of champagne. Staring out at the harbor as the boats passed under the Ravenel Bridge, we were reminded of the nonprofit's mission to keep Charleston's waterways clean. Cyrus Buffum, founder and executive director, took to the microphone to tell the audience a bit more about his organization's good works. It wasn't difficult to get caught up in the giving spirit after listening to the effusively charming Buffum address his guests. Luckily, there were volunteers throughout the crowd taking donations via iPad.
After the cocktail hour, guests were invited into the venue for a culinary voyage through some of Charleston's finest dining establishments. We were impressed by the flow of the dining stations and quickness of the chefs — we never had to wait for a plate or stand in line to satisfy our hunger. Mike Lata and Jason Stanhope from The Ordinary and FIG served clam fritters with coriander and crème fraîche, and even the non-seafood lovers in our group raved about the little patty of fried goodness. Raw Capers Blades from Clammer Dave were sumptuous in their simplicity. Watching the fish in the tanks, we were a bit doleful to think we were nomming on their cousins, but what a decadent reincarnation to come back as smoked Cobia escabeche from Home Team BBQ or cured Spanish Mackerel from The Grocery. Besides the abundant food, another highlight of the evening was a performance from Ben Bridwell and Creighton Barrett of Band of Horses.
From a focus on water to a concentration on one of its more malted offspring, we headed to the Charleston Beer Garden on Saturday. Brittlebank Park was transformed into a craft beer carnival, with stouts, lagers, and ales from various breweries from around the country. We noticed most of the bartenders were generous with their pours, so we made a beeline to the Jack's Cosmic Dogs airstream to line our stomachs. Passing the Beer Olympics corral on our way to the food trucks, we marveled that no one managed to injure themselves during the keg tosses. Flying aluminum barrels plus slightly tipsy patrons equaled a brave audience. The line for the Dogfish Head beers may have been the longest, but our favorite suds came from the guys at Holy City Brewing — though we might be partial to hometown companies. The alcohol was ample, but the biggest buzz of the festival was the arrival of the gang from the upcoming Southern Charm reality show. We wouldn't have noticed anything different about the four guys dressed in polos and madras shorts if they hadn't been surrounded by a production team and camera men. While we gawked at the group, wondering "Why, Bravo, why?" others shrugged and went back to drinking beer.
A little worn down after our day in the sun, drinking our weight in hops, Sunday was our opportunity to rejuvenate with some caffeinated beverages and relaxation. King Dusko, the new coffee shop-cum-art gallery on King Street, hosted an all-day opening with live music. Walking into the space, we were overwhelmed by the giant artwork from Will Milner and Sarah Haynes and surprised by the affordability of the pieces. Coffee from local company King Bean was offered, but most of the patrons seemed more interested in the cheap mimosas. Out back, everyone gathered at the mass of picnic tables beside the stage. The laid-back atmosphere reminded us hanging out at a friend's barbecue, while the guys from Wine Awesomeness likened the scene to the biergartens they'd recently visited in Brooklyn. The band, BYOG, urged the guests to get up and dance, but everyone seemed more inclined to sit and catch up with friends. If you don't have your own yard to gather in, complete with a stage and interesting art, then the staff at Dusko welcomes you to hang out with them on the weekends. It's a hip concept that we're sure will become popular with the Sunday Funday crowds.