Seven Charleston bartenders dish on their day-off watering holes 

A Shot 'n' A Beer

click to enlarge Jayce McConnell of Edmund's Oast

Ruta Smith

Jayce McConnell of Edmund's Oast

Charleston likes to drink. And the people behind the bar are no exception. If you ever run into your favorite bartender on the ordering side of an establishment and want to treat them to a drink, we'll make this easy. A shot and a beer.

You might think, especially with cocktail craft so ubiquitous, that bartenders enjoy indulging on their time off. Maybe a classic from the seminal Bon Vivant's Companion. Isn't it pretty to think so?

"I'm more of a shot and a beer guy when I belly up," says Indaco bar manager Jared Chafin — and nearly every bartender after, from dives to top posh spots — sounded like his echo.

Turns out, extravagant drink orders cloy quickly when you're on the receiving end all day or night.

So, we talked to seven of this city's top bartenders to see where and what they drink when they're not pouring the 2.3 gallons of pure alcohol that the average American adult drinks each year (Charlestonians, we'd wager, are overachievers). And when it's not a shot and a beer, what's a bartender's pleasure?

Jayce McConnell

Head Bartender at Edmund's Oast, 2013 Eater Young Gun Finalist, co-creator of the podcast Pocket Liquor

Favorite place(s) to drink: My three mainstays are the joints that automatically grab the high-octane rum (Smith & Cross or Plantation O.F.T.D.) when I walk in, which has been a dream of mine since my early twenties. Home Team BBQ downtown, Bar Mash, and Proof. Great drinks and a great staff who are excellent at helping me wind down after work or wind up for a fun night out.

Go-to drink order: Navy strength or overproof rum, often with a cold, crushable beer of some kind (local standards include Westbrook One Claw, EOBC Something Cold, Coast Kölsch). Also, daiquiris.

If you're feeling fancy: Sazerac. I'm particular about it so I don't order them often. I hate being 'that guy' at the bar who has a million parameters for their drink (looking at you, guy who makes business cards with his martini specs on it).

click to enlarge Dwayne Mitchell - RUTA SMITH
  • Ruta Smith
  • Dwayne Mitchell

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Dwayne Mitchell

Owner/Manager/Bartender at Local 616, 2014 Charleston Eater Bartender of the Year

Favorite place(s) to drink: I like to drink at places where I know the owner and/or bartenders working at the establishment. With that of course Local 616 is my favorite bar, but I can only be there so much! Downtown it's Barsa, as I've known Brittany and Megan for a long time and they do an amazing job on food and drink. In North Charleston, you'll find me at The Mill with longtime friends Greg and Tia bartending. On Folly, I'll be droppin' in at the Drop In seeing another good friend and bartender Kate B. Otherwise, If they have pinball — most of my friends and I will hit any spot with pinball around town.

Go-to drink order: Tequila, tequila, tequila! Casamigos Blanco on the rocks is my favorite. But I'll usually just have Espolon Blanco on the rocks. And a side of a tall vodka water with whatever fruit is available at the bar.

click to enlarge Caroline Woodruff - RUTA SMITH
  • Ruta Smith
  • Caroline Woodruff

Caroline Woodruff

Bartender at Proof and Lowlife

Favorite place(s) to drink: Besides where I work, my favorite is grabbing a breezy drink on the deck at Pour House, or some whiskey with Josh behind the bar or tequila and a High Life.

Go-to drink order: A margarita or a boulevardier. They can be made in so many ways and I like to see what people do with them.

If you're feeling fancy: If I'm looking for something different, I'll find Harper at The Macintosh or friends at Edmund's. I'm always interested to see what my friends have up their sleeves.

click to enlarge Megan Deschaine - RUTA SMITH
  • Ruta Smith
  • Megan Deschaine

Megan Deschaine

Bar Manager at The Macintosh/Vice President of USBG Charleston

Favorite place(s) to drink: I'm a homebody. My perfect night is cooking dinner at home with love and a good bottle of wine. That said, I knows a good bar when I sees one. Wine & Company for the wine flights and sincere hospitality. Proof, an industry favorite and the nicest door guy on King. One of my best gals, Caroline, works there and she is amazing to watch behind the stick.

Go-to drink order: At Wine & Company, the bubbles flight. At Proof it depends on how busy they are in conjunction with how drunk I am. If it's slow and I'm not drunk: a gin Gibson martini, wet. If it's busy and I'm anywhere on the sober-drunk spectrum: a beer + a shot.

Jared Chafin

Bar Manager at Indaco, BevCon cocktail champ, self proclaimed wizard, wolf papa

Favorite place(s) to drink: Moe's Crosstown Tavern, Edmund's Oast, or The Belmont.

Go-to drink order: Miller High Life and a pour of Fernet Branca at Moe's. A sour beer or IPA and a pour of Old Grand-Dad Bonded whiskey at Edmund's.

If you're feeling fancy: O.F.T.D. Last Word, substitute Plantation's 69% ABV rum for the traditional gin "Night Night Juice" at The Belmont.

click to enlarge Ariana Cohen - RUTA SMITH
  • Ruta Smith
  • Ariana Cohen

Ariana Cohen

Bartender at Prohibition, Occupational Therapy Assistant Student, and proud crazy cat lady

Favorite place(s) to drink: Depends on my mood. If I want to stay close to home I'll hit up Lowlife on Folly Beach for a relaxed, fun setting. When I'm looking for a great beer, Edmund's Oast for the awesome happy hour, sour beer choices, and ambiance; Revelry next. For a great cocktail, I love going to Proof and The Belmont.

Go-to drink order: Any cocktail with tequila! Or I keep it simple with a silver tequila, rocks, and fresh lime juice. If I don't want to get to boozie I pick a still rosé or sour beer.

click to enlarge Sarah K. Henderson - RUTA SMITH
  • Ruta Smith
  • Sarah K. Henderson

Sarah K. Henderson

Bartender at AC's, Real Estate guru with NextHome and "That girl in the pageant crown on the wall" at AC's

Favorite place(s) to drink: I am more of a "dive bar" kind of gal. I frequent Rec Room, Richard's, and The Sparrow. If I am feeling funky and fancy I love Stems & Skins.

Go-to drink order: Miller High Life, shots of tequila, and a dirty vodka martini if I'm feeling frisky. I keep it basic.

If you're feeling fancy: Old Fashioned. I love to sip and appreciate the flavors.


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