Unlike the locals vs. tourists divide you find so often in other destination cities, in Charleston it’s nothing for a couple of tourists to find themselves at a table next to four or five college students enjoying themselves in true Charlestonian fashion, i.e., loudly and with lots of good food and strong drink nearby.
Indeed, the Holy City is downright ecumenical in its partying. The smokiest dives also have some of the best brunches. The toniest restaurants also have some of the most hopping bar scenes. Tourist hot spots written up in all the guidebooks also have their share of local regulars.
But through it all, one constant remains: Charleston’s finely honed ability to seek out and enjoy the good life. It’s a trait that comes naturally and traditionally, going back to the days of the earliest Charleston drinking and gambling clubs, like the Fancy Society, the Meddlers Laughing Club, and the Fort Jolly Volunteers.
Bars close in Charleston at 2 a.m. The old days of the “mini-bottle”—in which no free pour was allowed and all drinks had to be made from the little airline bottles—are gone, and it seems that local bartenders have finally figured out how to mix a decent cocktail.
At the retail level, all hard liquor sales stop at 7 p.m., with none at all on Sundays. You can buy beer and wine in grocery stores 24/7.
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition