“With Bittersweet Pride,” The Grocery Announces Hallie Arnold’s Departure

hallieThe Grocery’s Hallie Arnold, who last fall memorably created a Post and Courier cocktail for StarChefs.com’s Charleston event (OK, it looms large in our memories), has accepted a position with Bombay Sapphire.

According to The Grocery’s Facebook page, tomorrow night is Arnold’s last shift.

Arnold, a member of the last graduating class at Johnson & Wales’ Charleston campus, racked up a series of awards while bartending for The Grocery. She was a finalist in Bombay Sapphire’s national search for the “Most Imaginative Bartender,” and her vodka cocktail was chosen as the official cocktail of this year’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival.

New Cocktails at The Cocktail Club

cocktailclubThe Cocktail Club, which sports an admirable selection of Southern-made spirits, is adding two new cocktails made with Charleston liquors to its list.

In addition to The Right and Wrong, featuring High Wire Distilling Co.’s Hat Trick gin, and the Striped Pig vodka-based A Pig’s Tale, the upper King Street bar is also now serving cocktails made with vegetable-infused tequila and mescal.

To mark the menu’s launch, The Cocktail Club is hosting an interactive cocktail class on Mar. 22 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $25; call 231-1568 for reservations.

Two Bar Crawls Scheduled for March

In case drinkers need more incentive to hoist a pint during St. Patrick’s Day week, the Folly Association of Businesses is again hosting its holiday pub crawl to  raise money for local charities.

The beneficiaries of the Mar. 15 event haven’t yet been announced, but the roster of participating bars and restaurants includes Loggerhead’s, Woody’s, Folly Brew Pub, Drop-In Deli, Planet Follywood, Crab Shack, The Grill and Island Bar, Surfbar, Blu, Rita’s Seaside Grille and Snapper Jack’s.

Each of the Folly Beach venues will offer food and drink specials from 12 noon until 5 p.m. For more information, check out visitfolly.com. Continue reading

The Cocktail Club Offers Cash Prize For Heartbreak Tale

clubSingles typically stay home around Valentine’s Day, but The Cocktail Club is trying to draw out the unattached crowd with a “Jilted Lovers’ Party,” featuring live music and five-buck glasses of wine.

Although attendees at the 9 p.m.-1 a.m. event aren’t required to prove single status, the bar is inviting drinkers to submit their “worst love story.” “The stories will not be read out loud or shared,” promises spokeswoman Angel Postell. Winner takes home $250, so even if you don’t get lucky, you can still get rich.

And the party’s scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13, so jilted lovers who get together can celebrate the holiday in more traditional style the following night.

Newly Renovated Big John’s Prepares to Re-Open This Week

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New lamp, new table, new benches, same stickers.

“We have a side bet that people are going to come in and not know what we’ve changed,” says Robert Hightower, who — along with fellow Rarebit restaurateur John Adamson – last fall assumed responsibility for resurrecting Big John’s, which is scheduled to reopen this week  Monday at 7 p.m.

Big John’s owner Ryan Condon partnered with Adamson after taking over the 60-year old bar’s management from his nephews, who he felt had betrayed the soul of the legendary watering hole; Condon particularly disapproved of an arrangement allowing Roti Rolls’ Cory Burke to serve kimchi and cow’s head in a venue formerly renowned for its pickled eggs and cold sandwiches.

Under the leadership of The Rarebit’s team, the bar will focus on more mainstream items from the grill, although it will offer a much more extensive menu than Big John’s did in its heyday. “Our intention is to be a viable lunch place,” Hightower says. Continue reading

Food & Beverage Industry Remembers Christopher West

chriswestChristopher West was a much-loved member of the local food and beverage community, but there was never any question that the native Charlestonian identified himself as a writer first: The word was tattooed on his forearm in such a way it could be read whether you were standing alongside him or seated on the opposite side of the bar.

“That’s part of why he liked working F&B,” West’s friend and former employer Garret McNally, owner of Mac’s Place, recalls. “He got stories from it.”

Before West died Saturday at the age of 40, he was working three nights a week at The Griffon Pub, the last in a long string of Charleston restaurants and bars. He was also a regular contributor to Skope, a music magazine based in Boston. Continue reading

Cooking Channel Looks to Improve Food at Local Dive Bars

“Belly Up,” a new Cooking Channel show devoted to elevating the food menus of dive bars, is now scouring Charleston for makeover subjects. Presumably, Big John’s Tavern isn’t planning to apply.

Big John’s owner Ryan Condon last month tossed out tenant Cory Burke of Roti Rolls, in part because the inventive chef’s Ethiopian-influenced cooking was too far removed from the pickled eggs and coldcut sandwiches he associated with the Big John’s of his youth. But “Belly Up”’s casting director Danya Berman believes “new, innovative, enticing bar foods that won’t break the budget” can help save struggling dive bars.

I’m super excited about the possibility of a South Carolina episode — Charleston seems to be a foodie town,” Berman writes. “Hopefully there is a dive bar that wants to remain a dive joint, but with a really delicious bar menu.” Continue reading

Gullah Cuisine Adds a Sports Bar

Taking advantage of the remaining football season, Gullah Cuisine this Saturday is celebrating the grand opening of its new sports bar.

The Mount Pleasant restaurant already had a bar, but recently remade it to emphasize spectating: According to staffer Terry Baxter, a new 40-inch television was recently installed behind the bar and another two screens are planned for the back wall.

Available bar snacks include wings and boiled shrimp, Baxter says.

Cocktail Club Hosts High Wire Distilling Co. Launch Party

For drinkers who don’t feel like ambling to what’s now the far end of trendy upper King to visit High Wire Distillery, the Cocktail Club on Oct. 23 is hosting a free launch party featuring the new operation’s vodka and rum.

In addition to spirit samples and a pair of High Wire cocktails, the event will feature meaty snacks such as bacon fat caramel popcorn and banana bread with whipped duck rillettes.

The 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m. party will run on a first-come, first-served basis. Find more information here.

Citadel Alums Worry About Renovation of Big John’s Tavern

Ryan Condon has repeatedly referenced his plans to remake Big John’s Tavern as the bar he remembers, but his use of the word “renovation” in an interview apparently alarmed fellow members of the tradition-minded crowd.

“We want to know what’s going to happen to the nametags,” says Scott Sutter, a 2001 Citadel graduate, who called me from Connecticut on behalf of the many classmates who’d contacted him.

The nametags, Condon confirms, are safe.

“We don’t intend on removing any memorabilia,” Condon says. “We’d like to add more to it.” Continue reading