Whether you’re topping off the night or looking to do a little day drinking, Charleston is a good place to be. Nicknamed the Holy City for the large number of churches, there’s also a nice balance thanks to a good selection of rooftop bars. Not only are these spots a great place to relax and unwind, but they also allow you to take in the lovely views of the historic church spires below. Plus, what could be better than combining drinking and heights, right?
There are quite a few high-altitude watering holes in Charleston, so we’re doing some of the leg work for you. And while the vibe may vary at each, one thing remains the same: There’s just something, well… elevated about sipping a drink from above while watching life march forward down below. Those people at ground level just don’t know what they’re missing.
Here are our picks for the best rooftop bars in Charleston.
- The Rooftop at the Vendue – The Vendue boutique hotel is billed as “Charleston’s Art Hotel,” so you know The Rooftop has to be a feast for the senses; and it does not disappoint. The visuals here are impeccable, and the shiny bartop, elegant lighting, and wood deck come together seamlessly. Add in the stellar views and The Rooftop is unforgettable. Check out the Ravenel Bridge, Charleston Harbor, and the French Quarter as you enjoy a delish al-fresco lunch. Or sip the evening away.
After sunset and the weekend is the best time to go if you want a higher-energy vibe. You’ll find plenty of classic cocktails with a twist, as well as local craft beers and a nice selection of wines.
What to drink? Try the Red Moon Margarita – Belle Isle Honey Habanero moonshine, Cointreau, blood orange, lime, and sparkling wine. Zing!
- Citrus Club – Located on the 8th floor terrace of The Dewberry, a classy mid-century modern boutique hotel, Citrus Club is many folks’ pick for the best views in Charleston. From the club’s rooftop patio, you’ll marvel at the sunset over Marion Square as you sip a citrus-y cocktail. Hence, the name… see how they did that? Of course, there’s a nice selection of beer and wine, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend a specialty cocktail. The food menu is limited, but the flavor is anything but. (Shout out to homemade plantain chips with mango-tomatillo salsa.)
Heads up: Citrus Club is billed primarily as an amenity for hotel guests, so you’ll need to make a reservation if you’re not staying at The Dewberry. They’re only open Wednesday through Sunday, so mark your calendar. The good news? As a LEED-certified hotel, The Dewberry is a totally smoke-free property, so enjoy your drink without a side order of someone else’s cancer fumes.
Cheers! Try the Coconut Daiquiri – Plantation 3 Stars, lime, coconut syrup, Peychaud’s bitters. Aahhh, smooth!
- Henry’s on the Market – Charleston fun fact: Henry’s was established in 1932 and is the oldest continually-operating restaurant not only in Charleston, but also in the state of South Carolina. Their sign says “Henry’s Jazz & Seafood,” and both are done right.
The vibe at Henry’s is sort of like coming home after a long absence–you’re relieved to be there, pleasantly relaxed and having a good time, and looking forward to staying a while. (If your family’s super dysfunctional, scratch that comparison.) It’s a true blue neighborhood bar if ever there was one. Depending on the time of year, there’s usually a good mix of tourists enjoying the views of the Charleston City Market and locals catching up with friends. There’s nothing pretentious and no fancy oddball concoctions at Henry’s–just straight up classics done well, with generous pours to boot. And at just $10 a pop, it’s easy to indulge. There’s also a pretty okay wine and beer selection, with a few local brews worth checking out.
To sip: Try the Moscow mule. That chilled copper mug on a sultry Chraleston night is insanely refreshing.
- Revelry Brewing – Can we all agree? Beer is good. Dogs are good. Having a beer with your dog at Revelry? Gooder-er than both! But let’s get serious, because the craft of brewing is something the folks at Revelry do not take lightly. Yep… Revelry is a craft brewery and rooftop bar in one. You’ll find a diverse selection of brews–both bottled and on tap–as well as yummy Latin- and Asian-inspired goodies with funky names. How about a “Sexy Roll” or some “Revelry the Lover?” And unlike some places that offer
trendy-sounding names sans flavor, Revelry’s plates pack plenty of lively tastes.
The rooftop tasting room features great views of the Ravenel Bridge and the Charleston sunset. And stating the obvious here, but the vibe is one of revelry; especially on weekends when local bands pump out live music. There’s a genuine laid-back friendliness and simplicity here, with a mix of hard-core craft beer aficionados and folks just looking to chill out and sip some suds.
Recommended: The aptly-named God’s Favorite, a Belgian golden strong ale with a 9% ABV. It’ll make you love this dog-friendly bar even more.
The Watch Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits – Head to the top floor of The Restoration, one of Charleston’s best boutique hotels, and you’ll find this popular farm-to-table restaurant. Like most other rooftop bars in the city, the views are spectacular, and the panoramic shots of the Ravenel Bridge and downtown are truly epic.
The Watch prides itself on the quality of their locally-sourced ingredients, and you’ll get an authentic taste of Charleston in their New American breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. The drink menu features sophisticated craft cocktails that attract a refined yet relaxed crowd. It’s the perfect excuse to spend the entirety of happy hour enjoying the views and chatting with friends.
Of note is The Watch’s elegant yet minimalist industrial style outdoor patios. They’re designed to complement the hand-crafted cocktails and make for some enviable Instagram photos.
Celebrating something special at The Watch? Try the 75 Wentworth, a fun and fizzy combo of gin, thyme, Pimms, and prosecco. Cheers!
Stars Rooftop and Grill Room – Plenty of visual intrigue awaits you in this 1930s-style hotspot with a gorgeous walnut bar. Enjoy delectable New American cuisine with several wood-fired specialities like herb-crusted pork roulade and spit-roasted chicken. As an added bonus, you can watch the chefs prepare your dish in the beautiful exhibition kitchen.
The drink menu is exceptionally good. You’ll find everything from artisan wines on tap, to bottle service and local craft beers, to a full spirits menu with an impressive array of signature cocktails.
If it’s splendid views you’re looking for, you’re in the right place, as Stars is the only rooftop bar in Charleston with 360-degree views. Admire the church spires as you gaze over the city’s Historic District. This is a very popular place for locals and visitors alike, so expect a good balance of the after-work crowd and Charleston newbies checking out the cityscape. And be sure to get there early if you’re in a group, as seating can be scarce when the place is hoppin’.
Enjoy a taste of Charleston with the Bobby E. Jones, made with house-made lemonade and local Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.
The Cocktail Club – Whether you’re a fancy and refined person or just want to feel like one for an evening, The Cocktail Club is the place to be. This upscale Charleston lounge describes itself as “dedicated to the art of the craft cocktail;” and wow, do they mean it! Everything about this place is high-quality. You’ll find house-made infusions, rare liquors, freshly-squeezed juices, and freshly-picked garnishes from the rooftop garden for their classy concoctions. Extremely knowledgeable bartenders are at the ready for recommendations.
Expect amazing views outside, but the real treat here is indoors. The building dates to 1881 and much of the interior–including the custom-made bar–utilizes reclaimed original materials, creating a one-of-a-kind Charleston bar experience. Original beams, leather seating, fireplaces, and wood barrel accents complete the look.
What to drink? Honestly, anything really, as every drink at this little speakeasy-style spot is done to perfection. Forced to make a suggestion, we’ll recommend The Macho Man Dandy Savage. It’s dandelion-infused gin, yellow chartreuse, wildflower honey, lemon juice, and orange bitters.
Élevé – Head to the fourth floor of the Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston and you’ll find this elegant yet whimsical little gem of a restaurant and rooftop bar. Thanks to the hip Art-Deco styling sprinkled with fanciful unexpected touches, Élevé offers a unique dining and drinking experience.
The menu features seafood-forward classic American cuisine. Selections are relatively upscale, although not inappropriately pricey, despite its placement in a luxury boutique hotel.
The vibe is a bit Alice in Wonderland-y and the crowd can lean artsy and bohemian. However, you’ll also find plenty of average Joes and Janes grabbing a drink after work. Or pretending they’re at an adult tea party. Either way, the views of the Historic District and the romantic Charleston sunset are well worth your time. And with a solid wine list and a nice selection of specialty cocktails, you’ll want to linger a while.
To sip: Try a glass of their own Kessler Collection house wine. The Highlands single malt Scotch is also a smooth choice.
Uptown Social – This high-energy hotspot offers up thin-crust pizza and a good selection of traditional yet upscale pub fare. The wings here are fabulous–they’re smoked then flash fired and are available by the bucket for bigger groups. Or just really hungry drinkers. Buckets of deep fried meats is a joyous thing, indeed, and the atmosphere here reflects this happiness. If you’re looking for one of the best parties in Charleston, Uptown Social is for you. It’s also the perfect place to catch the game, as there are more than 40 (yes-forty) TVs on the first floor and rooftop patio.
The drinks are as fun as the crowd, with boozy gems like the Grape-ful Dead and One-in-a-Melon helping patrons stay happy. There’s also a solid selection of bottled and draft beers. Plus, the frozen drinks are always a hit, especially in the Charleston heat.
The only drawback is that the views aren’t nearly as good as the city’s other rooftop bars. But with 40 TVs and plenty of old and soon-to-be friends, you won’t miss it here.
Frozen drink reco: the Day Rager. It’s Tito’s Handmade Vodka and plenty of Energy. Whoa!
See? Everything in Charleston really does seem better from the top. Add some choice libations and the views of the Holy City get even better. Now go grab a drink.