Timmons Pettigrew is the author of Charleston Beer and founder of CHSBeer.org.
“Charleston’s nightlife scene has undergone a shift in recent years, with the emphasis moving from dive-y bars to more high-end cocktail joints. But there are still some traditional spots that do it well. In Charleston Place Hotel, Thoroughbred Club is old school in all the right ways. It’s the ideal spot for a pre-dinner drink—with or without a jacket—before eating at Charleston Grill. For something off-the-beaten-path of downtown, there’s Gene’s Haufbrau (843-225-4363), the oldest continually operating bar in town. Head here for board games and beer. If you prefer inventive cocktails, the speakeasy-inspired Gin Joint recently opened on East Bay Street. The ‘Bartender’s Choice’ section on the menu lets you order by adjectives like fizzy and spicy, which they’ll use to mix up something special. And local bartenders love The Belmont on Upper King. Men in ties pour classic cocktails and extensive spirits while an Afrobeat soundtrack plays and black-and-white movies are projected on the wall. Order a whiskey and the housemade pop-tart.”