Summer is in full swing in the Lowcountry, and after eagerly welcoming locals and visitors back into bars and restaurants, Charleston-area cocktail creators are coming up with new warm weather-inspired drinks. Some spots are adding a drink or two to the mix, but other bars and restaurants have introduced completely new cocktail menus that are fit for summer sipping.
From margaritas to riffs on childhood summer favorites or French desserts, we got the inside scoop on the new cocktail menus at three local establishments: Basic Kitchen, Dashi and Little Palm Bar.
Basic Kitchen’s (Downtown, 82 Wentworth St.) bright Wentworth Street restaurant, which boasts a spacious outdoor patio, is the ideal place for a refreshing summer cocktail. In fact, the restaurant’s new drink menu was inspired by the warm weather and patio aperitifs, Basic Kitchen bar manager Jordan Morton told the City Paper.
“Like the BK food menu, our drinks are informed by what’s fresh and local, so you’ll find a lot of just-squeezed fruit juices and farm-fresh infusions on the list,” Morton said. “We’ve updated the menu to reflect two categories — a section based on ‘classic’ cocktails like the negroni and the daiquiri, but with playful twists, and the ‘BK Groovies’ with funkier libations like the Orange Popsicle and Peachy Keen.”
The Orange Popsicle screams summer with the combination of vodka and orange vanilla simple syrup, while the Peachy Keen offers bourbon enthusiasts a refreshing option thanks to the addition of peach, ginger and mint. And if you aren’t in the mood for trying something new, you can always stick with a Basic Kitchen classic.
“Of course, we still have our signature creation — the Beet Margarita — which is especially crushable in the summer,” Morton said. “All are really thirst-quenching and vibrant, and many can be made without alcohol.”
Speaking of margaritas, North Charleston fusion restaurant Dashi (North Charleston, 1262 Remount Road) added a full margarita menu featuring eight types made using various tequilas, mezcals and house-made mixers. According to Dashi general manager Paul Brylinski, six of the eight margaritas are brand new this month.
“I found that people really enjoyed the margaritas, and at the time we were really just starting the cocktail program,” said Brylinski, thinking back to when he debuted Dashi’s first two margaritas shortly after opening: the house and the smokey. “Since people really love them and they’re fresh and individually shaken, we wanted to be special and make sure everyone knew that.”
Those two options are still available along with six new margaritas: the watermelon, anèjo, ancho, spicy, skinny and fusion, which is made using Ben’s American Sake.
“We actually have this draft sake on tap, and it’s local sake from Asheville,” Brylinski said. “We ended up getting their lemon ginger sake, and a shot goes into the fusion margarita. We wanted some of that flavor that people don’t normally see in margaritas, especially since our restaurant is about Asian and Latin fusion.”
While the fusion is likely the menu’s most unique addition, the watermelon is undoubtedly the most refreshing.
“It’s summertime, and we wanted a seasonal margarita,” Brylinski said. “In that cocktail, we’re also using local Striped Pig watermelon vodka to get even more of that taste. We’re all about using local flavor and fresh flavor.”
We don’t recommend trying all eight in one sitting, but if you’re looking for a day to throw a few back, stop by on Saturday, when all margaritas — including the top shelf anèjo — are $5 from 4-6 p.m.
Little Palm Bar (Downtown, 237 Meeting St.) brought South Beach vibes to Charleston when it opened in May in the new Ryder Hotel, and the indoor-outdoor destination has three summer-themed additions to its already brand new drink menu: the vodka-based “Seven Day Weekend,” white rum-based “Wavy Baby” and the “Talking Bird,” a riff on a gin and tonic.
The Wavy Baby is a daiquiri variation based on the French dessert pairing of pistachio and rosewater, while the Talking Bird has been dubbed a “sunshine filled gin and tonic” thanks to the addition of toasted coconut and fresh lime and celery juice. But if you’re looking for a beverage that fits the beachy atmosphere at Little Palm, check out the Seven Day Weekend.
“The Seven Day Weekend is intended to be a poolside refresher with a mix of familiar yet unexpected flavors,” said Lauren Corriveau, lead developer for Proprietors LLC, a consulting firm that oversees Little Palm’s beverage program. “The result is a bright, highly fragrant sour that continues to evolve with every sip.”