Hanukkah begins next Tuesday. Christmas is in two weeks. Family is about to roll in. If you’re like us, you prefer to greet this time of year the same way you greet your Glenn Beck-quoting cousin Louie — with a cocktail in hand.
That’s right people, secure the perimeter, it’s time to stock the bar.
But for this year’s provisions, you needn’t simply trek into box store hell to grab a bottle of Jim Beam. The Lowcountry has all manner of locally-owned liquor stores, beer emporiums, and distillers. Here are a few we plan to hit up this weekend.
Barrel House Spirits
4827 Virginia Ave.
This new Park Circle liquor store has its grand opening this Sat. Dec. 13 at 11 a.m. complete with Mayor Summey there for a ribbon cutting. Lord knows we love a party. And what’s a better celebration than one that ends with a bottle in hand?
1956 Riviera Dr.
Get a 32 ounce or 64 ounce growler to go. Scratch that, you probably need both. Then you can store one in your childhood bedroom — you know, that room your parents won’t let your significant other sleep in even though you’ve been together for four years. You’re gonna need to sneak a sip of that Bell’s Two Hearted when your grandmother asks you for the tenth time, “When’s he gonna pop the question?”
High Wire Distilling
652 King St.
Just this week High Wire owners Ann Marshall and Scott Blackwell released their limited edition Heirloom Watermelon Brandy. You wanna score big with your fancy father-in-law who collects rare bottles of booze in his mahogany den he makes you take your shoes off to enter (like a goddamn child)? Pass him one of these, emphasize the word “limited,” and promise you’ll never hurt his baby girl.
630-A Skylark Dr.
Are your Georgia cousins all kinds of backwards? Then you might want to pull over on Savannah Highway to pick up a little something at Craft Conundrum. Then when your second cousin Beau snags a swig of your pint and declares, “Hey Cuz, this hur beer tastes like et haz punkin in et.” You can calmly say, “Why yes, Beau, that’s what is called a Jolly Pumpkin by La Parcela. Grab a beer and join me as I attempt to explain to you, yet again, that the South didn’t win the Civil War.”
334 East Bay St.
Dreading the arrival of the chosen one? No not Jesus, the other golden boy, your Ivy League brother? You’re gonna need to stop by Burris. Sure your brother just got into MIT’s mathematics PhD program and got your Mom a pair of pearls she “Just adores!” and, by the way, is dating a super model, but can he go shot for shot on a bottle of Jack? Yeah, didn’t think so. Have fun with that hangover baby bro.
Charleston Beer Exchange
14 Exchange St.
If home is where the teetotalers are, you might wanna make a dash for Charleston Beer Exchange. Not only can you load up on bottles to go, but they’ll ship beers to your home town. Think of it as a preemptive libation airlift.
Charleston Distilling Co.
501 King St.
Need a family holiday activity to entertain your guests? How about one with a buzz. Voila: tour Charleston Distilling Co. Between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. you can take Uncle Ralph and crew through the process of vodka production and then sample the goods after. Trust us, your family will thank you.
106 Church St.
Bout to smack that Frozen DVD out of your niece’s hands if she sings “Let it Go” one more time? Take her to goat.sheep.cow., shove her mouth with cheese samples, and buy yourself a really good pinot noir. By your third glass you’ll be singing along with her.
Pence’s Liquor & Wine
334 East Bay St.
It doesn’t matter whether your family prefers Fireball or fine wines, you can pick up all the goods at Pence’s. And if you need a reprieve from your mother-in-law’s yammering, Saturday night is the perfect time to stop by. From 4-7 p.m. Pence’s holds liquor tastings, and you wouldn’t be a Southern gentleman if you didn’t oblige them for a sample or two now would you?
House of Brews
1537-C Ben Sawyer Blvd.
After Christmas shopping all day, if you tell your wife you’re heading back to the house and instead make a stop here, you’re not technically lying, right? This brewski casa will make you feel right at home while loading you up with hard-to-find growlers.
610 Coleman Blvd.
Oh Holy Night, Aunt Gladys and Uncle Albert are talking about the war on Christmas again. You need a champagne cocktail and you need it like an hour ago. Race to Bottles and they’ll have bubbles, bitters, and sugar cubes in your hands faster than you can say “War? How ’bout this for war? Christmas is canceled!”
Striped Pig Distillery
2225-A Old School Drive
Flying home for the holidays? Heading somewhere frozen? Expecting blizzard conditions? Plan ahead and bring some moonshine. Striped Pig has a variety that should help you wait out the storm.
Now if you’re like some of us abstaining from libations this season for any manner of reasons — health, lifestyle, or due to a certain in utero subletter mucking up your merry making — we have some suggestions to help you feel just as jolly as your lush friends and family.
The Mocktail Charleston Mix
One part soda water, two parts Charleston Mix, three parts VIVID imagination, and you have yourself a Virgin Bloody Mary.
Bittermilk No. 3 Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour
Granted the whiskey sour is better with, well, the whiskey, but we love Bittermilk so much we can enjoy this version on its own. Simply put a little of this over ice and sip slowly.
Southern Twist Cocktails
Rochelle Jones makes a series of delicious and low-calorie cocktail mixes right here in Charleston. And her Lavender & Vanilla option can easily be blended with or without alcohol. Substitute Sprite for white wine and you have a light lavender spritz.
Now, drink up.