Photo: Doar Bros.

The 10 Top Rated Bars in Charleston

Restaurants + Bars Food + Drink
by Katie Scott Aiton Apr 19, 2024

There’s so much going on with Charleston’s bar scene that you’ll be hard-pressed to accomplish everything in one trip. The city is home to some of the best cocktail bars in the South. The team at Doar Bros., for example, could go head-to-head with the finest bartenders in New York City, and lounges like the Belmont and 1920s-inspired Prohibition offer a sophisticated atmosphere and celebrate carefully chosen local ingredients for elevated classics.

Doug Warner, Executive Vice President at Explore Charleston, shares the best bars in Charleston are built on the back of “well-practiced mixologists,” who are imaginatively reinventing traditional drinks in a manner that “pays homage to the rich tapestry of flavors that define modern southern culture.”

Charleston’s craft beer scene is also flourishing. From established names with regional recognition to up-and-coming artisanal producers, there’s a lot to get excited about. Two breweries ranked in the top ten, with customers praising the taproom’s range of local beers, excellent comfort food, and welcoming laid-back vibe.

With so many great places to drink (and eat), Matador raked through patron’s reviews on Google Maps and Yelp to bring you a list of the top-ranked bars in the city. Ratings (out of five) on both platforms were added together for an aggregate overall rating. And although customer reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, collectively, they offer insight into the overall landscape. To further ensure accuracy, Matador only selected venues with more than 100 reviews.

To help you navigate the city and not miss out on the skills of some of the best bartenders, sommeliers, and brewers in the South, these are the best bars in Charleston, according to reviews.

Doar Bros.

Photo: Doar Bros.
Photo: Doar Bros.
Photo: Doar Bros.

Rating: 9.8 (4.9 Google Maps, 4.9 Yelp)

Family-run cocktail bar Doar Bros. has one of the most experienced crew of bartenders in town. Despite the small space, the bar and accompanying food menu pack serious heat. Bartender Stephen Blackmon says they have “an unmatched cocktail-focused program,” and that’s evident in the near-perfect score on Google Maps and Yelp.

The elegant European meets New York-style vibe attracts locals and visitors looking for a decent drink. The talent behind the corner bar allows for creativity, or you can sample the well-thought-out modern seasonal cocktail menu or fall back on classics like a Vesper or Hemingway Daiquiri. Pair your tipple with a side of paddlefish caviar and potato chips, whipped ricotta, and beetroot crostini — at a charming outdoor table — and you’ve got a fantastic afternoon set up.

Doar Bros.: 225 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

Bin 152

Rating: 9.2 (4.7 Google Maps, 4.5 Yelp)

Wine bar, market, and art gallery rolled into one, Bin 152 is where you go in Charleston for a glass of wine. The concept is simple: cozy atmosphere with exceptional wine, charcuterie, and cheese.

Ran by husband and wife duo, the bar’s international list will take you on a trip around the world with Old World French whites and heady Napa Valley cab sauvs. The cheese menu is equally impressive. La Tur, a soft from Piedmont, Italy, sits beside Bijou, a goat’s cheese from Vermont. Bin 152 does not accept reservations. If you want to snag an outdoor table (highly recommended in reviews), get there early or expect a wait.

Bin 152: 152 King St, Charleston, SC 29401


Photo: Bar167
Photo: Bar167

Rating: 9.2 (4.7 Google Maps, 4.5 Yelp)

Bar167, a Mediterranean-inspired bistro and lounge, occupies the historic building that formerly housed Fulton Five (a well-known northern Italian eatery.) Though originally conceived as an overflow space for the popular seafood restaurant 167 Raw, located around the corner, Bar167 has evolved into a destination in its own right.

Yes, you can come here for an ice-cold gin and tonic before eating next door, but the bar deserves your attention for longer than an aperitif stop. You’ll need more than one chili-salt rimmed Mallorca Margarita, and popular dishes such as the caviar cones with parmesan custard, arroz con negro with house-made aloi, and lobster pasta more than suffice for dinner.

Bar167: 5 Fulton St, Charleston, SC 29401

Belmont Lounge

Photo: Belmont Lounge
Photo: Belmont Lounge

Rating: 9.1 (4.6 Google Maps, 4.5 Yelp)

If you’re in search of a sophisticated drink in Charleston’s vibrant Upper King district, head to Belmont Lounge. In contrast to the lively energy of the street outside, the Belmont provides an intimate space where you’re guaranteed a well-mixed drink.

Belmont Lounge is considered one of Charleston’s pioneering craft cocktail bars. If you don’t know your Paper Plane from your Naked and Famous, just ask one of the bartenders, and they’ll run you through the classics and signature offerings. It’s a perfect spot for a bachelorette, but be prepared to heal up, as a Yelp reviewer says you’ll find “well-dressed locals” at this sleek establishment.

Belmont Lounge: 511 King St, Charleston, SC 2940

Frothy Beard Brewing

Rating: 8.8 (4.4 Google Maps, 4.4 Yelp)

Charleston breweries draw afternoon crowds with comfort food plates or locally owned rotating food trucks and, of course, expertly crafted local beer. One of the better taprooms is the Frothy Beard Brewing Company.

Beloved for its friendly atmosphere, come here if you’re interested in trying something different from the standard mass-produced beers. You can take a tour of the brewery before sampling a flight of mango and passionfruit golden ale, jalapeño pale ale, and a New England-style IPA. Yelp reviewer Bruce F recommends The Sip Sip Pass IPA, which you can get in a six-pack to take home with you.

Frothy Beard Brewing: 1401 Sam Rittenberg Blvd, Charleston

The Peacock

Rating: 8.7 (4.6 Google Maps, 4.1 Yelp)

The Peacock has multiple levels and a very different vibe (and crowd), depending on whether you’re there for an afternoon meal or a late-night rooftop hang. Peacocks is where you go with a group that appreciates a chic ambiance and is willing to dress up.

The second-floor Peacock Lounge opens at 5:00 PM and has an Instagrammable decor that takes inspiration from the venue’s namesake. V’s, a popular spot for live music, is on the same floor. It has a VIP area, which you can enquire about before arrival. It also has one of the best rooftop bars in Charleston, with stunning cityscape views. Five-star Yelp reviewers rave about the level of service and the efficient management of group bookings.

The Peacock: 404 King St Suite 107, Charleston, SC 29403

Burns Alley Tavern

Rating: 8.7 (4.6 Google Maps, 4.1 Yelp)

Burns Alley Tavern quickly became an institution since opening in 2006. The popular neighborhood bar is tucked away in an alley off King Street. It has a distinct dive bar feel, with exposed brick walls, a well-worn wooden bar, plenty of vintage beer signs, and University of North Carolina memorabilia (a nod to the owner’s roots). The beer is always flowing and you can expect decent live music on weekends. Yelp reviewers comment on the warm welcome they received and the friendly staff and locals who have taken up residence at the bar.

Burns Alley Tavern: 354B King St, Charleston, SC 29401

Holy City Brewing

Photo: Holy City Brewing
Photo: Holy City Brewing
Photo: Holy City Brewing

Rating: 8.9 (4.5 Google Maps, 4.4 Yelp)

Established in 2011, this award-winning brewery has become a beloved local institution, offering a wide selection of delicious beers and a fun atmosphere.

Located in North Charleston, just a short drive from the historic downtown area, Holy City Brewing has an excellent taproom with a large indoor seating area, an outdoor patio, and a mezzanine level for events. There are 28 beers on the taproom list, ranging from a tropical pilsner to a barrel-aged stout, and there’s always some sort of event going on. A rotating roster of bands plays every Friday and Saturday, and an all-day brunch menu with cocktails is available on Sundays.

Holy City Brewing: 1021 Aragon Ave, North Charleston, SC 29405


Photo: Prohibition
Photo: Prohibition

Rating: 8.5 (4.4 Google Maps, 4.1 Yelp)

As the name suggests, Prohibition takes patrons back to the 1920s with vintage-inspired decor, and dim lighting, that creates a speakeasy atmosphere. The cocktail bar, now in its 11th year, is the brainchild of James Walsh and Jim McCourt, who’ve even expanded their concept with a new location in Columbia, South Carolina.

The mastermind behind Prohibition’s inventive cocktail menu is Jim McCourt, the bar director and partner. Be sure to try some of their most popular creations, like the S’Express — a twist on the Espresso Martini featuring house-made espresso vodka, coffee liqueur, cold brew, and a touch of lemon oil. Prohibition also has the largest menu of Irish whiskey in South Carolina. There are three areas to the venue, the main bar (with live music), a small more intimate setting, and the patio — which is where you want to be on a balmy night.

Prohibition: 404 King St Suite 107, Charleston, SC 29403


Photo: Camellias/Jayro Williams
Photo: Camellias/Andrew Cebulka and Jason Williams
Photo: Camellias/Modus Photography

Rating: 8.5 (4.3 Google Maps, 4.2 Yelp)

Located within the Hotel Bennett, bar/lounge Camellias is known for its decor — inspired by the Russian Faberge’ egg — afternoon tea and Champagne list.

The décor is a bold pink, accented with marble reclaimed from the historic library that once stood on the same spot. The pink theme flows through the drinks menu, too. And although this might seem like a ploy to keep everything aesthetically in check, cocktails such as the Pink Perfection (Titos, St-Germain, citrus, topped with French sparkling rosé) sounds absolutely delicious. Book in advance if you are coming with a group, and consider looking into the afternoon tea experience, especially if you’re planning a classy bachelorette to Charleston.

Camellias: 404 King St Suite 107, Charleston, SC 29403

Discover Matador