Where to Drink: Husk Charleston

Husk Charleston. Photo by Andrew Cebulka.
Husk Charleston. Photo by Andrew Cebulka.

Well-known and universally acclaimed as a restaurant that celebrates the ingredients and culinary traditions of America’s South, Husk, in Charleston, has been honored with any number of accolades, from Bon Appétit and Esquire 2011 “Best New Restaurant” nods to a James Beard “Best Chef: Southeast” award for founding chef Sean Brock.

But alongside its devotion to Southern fare, Husk (which, since its 2010 opening, has expanded to Nashville, Greenville, and Savannah) takes a great deal of interest in Southern whiskey, as well, with one of the best bourbon and rye selections in the city served at The Bar at Husk.

Wine and beer both get plenty of attention here, with a wine list arranged by terroir and soil style (rather than geography) and an entirely Southern draft list, largely drawn from small, lesser-known breweries. But whiskey lovers are just as well-served. One part historical, one part modern, the sophisticated cocktail list features barrel-aged Manhattans and lively punches, like the eternally popular “Charleston Light Dragoon’s Punch,” a 200-year-old recipe the bar team modernized, made with California brandy, dark rum, peach brandy, and black tea; and the Haymaker’s Punch, with Tennessee bourbon, a house-made apple shrub, and ginger beer.

If you’d rather sip your whiskey neat? The bartenders are only too happy to offer recommendations. Husk is home to over 160 bottles of American whiskey, according to bar manager Justin Simko. For the high rollers, Michter’s 20 Year Single Barrel, at a cool $125 for two ounces. For those after something a little more local? Simko might offer a pour from Charleston’s own award-winning High Wire Distilling, of their 100% sorghum whiskey. “It tastes like a good dark rum, a grassy rhum agricole and a rich bourbon all in one,” he says. Distinctly Southern, a little obscure, and above all, delicious: A perfect fit for Husk itself.

Carey Jones
Carey Jones is a San Francisco-based food, spirits, and travel writer. She is the co-author, with her husband John D. McCarthy, of Be Your Own Bartender, to be released in November 2018. She frequently contributes to Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Saveur, and many others, and formerly served as managing editor at the James Beard Award-winning food site Serious Eats.