Inside Look: The Darling Oyster Bar, Charleston

It doesn’t get more quintessential Charleston than sitting at a sun-soaked bar, listening to the scrape and shuffle of oysters being shucked over a glass of Fish House Punch while watching the action of bustling King Street unfold. That’s the scene at Charleston’s newest oyster bar, The Darling Oyster Bar, which also brings top-notch cocktails into the mix. Open since February and located in a 1900s-era building that formerly housed Union Provisions, the space combines weathered wood tables and a worn zinc bar, paired with furniture from antique shops, hand-blown light fixtures and a color scheme resembling the interior of an oyster shell. “It’s a fanciful take on a Southern seafood place,” says designer Smith Hanes. “With architectural references to oyster bars from another era and banquettes inspired by Dad’s favorite motorboat, the place inspires guests to dream of being on the water or the beach.”

Seafood is obviously the main draw on the food menu, and the drinks menu is flush with sparkling wine options to pair with the oysters. The cocktails also follow the coastal theme, with a menu conceived by bartending vet Boris Van Dyck, who is locally known for his work with cocktail catering company Icebox, and consulting gigs for Striped Pig Distillery, Charleston Bloody Mary Mix and Badger Drinking Vinegar. “The main goal was to keep [the cocktails] light, fresh and simple as we pay homage to twists on some great classics like the Fish House Punch and the Paloma (both served on tap) along with originals to accompany our varied raw bar sections, fry baskets and delicious non-seafood dishes,” Van Dyck says.

If you start with oysters, pair them with the house specialty: a combo of blanco tequila, dill-infused Lillet Blanc and fresh dill. The rest of the menu is similarly refreshing, with highlights like the Sherry Colada (in which cream sherry replaces rum) and the tiki-inspired Shoulder Monkey, a blend of Monkey Shoulder Scotch, grilled pineapple and sage syrup, orgeat and lemon. 

Scroll through the gallery above for a tour of the bar, and check out the recipe for their Basil Daisy here.