French Quarter Bars & Nightlife

Establishment neighborhood
The Rooftop at the Vendue
19 Vendue Range St., French Quarter
Of all the rooftop bars in Charleston, Vendue probably has the best view. Like the others, it's part of a hotel, but the scene here is more casual. It's a large space, split into a few levels—walk up to the very top for an unobstructed, 360-degree view of Charleston, which is well worth the steps. In addition to patio seating, Vendue has a few nooks outfitted with wicker couches that are perfect for groups. They also serve lunch and dinner, and have live music every Sunday from 4 to 7pm.
The Gin Joint
182 E. Bay St., French Quarter
Despite the name, The Gin Joint doesn't really play favorites—the bartenders at this curved back corner bar serve up a range of clever cocktails, and the bartender's choice is never a bad idea (the menu encourages picking two words—i.e. spicy and unusual—to describe the flavor you're after). The bar food here is a bit more sophisticated than your average drink spot: pickled shrimp, clams and chorizo, ricotta-stuffed meatballs, pork buns with mustard green kimchi, and a smattering of cheeses and dessert plates.
Pavilion Bar
225 E. Bay St., French Quarter
For a small city, Charleston has a really solid collection of rooftop bars. This one sits at the top of Market Pavilion Hotel, and overlooks Market Street and historic Charleston with a view stretching to Cooper River. The pool here adds a slightly trendy vibe, and there's actually a pretty extensive food menu (apps, flatbreads, salads, sandwiches), making it a particularly nice spot for an afternoon drink (and bite, if you're hungry). It's also a great sunset place, and you could come here for cocktails before dinner at 5Church, which is conveniently located across the street.