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Charleston Wine + Food

Tasting Notes


Half Past Midnight Cocktail Recipe

Ring in the New Year the right way with this sparkling creation from Jess Rehs of Jackrabbit Filly!

1 oz. Toasted Pecan Virgil Kaine Whiskey

.5 oz Burnt Orange Simple Syrup

Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne

Crushed Pecans


Orange Twist (for garnish)

Mix together whiskey and simple syrup in the glass, and top with champagne. For garnish, coat the rim in crushed pecans and sugar and serve with an orange twist. Cheers!

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Hard Refresh Cocktail Recipe

Hit the reset button with a bubbly + refreshing cocktail from the bar at Renzo!

1.5 oz Punt e Mes vermouth

2 oz fresh grapefruit juice

Sparkling wine

Grapefruit bitters 

Lemon twist

Shake vermouth, grapefruit juice, and bitters in shaker with ice. Strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Top with sparkling wine and express lemon twist into glass. 

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Belgian Waffles

Give your classic waffle a flavorful update with a recipe from Joe & Kevin Nierstedt of Kinfolk!

Photo credit: Donna Pilar

Makes about 10 waffles

3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
3.5 teaspoons dry active yeast
2/3 cup of water (lukewarm)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, melted
2 cups pearl sugar

1) Heat water to 105-110F, pour over yeast & brown sugar in mixing bowl, let stand for 5 minutes 
2) Combine flour and salt into mixing bowl with paddle attachment
3) Pour yeast mixture into the flour and turn on medium speed and mix until dough becomes shaggy (about 1 minute)
4) At medium-low speed, add eggs one at a time and mix for about 20 seconds between each egg until all eggs are incorporated 
5) Melt butter, allow to cool, slowly add melted butter to mixing bowl 
6) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1.5 hours in a warm spot
7) Fold in pearl sugar and chill dough
8) Portion dough onto parchment lined sheet trays 
9) Cook waffle on preheated waffle iron for 2-3 minutes.

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2019 Holiday Gift Guide

The holidays are here and that can only mean one thing...time to buy gifts! If you’re like us, there is nothing quite as stressful as trying to pick out the perfect gift for a family member, a close friend, or a coworker. Lucky for you, we’ve done the heavy lifting and picked some of our favorite goods + experiences to bring a smile to anyone’s face. With picks for foodies, wine lovers, and everyone in between, don’t waste one more minute scouring Amazon for the right present. Even better? They won’t regift these.

Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron skillets are indispensable in the kitchens of home cooks and professional chefs alike. This tried-and-true kitchen essential is as versatile as they come - perfect for searing, sauteing and frying. Le Creuset’s sleek take on the classic cast iron will look stylish in anyone’s kitchen while making home-cooked meals simple + easy.

Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark

Williams Sonoma’s peppermint bark is a holiday favorite, crafted using the finest ingredients, including custom-blended Guittard chocolate and topped with peppermint candy pieces. We love to include the holiday-themed tin in gift baskets or as sweet stocking stuffers. You might want to buy more than one, though. Once you start eating the bark, you won’t want to stop.

Foodie Magazines

Magazines are the gifts that keep on giving! Buy the foodie in your life a subscription and they’ll have a treasure trove of delicious recipes and interesting stories delivered to their doorstep for the entire year. Some of our favorite food-centric pubs include Food & Wine, Taste of the South, SAVEUR, Fine Cooking and Cherry Bombe. The icing on the cake? You won’t have to spend time trying to wrap a box.

Drake Walk

 If you have a novice baker in your life or a ride-or-die Champagne Papi fan, we’re bringing Drake Walk to the Holy City for a hands-on class led by Joy the Baker. They’ll learn the art of decorating, including piping technique, how to write on a cake, and how to stage the perfect photo of your confectionery creations. 

Top-Notch Knives

Whether your a casual home cook or a bonafide boss in the kitchen, a good knife is vital to meal-time success and a great gift for anyone who likes to cook. While there are plenty of solid options out there, we’re big fans of Wüsthof Knives USA and Middleton Made Knives. Both of these brands make some seriously sharp cutlery guaranteed to bring clout in the kitchen. 

Anson Mills Rice

Want a stocking stuffer that screams Charleston? Toss Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice in for a versatile ingredient straight from the Lowcountry. The rice’s sweet + nutty flavor makes it the perfect sidekick to any dish or as the star of the table for your next southern feast.

Wine...with a twist

You can’t go wrong with a classic. Wine is the ultimate gift for anyone and everyone. The team at Bottles is at-the-ready to help you find the perfect bottle to bring to your work holiday party or surprise a vino-loving friend. Looking to gift something a little unexpected? Bottles's selection of canned wine offers a fun + funky take on their corked counterparts.

William Grant & Sons Spirits 

Help your buddy’s bar cart out by giving them a staple spirit to be the centerpiece of their collection. William Grant & Sons offers up a badass lineup of whiskeys, gins, and more that will give your home bar some street cred. Our advice? We’re big fans of Hendrick’s Gin which makes a magnificent martini. Shaken, not stirred, of course.

Light Reading for the Libation Lover

Just like their foodie peers, any libation lover will appreciate drink recipes and tips from the experts magically appearing at their home throughout the year. VinePair and Imbibe are two of our favorite publications serving up unique takes on the beverage world every month. And, again, no wrapping. It’s a win-win. 

Stölzle Wine Glasses

Want something to pair with that bottle of wine you bought? Stölzle’s Revolution wine glass brings a modern update to your traditional vino vessel to help your varietal reach optimum performance. Wrap two of these bad boys up with your favorite blend for a gift that’ll keep ‘em cheersing long after the holidays past.

Cans + Kegs

As we said above, canned wine (and the kegged variety, too) are just as good as their bottled brethren. Give your special someone the gift of a good time with tickets to our Cans + Kegs event where they can taste these cool wines along with delicious bites. 

Not Your Ordinary Workout

CHSWFF isn’t all oyster shucking and wine tastings; we’ve got a packed schedule of wellness experiences, too. These aren’t your average workouts, either. We’ve got a barre class in an actual bar, kickboxing in a brewery, boot camp set to the soundtrack of Queen, and a slow flow full of zen. Pair these tix with a sweet new water bottle or other fitness gear for a power-packed present.

Dalai Sofia Kombucha

Need a solid stocking stuffer option for the health-conscious person in your life? Look no further than the funky ferments from the guys at Dalai Sofia. This kombucha is produced locally in Charleston, with plenty of flavors to choose from. 

Zero George’s Holy City Detox Getaway

Taking a vacay doesn’t have to mean giving up your wellness routine and Zero George’s Holy City Detox package is making sure of that. Included in the package is a private session with Sarah Frick of The Works, a copy of One Part Plant by Jessica Murnane, a curated meal plan by Sakara, and dinner at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant with chef Vinson Petrillo. 

Blender Bombs

Let’s face it, eating healthy can be hard. Blender Bombs take the guesswork out of meal planning, offering up nutrient-packed meal replacement that actually tastes good. Stick a box of these in a stocking or wrap them up with a new blender to make any wellness warriors heart sing.

A Stay at Charming Inns 

Jet-setting can be stressful so slow it down and consider a staycation for you and the globetrotter in your life. Charming Inns has a portfolio of beautiful, historic properties, including Fulton Lane Inn and Wentworth Mansion, that offer luxurious + cozy digs in the heart of downtown Charleston. Throw in a gift card to their award-winning restaurant, Circa 1886, for a gift that’s way better than another pair of socks.

A Culinary Adventure

Give your family or friends the world (metaphorically speaking, of course) with tickets to our new, globally-inspired Night Bazaar. From March 5 - 7, Holy City Brewing will turn into a night market each evening with food infused with flavors from every corner of the globe, sips from far-off destinations, and exciting experiences. You won’t even need a passport for this journey.

J. Stark Travel Bags

A good travel bag is a must for any adventurer. J. Stark makes high-quality, hand-crafted bags right here in the Holy City that are as functional as they are cool. With everything from small toiletry bags to heavy-duty duffels, there’s something for everyone and these bags are built to last.

Don't forget about dinner

Everyone loves getting gifts, of course, but the real fun of the holidays is gathering around the table with your loved ones and creating new memories. The US Foods CHEF’STORE has everything you need to for a cheerful holiday meal, making it easy to cook for all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and other assorted guests.

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Add these Charleston restaurants to your to-eat list

Charleston is known as a culinary capital, and for a good reason. Charleston eateries spare no expense when it comes to dishing out unforgettable dining experiences. Whether you’re looking for a hearty meal complete with a juicy steak or international fare inspired by flavors from around the globe, the Holy City’s restaurants represent the diversity + uniqueness of the Charleston culinary community. While there is no shortage of delicious dining spots, we’ve picked a few of our favorites to add to your list.

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In Good Company: Alan Shaw + Greer Gilchrist

By: Victoria McMillin

Have you ever walked into a new restaurant or gym and thought “I wonder what goes into operating a place like this. What are their schedules like? Do they have a life? I’ll bet this owner straight forgot what pizza takes like.” I have done that more times than I can count. Being a business owner is not easy, and being one that is part of the wellness community allows for its own set of stereotypes and assumptions. I sat down with local business owners Greer Gilchrist of The Harbinger Cafe and Harken Cafe and Alan Shaw of Rhapsody Crossfit to get insight into how they view wellness, what their lifestyles are like, and if pizza and beer are ever on the dinner menu. 

Victoria: Start off telling me how you know each other? You two seem close.

Alan: We opened Rhapsody last July and Greer was one of our first members.

Greer: I joined in August.

Alan: And she just started working out and we became really good friends. Greer was incredibly skeptical of CrossFit, even to this day sometimes she’s like “hmm, I don’t know”, but at the end of the workout she’s like “I did that, I made it through.

Greer: That is still a present tense (laughs). I have been so busy since opening Harken, that I hadn’t worked out in a long time. But yesterday I worked out, and I slept like a baby. 

Tell me about your podcast Alan. I know Greer has been on it before.

A: It’s called Rhapsody Radio. It is not about fitness or food. It's more about having coffee conversations with people about everyday life. We talk about leadership and struggles of business ownership, and life and love, all that stuff.

G: Yeah, I guess it's kind of coming of age stories. You talk about where people came from and how they got to where they are. 

I love “How I built this." Is it kind of like that?

A: Oh yeah, totally. My husband is a Broadway producer and people all the time tell him, “You’re so amazing and successful, I will never be there,” and he’s like, “It took me 15 years to get to this place.” I think it's really interesting to see how people got to where they are. Giving insight into that helps give people hope. Everyone has a progression to get to their dreams.

Not an overnight success, it is something people work daily for

G: People forget that. People all the time in their 20’s think, “I already need to be here,” or even when they get older, they get upset that they aren’t at a certain point, and it takes a really long time. Hearing backstories, hearing timelines is very important. When I was on the podcast, the episode was called “Made with Love”. It’s just about needing to have a heart with anything you do. That’s what makes the difference. If you are just going through the motions, people will see through it. 

Greer, why did you open Harken? When did you decide you wanted a second restaurant?

G: We always had in the plans that we wanted a second. We opened The Harbinger in June 2017 and we were approached by the developers here in October 2017 about opening it. So we’ve been working on it for a really long time. It’s now October 2019 so it has been in the works for a while. So yeah, we felt like this area needed it. Cameron had a lot of design inspiration she needed to use up, and I had a lot of food inspiration I needed to use up, and we just always wanted a little sister for Harbinger. 

I love it. Are there any intrinsic differences in the menu?

G: Yeah, it’s a completely different menu. So its not intrinsic differences, its complete differences. (laughs) They have the same bones though. I mean you can walk in here and know that it's related to Harbinger. 

It has a very similar vibe

G: Right, the vibe we don’t want to change, but the design is different. It still has all of Cameron [Neal, Greer’s business partner] in it, so it’s similar. 

I haven’t even eaten the food yet, but I can tell they are sisters. It’s a beautiful space. This is a question for both of you. What do you consider to be your dietary lifestyle?

G: I feel people probably think both me and Al have these really healthy diets because you are a fitness expert and I have a healthy bakery, but I don’t subscribe to any diet. (laughs) I have been told that I eat like a teenage boy.

A teenage boy? Is that like pizza and nachos at all times? 

G: (Laughs) Exactly! I had nachos for dinner with beer. 

So you don’t deprive yourself. 

G: No, I do not. I like all food.

Your menus are pretty plant-based though, right? I go to Harbinger if I want a nutritious meal. 

G: Yeah, I like veggies and I understand balance. I don’t eat pizza or nachos, usually, ever. I have to get up very early and work very late. My day is just about endurance. If I eat what I really want, which is like Doritos, I will feel terrible. 

A: I think it's about awareness, right? We both understand what food does to your body, so we make conscious choices. Like if I am going to go to Home Team BBQ, and I am going to get nachos, then I’m making that conscious decision, and that’s okay. I’m also not going to do that every night. Just like Greer said, waking up at 4:00 am and not leaving until 9:30 at night, you have to be an endurance athlete, so you have to fuel your body in that way which is really essential. 

And you probably know your body more than most people. So you know that if you have 10 beers, you’re going to feel like crap for a few days. 

A: Oh yeah, if I have 10 beers, you won’t see me for a couple of days. (laughs) That is game over. I’m a cheap date. Give me 2 beers and I am good to go. 

G: Oh my God, I ate those nachos because I had one beer and was like, “I’m so drunk, give me the nachos.” (Laughs)

A: (Laughs) Oh my God, I love you. I mean, we live in Charleston. It’s food central. When you live in Charleston you get spoiled on the food. When you go anywhere else, nothing can compare to what’s going on here. That being said, it's also really, really rich in food here. Our entire population at Rhapsody, I don’t think there’s anyone that completely restricts their diet from something.

G: Yeah, you guys never talk about it which is so great. There’s no shame around anything, which is something I love so much. It's not about getting the bikini body. In fact, I think the last Christmas party, they served pizza. And not like cauliflower crust, like real true pizza. Everybody type is there, every fitness level is there. Everyone is embraced

A: The last thing I want to do is shame anyone. That is not helpful in any sort of fashion. Everyone is coming to health and fitness in a different way. If someone wants help with nutrition, we are there to help you with that, but I’m not going to shove it down your throat. I just want you to show up every day and get your hour of fitness in. If you can do that, I guarantee you will see results. That maybe being happier in your everyday life, but you will see a difference. It's about the community that we’ve created there. It is inclusive for everyone. There is not a cookie-cutter mold of “this is what a Rhapsody member is”.

G: It's not about getting a six-pack and just eating lettuce. I feel like it's always focused so much more often on not physical goals.

We have a whole wellness component to Charleston Wine + Food this year. Wellness has become a buzzword and people think, “I go to the gym and I eat salads and I’m practicing wellness,” but there is a whole picture to it, like what you were saying. How would define wellness or what is wellness to you? 

A: Wellness encompasses every aspect of your life. Wellness is how you sleep. It's how you interact with your family members. How your drive to work is, your fitness level, what you put into your body, what you are drinking, and also, meditation and mental clarity. All of those things are incredibly important. If one of those things is out of whack or out of sync, that is when we start to feel unwell, right? But I think more and more, it's not just about looking good naked. That’s easy. Stop eating, drink water, and get on the treadmill for 2 hours and you’ll lose weight. 

Right, calories in, calories out.

A: Exactly, that has nothing to do with wellness. What it has everything to do with your mental state. If I feel good about myself, then the rest will align. Most people are trying to focus on “if I look like this, then this will fix that.” But we need to focus on past history. I used to be a big guy, I used to be 230 lbs. I was really unhealthy and used to hate to look at myself in the mirror and didn’t like myself. But, at the same time, once I started to focus on my inward beauty, and that started to line up, the rest started to line up. I started to eat better, I started to sleep better, hydrate, meditate, go to the gym. Once I started to focus inward and like myself, and my mental clarity started to happen. People like to start on the outside, but that’s not how it works. It starts on the inside and works its way out. And I am the living proof of that.

G: That’s the hardest stuff. The internal. The outside stuff is easier. 

Greer, what about you? What do you consider wellness to be?

G: I’m probably going to agree with what Alan said. I don’t think that wellness comes from what you eat, or how many miles you run, or anything like that. I think it's all about how you feel and how you take care of yourself. For me, I am a little bit neurotic, so I have very clear definitions for myself of what my wellness is, and when I stray from that, it becomes very obvious. For me, it is very important that I pay attention to what I eat because I love junk food, and if I eat that, then I feel terrible, sleepy, have brain fog, so I need to eat a lot of veggies, talk to my friends and family, exercise, I need dessert. (laughs) So I need all those things in my everyday life. When we opened Harken this week, I fell off and it was really obvious. Yesterday I felt awful and at the end of the day was like, “I still have a million things to do, but I am going to give myself the gift of exercise.” And I felt so much better afterward. 

And it’s therapy. You’re probably better at your job when you take care of yourself.

G: Right, and you have to remember that you don’t win a prize for treating yourself crappy. It’s not like “I’ll run myself into the ground for this” because then you’ve just run yourself into the ground (laughs). And that sucks.

A: Yeah, I feel the same way. You’re not a martyr. 

G: And you could brag about it, I guess, but hopefully someone is there to be like “shut up.” (laughs)

I love that you two aren’t the quintessential idea of what a gym owner or restaurant owner is considered to be like. Alan, you aren’t sitting there being like, “everyone needs to go keto all the time”. And Greer, you seem to have a well-rounded lifestyle. There is a kind of belief that the restaurant industry is like a “hard knock life.” Work hard, play hard, drink until all hours of the day. 

G: It’s so funny because my mom is an ER doctor and raised 4 babies, and my dad is a doctor too. People think, “Oh, you work such grueling shifts,” and I’m like, “No, my mom worked grueling shifts.” There she is, 5 months pregnant working overnight shifts saving people's lives. Maybe I work 14 hour days, but at the end of the day, I’m not saving anyone’s life. I think what I do does matter, but it doesn’t have to be this big dramatic thing. Like I am not going to work a double shift and then feel like I have to rip shots, and that makes me a hero. 

A: It’s a mind shift right like you can look at it like, “This is going to be really grueling,” and go down that rabbit hole, but it’s the get to versus have to mentality. Words are powerful. Even its 4:30 in the morning, I get to go to my Rhapsody home. 

G: Even if it’s dishes and it’s 9:30 at night and I’m mopping, I could think, “This sucks," but I get to mop the restaurant that I worked so hard for. 

Thank you guys for all the insight and the time, this was awesome. 

Victoria McMillin is a wellness and lifestyle blogger based out of Charleston, SC. She is also a member of the Charleston Wine + Food Brand Ambassador team. You can connect with her on Instagram at @apenneformythoughts and on her blog, www.apenneformyhtoughts.

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