A Prohibition-style cocktail bar just opened on Hilton Head, adding a unique twist to the island’s bar scene.
The only way to enter the Whiskey Room at Charbar is in true speakeasy fashion —through a hidden bookcase — and as soon as you step foot on the other side of that bookcase, you’ll see what all the fuss is about.
The Whiskey Room is a place where details matter. It took owner Nick Bergelt and his company HHI Hospitality 18 months to complete the project.
Here, old Hilton Head meets new Hilton Head; a place where both worldly whiskey experts and the millennial who loves Instagrammable cocktails that tastes like a big city can share a drink.
Located on Hilton Head’s south end in Park Plaza, the Whiskey Room is Bergelt’s fourth restaurant on the island. The lounge is attached to Charbar, a cheery eatery with some of the best burgers on the island.
Bergelt — a 32-year-old entrepreneur and Hilton Head local — says he’s is on a mission to revive and recreate the old Park Plaza of the early 2000s he remembers as a teenager.
“Eighteen years ago, Park Plaza was the epicenter of Hilton Head. It was the Metro, 211 Park, Monkey Business, and Electric Piano. It was hustling and bustling and it was the place to be. I saw the potential of it then,” he said. “Then, I came back in 2011 and most of those businesses were dark.”
Bergelt said the building where Charbar is now had been the home of eight different restaurants in seven years before he purchased it in 2012.
Once Charbar was up and running, “we thought ‘how do we create more unique concepts built around what the island needs?’” he said. “I always think ‘what are the places where I would want to hang out.’”
Piece by piece, Bergelt bought up real estate in Park Plaza, and the Whiskey Room is the latest in making his Park Plaza vision come to life.
This new place makes me excited, not only for the future of Park Plaza, but the cocktail culture on Hilton Head. Here are five reasons why you should check out the Whiskey Room.
1. The specialized spirits.
After years in the restaurant and bar business, Bergelt has come to the conclusion that “a lot of spirits are misunderstood.”
“Take tequila, for instance. A lot of people say they don’t like it because of a bad experience in high school,” he said. “It was a cool challenge to convert a bunch of non-tequila drinkers to tequila and to deliver that concept in a restaurant with Holy Tequila! (another of his Park Plaza properties).”
Bergelt built the Whiskey Room from that same concept — specializing in a certain spirit, in this case with whiskey and bourbon. The specialized cocktails were developed to challenge your liquor palate, crafted with flavors that can “make anyone appreciate whiskey.”
2. The decor.
Once you enter the Whiskey Room, you’re transported to a simpler time. The room is designed specifically for the social celebration of cocktails (and you immediately forget that you are actually in a strip mall on an island).
The sepia-toned lighting, punched tin ceiling and rustic brick walls framing a mega display of liquor are just a few of the many decor details that make this bar timeless. You almost expect to see flappers and well-dressed gangsters in the corner booths.
3. For the love of whiskey.
More than 120 hand-selected whiskeys and bourbons sit on back shelf of the Whiskey Room, which can be both intimidating and exciting. But if you don’t know a whole lot about whiskey, have no fear.
“Our bartenders have trained for months on all things bourbon and whiskey and if you want to learn, they can give you a true educational experience,” Bergelt said.
4. The menus are made for sharing.
The Whiskey Room’s food menu is all “sharable, social, and cravable,” with items such as flatbreads and small plates. The drink menu has Punch Bowls (pictured above), which are specialty crafted cocktails made for groups of four to six people.
5. Live music.
The Whiskey Room will also feature live and local music every night. It’s open from 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesday through Saturday with live music starting at 9 p.m.