The team behind the Doar Bros., the new cocktail bar at 225 Meeting St., has been having a good time planning the cocktail menu. In addition to classics like the Boulevardier and Sazerac, there’s a tight collection of signature cocktails.
The impetus for the Burnt District, a smoky mezcal and pineapple cocktail with walnut bitters, was a fire in 1838 that decimated a swath of Charleston's peninsula.
When researching the property, general manager Peyre Lumpkin and owner Jonathan Doar came across a map that outlined the damage of the fire that started on Fulton Street and leveled one-fourth of the city as it spread all the way to the wharves on East Bay Street. The buildings on Meeting Street between Society and Market streets were all lost. A map of the “burnt district” shows 225 Meeting St. smack dab in the middle.
Another cocktail, this one created by bar manager Megan Deschaine, commemorates civil rights activist Mary Moultrie, who organized a protest against two local hospitals because of their working conditions for African-Americans. Moultrie marched down Calhoun Street with Coretta Scott King in 1969.
Deschaine says she happened upon Moultrie’s story while researching Charleston history and was so excited to learn about it that she wanted to salute Moultrie’s bravery with a special cocktail.
For Doar, the French Huguenot, or French Hug, is a shout-out to the Doar family’s heritage. It’s essentially a truffle martini that looks like a dirty martini without the olives. It's made by steeping Botanist Gin and a dry Dolin vermouth with Burgundy truffles to give the drink an earthy flavor that provides just a hint of truffle.
Jonathan Doar has been working on the space for about a year, slowly transforming the former O’Hara and Flynn wine bar into Doar Bros., a sleek yet comfortable cocktail bar that he opened with his brother Adam. “It’s always been a dream of ours,” he says. “We just thought’d it’d be a restaurant and not a cocktail bar.”
By the time they open on Monday, Doar expects to have installed drapes on the front windows and completed final tweaks to the cocktail and food menus.
Doar will serve as the chef while cousin Peyre Lumpkin will be the general manager. Both have long resumes in the food and beverage industry.
Doar is an alum of Robert Carter-era Peninsula Grill and was the opening chef for Triumph Bar in Seattle. When he moved to Charleston, he tapped his cousin, who was managing Starz, for a bartender job so he could get some experience working behind the bar. He’d mainly dabbled with mixology, which he’d become very interested in while living in Seattle.
Doar and Lumpkin are “thrilled and amazed” to have hired Megan Deschaine, a popular bartender who made a name for herself at The Macintosh and Restaurant 492, to manage the bar. She says it was over martinis that she realized the three shared similar philosophies and approaches to hospitality and service.
“I knew it was a good match,” she says. "We want to provide an experience that doesn't feel stuffy. We want the space to feel comfortable and cozy where people are not afraid to ask questions."
The bar is small, only 35 seats, and dark with walls painted midnight blue. The banquettes are covered in green upholstery and the bar stools are covered in a gold plush fabric. The swanky design is the handiwork of Doar’s wife, Marinela, who recently opened a Charleston office of Styled In Design after relocating from Seattle.
While Deschaine and Lumpkin will be in charge of bar and service, Doar will be in the closet-size kitchen putting together a variety of seasonal snack plates. The trained chef who spent a year traveling and studying in Italy, says the kitchen is equipped with an induction burner and no hood, so plates will be simple and focus on cheese, salumi and snacks like popcorn and figs with burrata (when figs are in season, of course).
He predicts the rich Mac and Cheeses, plural because it uses all the cheeses, will be popular.
As a veteran of the cocktail scene, Deschaine says she’s happy to see another venue open. “I love that Charleston has become rich and diverse in cocktail options,” she says, pointing out that Doar Bros. is located near FIG, Charleston Grill, Peninsula Grill and The Spectator but still fills a niche in that part of town where there aren’t too many places to drop in for a $6 beer and a $3 nip (small shot) before or after dinner.
Doar Bros. will open on Monday and participate in the Prohibition Trail party event organized by Brad Buchanan at The Spectator on Wednesday. Deschaine says they’ll be serving a punch during the self-guided 1920s-themed bar crawl that includes Cane Rhum Bar and The Blind Tiger as well.