Cold-brewed contraptions lead to clever cocktails at 1Kept, a bar and restaurant located within the Renaissance Hotel on Wentworth Street in downtown Charleston. Pay attention as you sit at the bar, and you'll see a collection of wooden apparatuses that look like something Igor would use for storing brains in his laboratory. At 1Kept, they use them to infuse spirits with ingredients such as butternut squash, Earl Gray tea, ginger and Meyer lemons.
The bar menu explains that the slow drip method, traditionally used for coffee, intensifies the flavors in the spirits. Of the four cocktails made using this method, I went straight for the most perplexing: Squashed It!, made with Bombay Dry Gin, turmeric, butternut squash, lime and Coconut Rumhaven, a rum that's made with coconut water. The bright yellow cocktail came in a coupe glass with a small branch of rosemary. Even though it was the color of a Jolly Rancher, the taste was herbal and savory with just a hint of sweetness.
The 1Kept G&T also is cold-brewed with a floral and citrusy combination of Bombay Sapphire East Gin, lemongrass, chrysanthemum, grapefruit, housemade tonic and soda. A lovely rendition of the classic gin and tonic that goes down a little too easy.
General manager Michael Brown eagerly told us about the Sunday brunch cocktail that was cold-brewing right next to us at the bar: Aperol and Meyer lemons, which is served with Cannonborough Honey-Basil soda. Apparently, they offer rosé all day on Sundays along with an interactive Aperol spritzer station.
That sounds fun, but not quite as fun as the dessert drink Augustus Gloop, named after that chubby brat who gets sucked up the chocolate pipe and dumped into the fudge room in Willy Wonka. It sounds like those cold-brew machines have their work cut out for them with this one. It's made with vodka, Amaro, creme de cacao and a stout reduction — like something Willy Wonka dreamed up himself.
1Kept is at 68 Wentworth St. The bar opens at 5:30 p.m. every day and closes by 10 p.m. (9 p.m. on Sundays).
— Stephanie Barna