Old Exchange at the Watch

The Old Exchange goes perfectly with a Charleston sunset. Stephanie Barna/Staff

The perfect time to enjoy The Watch is at sunset, particularly during the colder months. If you do it right, you can watch the sky around the ornate steeple of the Grace Cathedral turn from seductive pink to orange over the bartender’s shoulder as he mixes you a cocktail.

The Watch is on the seventh floor of the Restoration Hotel on Wentworth Street in downtown Charleston, and it has plenty of places to sit, inside and out, to enjoy the view, whether that be the Ravenel bridge in the harbor or the steeples of the Holy City.

This time of year, the sky at dusk is gorgeous, and as the sky blazed, I ordered an Externship, a drink that tasted like a Cheerwine, made with tequila, sassafras, cherry brandy and a cabernet float. New bar manager Chelsea Nightengale, who most recently worked at Tavern on the Green in New York, says the cocktail menu is designed to use unique ingredients and evoke memories of childhood flavors.

The Old Exchange, which my friend ordered, proved to be a prettier drink to photograph and is the bar’s most popular. It also provides the cherry on top, literally, to the Externship drink. The drink is made with rye whiskey, angostura and orange, but the best part is the marinated cherry. Nightengale says they soak dried cherries in brandy and simple syrup and make good use of the cherries and the cherry brandy, which is used in the aforementioned Externship. We could have eaten a pile of those cherries, they were that good.

— Stephanie Barna

Follow Stephanie Barna on Twitter @stefbarna.