Whiskey Business on Hilton Head Island

A new bar attached to Charbar exudes a speakeasy lounge vibe.

Story by Amy Coyne Bredseon + Photography by Rob Kaufman

Have you ever wanted to swing dance your way back to The Roaring Twenties? Now you can, and you don’t even need a time machine to get there.

Travel no farther than Park Plaza, located just outside of Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. Masked behind a camouflaged bookcase door inside of Charbar sits a whiskey bar reminiscent of a Prohibition-era speakeasy.

The popular island restaurant is known for its gourmet burgers, live entertainment and fun, lighthearted atmosphere.

In contrast, Charbar’s new Whiskey Room is a mysterious, intimate lounge with warm, muted lighting, eclectic dark leather furniture, distressed brick walls and vintage mirrors. Oversized antique frosted glass lighting arrangements hang from the copper drop ceiling, and bottles of liquor are displayed in an artful fashion.

“As an extension of Charbar, the menu of smoked and charred flavors have a natural affinity for all things bourbon and whiskey,” Charbar founder and CEO Nick Bergelt said.

But more importantly, Bergelt said, Whiskey Room is a result of feedback he has received from local customers for years.

“Ultimately, the whiskey room delivers a rustic speakeasy lounge vibe that pays homage to the earlier days of Park Plaza that saw similar lounge concepts packed to the brim during the glory days of the iconic entertainment district for after-dinner drinks and entertainment,” Bergelt said.

Whiskey Room will serve more than 100 whiskeys and bourbons, and will offer jazz music with a modern twist. Local musicians, such as Dave Masteller of Jazz Corner and the Swampfire Records stable of artists, will entertain guests with their own riffs on modern tunes.

“It will be exciting to see new collaborations take shape with those artists as we aim to deliver a unique genre of music that doesn’t exist yet on the island,” Bergelt said.

Bergelt said a lot has changed at Charbar over the past six years. What has remained, he said, is his focus on “cultivating a best-of-breed team that maintains a narrow niche focus on what we do best, and ensuring we continue to innovate year over year, and challenge ourselves to continue to push the limits on creating the best burgers that exist.”

Born and raised on Hilton Head, Bergelt began working at local restaurants at the age of 14, moving his way through the various components of the hospitality business until he left for college at 17. He double-majored in entrepreneurship and marketing with a minor in hospitality management at the University of South Carolina. Immediately after graduation, Bergelt opened his first restaurant in Charleston and later founded HHI Hospitality, which consists of Charbar, Holy Tequila and Healthy Habit.

“We hope that the (Whiskey Room) concept will elicit a feeling of stepping back in time,” Bergelt said, “so our guests experience the essence of a Prohibition-era environment that will feel private and personal in all the right ways, and provide a late night destination for those seeking an upscale casual lounge scene, with a corresponding craft cocktail program and nightly entertainment.”

What’s Your Poison?

A few libations available in Charbar’s new Whiskey Room.

  • Blackberry Bourbon Smash Virgil Kaine Bourbon with fresh muddled blackberries, mint, lemons, honey, peach and soda
  • The In Fashion Virgil Kaine Bourbon, Grand Marnier, Black Walnut Bitters, orange zest ice sphere
  • Lowcountry Cooler Virgil Kaine Rye, maple, lemon juice and mint
  • Virgil’s Carolina Mule Virgil Kaine Ginger, ginger beer, fresh lime juice
  • Wheated Whiskey Flight Larceny, Maker’s Mark, Weller’s
  • Mashbill Bourbon Flight Basil Hayden, Four Roses, Elijah Craig
  • Rye Whiskey Flight Bulleit, Knob Creek, Virgil Kaine