Exploring a new place can be thirsty work. At some point after all that driving, walking, hiking, shopping, and eating, you might just want to sit down to a cold beer, crisp glass of wine, or (depending on how long your day has been), a nice strong cocktail. As I trekked back and forth across the Old 96 district I found myself consistently impressed with the variety and quality of the drinks on offer, even in some of the smaller towns! Being the generous traveler I am, I thought I’d give a highlight of some of the best tipples I tossed back, from Abbeville to Laurens and everywhere in between.
This was my first stop on my tour of the Old 96 District, and after a few hours in the car I was ready for a beer! Luckily Break on the Lake, right there on Lake Greenwood, had me covered with an extensive tap and bottle list. A crisp local IPA paired great with my burger and hushpuppies, and was made even better by the view of the lake and the breeze coming off the water. I stuck to one since I was driving, but I could have sat there all day.
One of my favorite things to do when traveling is check out the local brewery scene. Breweries and brewpubs often serve as de facto community centers, and I get to meet all kinds of great people while sipping on some local beer. Sled Dawg, just a quick stroll off Main Street in downtown Greenwood, is just that kind of spot. I got a flight of four beers – all delicious, but the White Dawg IPA really stood out to me. Have some non-beer folks in your crowd? Never fear, Sled Dawg has a large offering of ciders, boozy seltzers, and wine.
I really loved everything about Rootimentary, from the renovated interior of the historic Swofford Building on Laurens’s main square, to the elevated Southern cuisine that Chef Jacob Satterfield and his team pump out of the open kitchen. Another thing I loved? The innovative cocktails, many with a focus on whiskey and bourbon. The list changes throughout the year (more of a reason to go back multiple times!), but if it’s available try The Noblest of Fruits. It’s made with Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel and Laird’s Applejack.
If I had to invent my dream bar it would have lots of great wine and be filled with plants. Luckily I don’t have to invent that bar, because Kyle Fuller did it for me when he opened Divine Your Space in downtown Abbeville. Situated inside a restored service station is part home decor shop, part plant shop, and yes, part wine bar! Plants and decor out front, wine (including wine slushies!) in the back. There’s a wine club you can join if you like, or you can do what I did – order a glass of wine to sip on while you stroll around the shop. If you end up leaving with another bottle of wine to take back to your room plus three houseplants as souvenirs of your trip, well, don’t blame me.
I’m a big fan of Cuban food, in fact for my 18th birthday when most of my friends were getting cars or cash, I asked for and received a trip to Havana. It was my first solo trip and I spent a week reveling in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Old Havana. Don’t tell my parents, but it was where I had my first Cuba Libra and my first Mojito. You don’t have to travel all the way to Cuba to get your Cuban cocktail fix though, because Buenavista Latin Cafe in Greenwood has got you covered. I had both a Cuba Libre and a Mojito with my lunch, and when the drinks met the delicious food, with Latin music pumping from the speakers in the background, I could close my eyes and be transported back to my Havana holiday.