The Gin Joint opened its doors five years ago this month. It’s been an amazing five years, and celebrations are in order! In honor of one half of a decade of serving proper cocktails, we’re throwing back the menu and offering you our most ordered cocktails and provisions returning from our very first menu – starting Tuesday, August 25 and running throughout the week. We’ve included a list of our original cocktails and offerings at the end of our post, but first — we wanted to let you in on a few fun facts about our opening night and the first five years of our existence.
Did you know…
The space has been in the family. Before The Gin Joint opened its doors, the space housed Robert’s of Charleston, a Charleston institution for fine dining owned and operated by Robert Dickson, who is The Gin Joint owner MariElena Raya’s father. MariElena grew up in the restaurant, working her way up from dishwasher to Executive Chef. When her father, Robert, retired and closed the restaurant, she and her husband Joe knew they would take over the space — Enter, The Gin Joint.
The Gin Joint’s soft opening was Thursday, August 17, 2010. A week later, 5 years ago to date, we were in full swing serving pre-prohibition era cocktails and sophisticated bar snacks. Much to our delight, we were simply too busy that an official grand opening celebration couldn’t be planned.
Just minutes before we opened the doors, our staff had paintbrushes in hand finishing The Gin Joint sign you now see flanking the East Bay St. courtyard. We hung the sign while it was still wet. Thank goodness for a clear forecast on opening day!
Our very first bartender was Mick Matricciano. Name sound familiar? Mick and two of his friends now own Cannonborough Beverage Co., the Charleston soda company.
In five years, we have used at least 156,000 lbs. of hand cut ice in cocktails. The perfectly cut, crystal clear ice you find in glass is hand cut with a chain saw from 300 lb. blocks of purified ice frozen in a Clinebell freezer.
We haven’t missed a single day of making pretzels since we’ve opened. That’s 1800 days of hand rolling our house pretzels.
The Gin Joint menu was determined by space limitations. Without space a deep fryer in the kitchen and extensive space to prepare entire plates and meals, the menu was developed with those elements in mind, making a fun, sophisticated collection of bar snacks that were made in house daily.
Ringleaders Joe and MariElena Raya have had quite the journey! Since opening The Gin Joint in 2010, they’ve expanded their cocktail-making adventures to include two lines of products based on the same premise as The Gin Joint, bringing great cocktails to people. The first, Bittermilk, a line of “just add booze” craft cocktail mixers based off of classic cocktails, launched in 2013. The second line, Tippleman’s, is a line of bar syrups created for bartenders to easily introduce more complex flavors into cocktails, which was introduced just this year. You’ll find both lines of products sold here.
Chef Kayla Bennett was part of the small opening crew. Kayla started her career with ringleaders Joe and MariElena Raya at Robert’s before The Gin Joint opened, was one of the few original Gin Joint employees and is now chef and managing the kitchen, bringing you the pickled shrimp, pretzels and ah—ma-zing desserts you love.
You’ll still find original staples on the menu. House Soft Pretzels, Pad Thai Popcorn, Gin Joint Beef Jerky*, and the Salted Caramel Chocolate Bar. (* Others have followed suit with the beef jerky. You’ll even find Gin Joint style beef jerky on Edmund’s Oast’s menu.)
COGNAC AND SNAP [Ansac Cognac, Lemon, Sugar, Claret]
THE IMPROVED COCKTAIL [Rittenhouse Rye, Maraschino, Absinthe, Demerara, Angostura Bitters]
POQUITO PICANTE [Gin, Cilantro, Cucumber, Lime, Cointreau, Habanero)
FINGERLING POTATO SKINS [Aged Cheddar, Bacon, Sour Cream]
SPICY MERGUEZ SAUSAGE [Seared Polenta, Caramelized Bussels]
HEN IN A POT [Chicken Confiet, Mirepoix, Dumplings, Sweet Corn Velouté]
(We will still offer the full menu during our throwback week as well. Click here to view the menu.)