Cheese. Meats. Wine. Pickled okra. Pickled everything. Pork rinds. Bourbon. Salted chocolate tarts. An Airstream converted into a veritable humidor on wheels. Sound like any party you've been to recently?
Last night's grand opening of Mercantile and Mash, a gourmet food hall and bar from the Indigo Road restaurant group, offered attendees a sneak peek at the space (all 7,500 square feet of it), more free food than was probably polite to eat (not sorry), and a taste of speciality cocktails whose names are soon to be as ubiquitous as the words "Merc" and "Mash" out of the mouths of locals. Oh, and there was a charcuterie board the size of a community table.
When we arrive we are immediately torn between sipping the welcome punch—a blend of bourbon and something delicious topped with prosecco—or heading upstairs to The Cedar Room for seafood, barbecue, and bourbon tastings, or hitting Mercantile for wine and cheeses, or testing out the signature Old Fashioned in Mash. It's a sensory overload that only a stop at each will satisfy.
A welcome station offered a punch and a nonalcoholic beverage
Mercantile is the name of the gourmet food retail space where patrons can stop in to grab a coffee, a sandwich, a jar of pickled veg, or the makings of cheese plate. The high top wood tables and industrial light fixtures give the space the feel of the gourmet food halls found in New York, LA, and DC, only on a slightly smaller scale suited for Charleston.
Guests were given small paper boats to fill with meats, cheeses, nuts, pickled veggies, and olives
A low, square-shaped bar at the center of Mercantile offers guests additional seating
Behind Mercantile, connected by a hallway, is Mash—a dark, leather-clad beauty with a full bocce court and tables laden with bowls of pork rinds. Here bartenders offer a choice between the Mash Old Fashioned—staff selected 4 Roses single barrel bourbon, gum syrup, Angostura grapefruit bitters, and citrus zest—or the La Ville Rose—Cathead vodka, watermelon, mint, lime, tarragon, and lemon coconut oil. Both drinks are on the regular cocktail menu, along with a rum drink called Surfer On Acid which I'll definitely have to go back to try.
Heading outside and up the tall set of stairs to The Cedar Room, I stop short at the doorway, attempting to take in the sheer size of the room. I'm also distracted by the wine table.
Virgil Kaine set up a bourbon tasting in one corner of The Cedar Room
The exposed brick walls, incredibly tall ceilings, and near floor to ceiling windows give the space an open, airy feel. It's industrial, but also elegant. Around the room, high top tables offer attendees a place to set their drinks—a bar in one corner is serving up a tart Gin Collins—while they get down on Southern grub like barbecue sandwiches, mac and cheese, and potato salad. A seafood station in the middle of the room offers scallop ceviche, shrimp, mussels, and clams. A handful of musicians have set up their instruments on a small stage, entertaining guests throughout the evening. Indigo Road has spared no expense, and no one can shut up about how amazing the result is.
The event ends at 8:30 but we're not quite ready to leave, so we head back down to Mercantile. We've decided it's our favorite spot of the night—though that could just be due to the monstrous meat and cheese offering. Unknowingly we've arrived just in time for dessert. Miniature ice cream cones make their way around the room in Le Creuset casserole dishes filled with chocolate pearls. Salted chocolate tarts filled with caramel are passed our way. The wine stations are still pouring. Pumpkin cupcakes appear.
We leave only when we're stupid full and only because we know we'll surely be back.
A shout out to the team at The Reynolds Group for putting on such an amazing event!