Where Life Pops

BY KELLY RAE SMITH

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King Street’s Republic Garden and Lounge is a sparkly new bar with a bold, big-city vibe. When it arrived on the scene last March, this velvet-trimmed landing pad answered the city’s call for fabulous libations and dishes fit for a foodie.

The cocktail lounge and social hub prides itself not only on high-end Champagne and spirits, but also on crafty cocktails. A Lyte Ray, for example, is a popular-with-the-ladies, low-calorie refreshment made with Voli Lyte vodka, St-Germain liqueur, lemon, cucumber and soda.

Bubbly cocktails come by the carafe, and Republic Garden and Lounge is the sole South Carolina bar to pour Krug by the glass. The 80-labels-strong wine list includes the newly popular French sparkling wine, the Luc Belaire Rare Rosé, as well as some truly fun-sized bottles. General manager Evan Powell says his six-liter Champagne bottles make a statement. “When we carry one out into the lounge, time stops.”

The food menu, executed by Chef Ben Harris, is reason enough to pop a cork. His popular confit chicken wings, among the city’s best, are grilled and fried, which makes them super crispy and fall-offthe- bone delicious. But there’re healthy options, too, like gourmet lettuce wraps (with shrimp, duck confit, roast chicken, fresh kim chi or ponzu) and two flavors of hummus.

The décor, the work of San Francisco firm Mister Important Design, features contemporary chandeliers and sleek sectional seating. Behind one bank of sofas looms a wall-size portrait-turned-curtain by English fashion photographer Miles Aldridge. Outside, there’s a spacious patio and covered bar.

Republic Garden and Lounge, located at 462 King Street, is open daily from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., with live music and DJs
nightly. Happy hour, Monday through Friday, features $5 top-shelf brands, $4 and $5 plates, and half-price bottles of wine under $200. Sunday brunch brings light cocktail and food offerings.