Big John’s Tavern is Charleston’s oldest tavern in one of America’s oldest towns. This rustic bar is full of history and has seen more than its fair share of lore that has grown over the years. If walls could talk there would be no shortage of stories. Some fact and some fiction, and some aged like a fine bourbon that gets better with time. Ask us about Big John Cannady, who played for the New York Giants from 1947-1954, before opening Big John's Tavern in 1955, in his hometown of Charleston, SC.
Big John's Tavern was founded by John "Big John" Cannady in 1955 after he retired from the NY Giants where he invented the outside linebacker position.
As for my story, I remember fondly the first drink I ever had in a bar. It was from the direction of my mentor and friend Tip Hargrove (citadel class of 1971) He sent me a $100 check and instructions. He said to take a couple of your classmates to Big Johns for a drink. Simple enough. I, at the time, was a cadet in The Citadel. I still remember the first time I walked in. Dark, paneled walls, flags, bumper stickers, bras on the ceiling, and Citadel name tags on the wall. It was full of character. Honestly, I had nothing to compare it to as it was my first bar experience. But it shaped me over the years. I visited it often until sadly a fire struck unexpectedly. For a short time, another bar entered the space but it did not last long and closed, as did many businesses during the government corona shut down. That is until when one of my citadel childhood friends, Christopher Houston, and I decided to bring our beloved watering hole back to life.
It is not as dark as it was but we tried to pay homage to our favorite bar. Found matching red tufted chairs, refinished the mahogany bar, and saved many of the name tags and even the original sign. It is admittedly not the same dark dive, but after much labor we have built it into something that respectfully marries the old with the new. We look forward to welcoming everyone that would like to have a drink with us while enjoying the history of the oldest tavern in Charleston.
The menu is a little different than before when it was Charleston's favorite dive. We have many creative cocktails such as a smoked old-fashioned and a great range of other hand-crafted cocktails, many made with local liquors and local fresh ingredients. An extensive local beer list. The food has also received a major upgrade which includes our signature clothesline bacon, complete with handmade clotheslines that my Dad and I made, and the best smash burger in town. A gastropub of sorts, we have many great options for all foodies out there. Many other homemade recipes passed down from my family and are now proudly shared with yours.
We invite you to come in a stranger, visit with us, drink and eat, and leave a friend!
- Scotty Sheriff