10. Rocket Surgery – Travelers Rest, South Carolina
Andy O’Mara moved to Travelers Rest planning to relocate his custom-canoe factory. Instead, he and his partner, Loren Frant, opened a pizza place and, last year, this friendly little bar. The first-time restaurateurs have made this small town in the Blue Ridge foothills a dining destination, and Rocket Surgery the unofficial cocktail capital of upstate South Carolina. Andy’s cousin Casey mans the bar, convincing locals to break away from the regular bourbon-and-beer rut with drinks like the Gabrielle, a gin-based ode to spring with gentian and elderflower liqueurs and honey. Or Brown Derby—made with bourbon, grapefruit, and honey.
PRE-DRINK FUN: If you’re in nearby Greenville, grab a bike and hop on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a biking path converted from an abandoned railway. It’s an easy 10 miles on rolling hills from downtown to the front door of Rocket Surgery.
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