Charleston does many things well and one of them is hide the city’s best dive bars just out of sight. Following in the footsteps of Burns Alley Tavern, Cutty’s in the city’s Elliotsborough neighborhood can be notoriously difficult to find for those unfamiliar with its tiny single-door, no-sign entrance on Bogard Street despite the bar’s Philip Street address. Opened in 2012, the idea of a dim dive bar is taken to its extreme here, a back room on the first floor of a two-story building with no windows and precious little interior lighting. The Charleston dive bar has been known as Cutty’s Notary Public in the past, a reflection of the side gig of the bar’s owner at that time.
The most compelling decorations within Cutty’s consist of handwritten signs affectionately referred to as “sassy” depicting all sort of dive bar wisdom. One particular favorite reads, “No, we don’t carry Michelob Ultra, check your dad’s Yeti cooler.” The sensibility of the space is well-taken from that sign and others like it that mix among handwritten doodles that have started to serve as a sort of wallpaper to the space. A small stage hosts the occasional live music set but more often a DJ set or comedy night. Previously a members-only club, keep an eye out for the doorbell that used to serve as the secret handshake of sorts to gain entrance.