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At Columbia’s War Mouth, the focus is on cocktails

War Mouth drinks include, from left, The Daily, War Mouth Michelada and the Shrub Club.
War Mouth drinks include, from left, The Daily, War Mouth Michelada and the Shrub Club. dsellers@thestate.com

In just a few short months, War Mouth restaurant has earned a glowing reputation around town.

Located on North Main Street in the Cottontown area, the design of the renovated auto body shop is open and industrial, with high ceilings and exposed pipes. The bar itself carves out a section of the far corner as you walk in.

Communal seating and smaller private tables make up a roomy dining area. During optimal weather, the bay door is opened to give the dining room an al fresco feel. A dog-friendly, fenced-in backyard with picnic tables adds to seating options.

Palmer Ray, a bartender who’s been at the location since it opened, said not only is the restaurant side busy, but the bar is as well.

“We keep the focus on cocktails, but we have a well-curated beer list, a rotating set of drafts, and a solid collection of bottles and cans,” Ray said. “In any given week, two or three things will get replaced with something new.”

The current selection of cocktails is the second full revamp of War Mouth’s drink menu. A few of the drinks you can order include:

▪ Backsliding Southern Baptist, with bourbon, Campari, lime and Blenheim’s.

▪ Snake Juice, with Indah iced coffee, rum, “other stuff” and optional cream.

▪ Little Merman, with Mezcal, Strega, yellow chartreuse and lemon.

▪ Bee’s Knees, with gin, lemon and honeysuckle syrup.

“Everything we have is original creations,” Ray said. Of the 11 drinks, he said the Shrub Club is the most popular.

“Shrubs are vinegar-based syrups, and we make small batches of different flavors,” Ray said. “There’s a template for how we make the drink, but different elements can be swapped out. We’ve been having a lot of fun with them.”

The War Mouth Michelada is a newer addition, but when it bears the bar’s namesake, you expect it to be exceptional. Made with tequila, Michelada and Modelo Especcial, Ray describes it as a “beer bloody mary.”

Through a partnership with local coffee roaster Indah Coffee, The Daily is one of the more popular after-dinner drinks made with the brew. Mixing Maker’s Mark, Indah iced coffee, lime and tonic, it’s a refreshing pairing with dessert.

So how does all this tie back to the bar’s namesake, the sunfish it’s named for?

“It’s a fish that’s supposed to have a bigger fight than it has a mouth,” said Ray, noting the three-spined fish with actual teeth on its tongue. “It is a fierce, tiny little fish. So why is our restaurant’s logo a hog’s head? And the answer is, because it looks cool.”

Can’t argue with that.

War Mouth

WHEN: Tuesday-Saturday; lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., dinner 5-10 p.m.

WHERE: 1209 Franklin St.

WORTH NOTING: No happy hour, but the bar stays open between lunch and dinner, 2:30-5 p.m.

INFO: (803) 569-6144, www.thewarmouth.com