The door to the Tavern at Rainbow Row
America's Oldest Liquor Store Has Been Selling Booze Since 1686
Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the Tavern at Rainbow Row catered to locals during Prohibition. Founded in 1686, the establishment has encountered many characters.
Documents found in The Netherlands and Scotland reveal the business has been known by many names and has been both a tavern and retailer, but not always at the same time.
From 1903 until the start of Prohibition, the business operated as a whiskey store. To conceal its illicit operation, the owners disguised the business as a regular barbershop.
Illegal entrepreneurs made deliveries through a door into a back room where a trapdoor led to tunnels. After the ban was repealed, the liquor store reopened to the public.
It still operates as a liquor store and sells commonly known brands, as well as specialized commodities. It sells locally made moonshine and vodka made from seashore black rye.