“If your favorite drink is a cheap beer, then we’ll have the best one for you at a good price, but if the person next to you wants the fanciest new cocktail or just a really good Manhattan, then we’ll also have you covered.”
That’s how partners Stephen Phillips and Nick McSherry describe their new bar, EXILE, opening early summer at 9 Anderson St. in Greenville’s West End.
“I want it to be a bar where all my friends can come in, and they all have very different tastes,” Phillips says.
The mid-century modern, 2,400-square-foot former dental office is under construction and will be transformed into a relaxed bar environment where everyone should feel comfortable, regardless of cocktail knowledge or experience, and even those not drinking alcohol will have a variety of mocktails to choose from.
Phillips, who helped launch The Anchorage cocktail program and currently works at Birds Fly South Ale Project, and McSherry, also known for his time as manager at The Anchorage and Restaurant 17, have teamed up with financial investors and bar staff who share their vision.
Their goal is to take all the best elements of comfort from a dive bar and mix them will the classy elements of a brand-new cocktail bar. The décor, with vintage furniture and fixtures sourced through Shop.WHIM, will look as though the bar has existed for decades without the dingy wear-and-tear.
Phillips captures his vision this way: “A bar can be dark without being ‘sketchy.’ It can have the best glassware, lighting, and art without being pretentious and showing off. It is possible to have low lighting, old furniture, rock and roll, and gold rimmed coupe glasses in the same space.”
The name, EXILE, has a three-fold meaning. First, it comes from Phillips’s experience leaving his home in Wisconsin where he no longer had any ties and moving to Greenville.
“I grew to love the city and wanted to be a part of it instead of just, like, not fitting in or something, or really play a role in this incredibly fast-growing city that has a lot of people moving here that want to change its culture,” Phillips says. “Let’s be a part of it.”
Secondly, Phillips and his current staff have all experienced some resistance while trying to implement their vision in bars that weren’t their own. In EXILE, they’ve found a place to express themselves.
“Well, why if we’re all good at this, why can’t we get it to happen,” Phillips says of the joint thought process. “Well, we’ll just go exile ourselves on this little island and see what happens, and if we can just do together maybe we can do it.”
The core staff of four to five bartenders will be equally skilled in crafting cocktails and providing a high level of hospitality and will rotate serving on the floor and behind the bar.
Lastly, the location on the edge of the West End, with onsite parking, is just far enough removed from the main drag to be distinct.
“You can definitely walk there, but you’re not going to stumble in,” McSherry says.
The menu will feature roughly 15 classic cocktails and a dozen more specialty cocktails. Bar snacks and other hand-helds will be provided by chef Alex George of Golden Brown and Delicious. Quality of both drinks and food is a priority for the team.
“I want it to be normal to have organic food. I want it to be normal to get an affordable, really well-made Old Fashioned,” Phillips says. “It shouldn’t be a big deal to get a correctly made a classic drink.”