The Dead Rabbit, a celebrated multi-bar concept under one roof in New York City, is expanding its brand with a sister upscale Irish pub and indoor/outdoor cocktail bar called Hazel and Apple on King Street in early 2023.
The Charleston sister location will be the first of a rapid Southern expansion by the Dead Rabbit founders; other sister locations are planned for New Orleans and Austin after the Charleston location opens. The Dead Rabbit first opened in 2013 and was twice named the World’s Best Bar.
Sean Muldoon, of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is partnering with Jillian Vose, the founding beverage director at The Dead Rabbit, as co-owners of Hazel and Apple. The location will be at 549 King St., next to the bar Prohibition, whose owner, James Walsh, is also from Belfast and longtime friends with Muldoon. Walsh suggested the idea to bring The Dead Rabbit sister Irish pub concept to that location, Muldoon said.
Hazel and Apple will operate in two separate spaces: Hazel in the front and Apple in the back. Hazel will have The Dead Rabbit’s signature Irish upscale diner vibe, with leather banquettes and plenty of Guinness, Irish coffee and whiskey. Renderings on the bar’s Instagram page show dark wood and green tones. Apple will be a bright, colorful upscale indoor/outdoor bar with creative cocktails, Muldoon said.
“The plan is to have a back patio (at Apple) that holds about 80 people,” Muldoon said. “We’ve designed a bar that we think really fits in Charleston.”
The food will reference Charleston but with an Irish and United Kingdom twist, Muldoon said. “It will be what people are eating down here already but our version of it — Irish and U.K. specialties that we’re known for in New York,” he said. “I would say seafood would play an important part of it as well. We’re getting a chef that knows how to put all of it together. “
The Dead Rabbit’s New York menu of Irish classics such as a scotch egg, sausage roll and corned beef sliders. The Dead Rabbit’s mission is to “celebrate the pubs of home, the golden age of American cocktails, and the modern Irish maker,” according to its website.
The name Hazel and Apple is inspired by a poem by Irish author William Butler Yeats called The Song of Wandering Aengus. “Hazel in Ireland represents wisdom and maturity, and apple represents youthfulness and vigor,” Muldoon said. “Jillian, the beverage director and co-owner, represents the apple and I represent the hazelwood. (The name) is meant to represent two personalities, but also pairs reference to the Yeats poem.”
Muldoon said the bar is currently in the permitting process. He hopes to begin construction later this year. “We have all the plans and the ideas. Once we got all the approvals — and the permit part could take a couple months — we hope to start construction, I would say by the end of summer or September,” Muldoon said.
The location is operating in the interim as a Caribbean-style bar called Bonnie’s, run by the team at Prohibition, Muldoon said. “It’s just there until such time as we need to close and start building out our bar,” he said.
Years of visiting Charleston motivated Muldoon to open the Holy City location.
“My wife and I were tired of the frantic piece of New York, and we just want to slow down a little bit and really enjoy what we’re doing,” Muldoon said. “I’ve traveled all over, and Charleston checks a lot of boxes for me. It’s laid-back. Every time I’m there, it feels good. I feel lighter when I walk through the streets. We’re all looking forward to moving down and blending in with the other bars and restaurants and doing our thing.”