Skip to main content

Behind the Bar: Red’s Ice House on the Rocks with Kenny Puckett

Kenny Puckett has been slinging cocktails at Red's Ice House since 2014.Since 2014, Red’s Ice House bar manager Kenny Puckett has been slinging cocktails at the establishment that he fondly referred to as the “last blue collar beach bar on Shem Creek.”

Bartending has always been in his blood, said Puckett, who at 19 years old cut his teeth in food and beverage by bar-backing in a restaurant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Around 1990, when Puckett was 21, he moved to Hilton Head where he began working for the Crowley family, who at the time owned some 30 restaurants, including Red’s and Wild Wing Cafe.

Having bounced back and forth between Hilton Head and Charleston, as well as moving out West to snowboard in California and Colorado, Puckett came to realize that Charleston was truly his home. As the Crowley’s welcomed him back to bartend in the restaurant every time he returned, Puckett couldn’t imagine working anywhere else or for anyone else.

For someone who, as he said, wouldn’t be able to sit still long enough for a desk job, managing the bar at Red’s is a dream career. No two days are ever the same, said Puckett, who loves driving his boat across Charleston Harbor to Shem Creek to dock alongside the tavern, mixing drinks and talking with the regulars and tourists from all walks of life who he gets to meet. On Fridays from 3 p.m. to close, Puckett works what he calls the “treehouse shift” on the second floor of Red’s, overlooking the most stunning sunsets in Charleston.

Puckett takes pride in what he calls his top-notch staff of 22 bar crew, that rarely, if ever, sees any turnover, due to the laid-back, happy and enjoyable work environment upon which the team thrives. As with families, the Red’s squad weathers the literal and metaphorical storms of life together, rolling with the punches that the squalls or high tides throw at them. That includes the time this past winter when a king tide came rolling in and within half an hour flooded the entire restaurant through every door and drain. With the parking lot also under Shem Creek, seven employees’ cars were destroyed and Red’s had to close for the day.

Whether sloshing in rain boots or sporting sunglasses and a baseball cap, Puckett said that it’s difficult to choose a favorite among the selection of cocktails that Red’s offers. But if he had to decide, the margarita with a dash of Grand Marnier is his go-to for hot summer days. He graciously shared his secret recipe:


  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • .25 gran ma float
  • 1 oz fresh lime
  • 1 oz fresh orange juice
  • 1 oz triple sec or agave
  • Splash of water
  • Shake like hell
  • Drink

So, if you find yourself craving the best margarita on Shem Creek, along with some great company, you know where to go. Tell Kenny and the team that we sent you.


By Sarah Rose

Shem Creek Restaurants

Search This Site

Visit the website

About Shem Creek

Shem Creek offers waterfront activities, picturesque views of its marshes and the Charleston Harbor, a boardwalk, as well as a park and many restaurants. Dive in and read about this Mount Pleasant, SC gem and all of the yummy treats it has to offer.

Search This Site