August 2017

Twisted Cork Cocktail & Wine Bar: Uncommonly Tempting

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Celebrating the one-year anniversary of her convivial, cozy, gathering spot, Twisted Cork Cocktail & Wine Bar, owner Melissa Roy clearly has hospitality in her DNA. “It never occurred to me that this isn’t what I was supposed to do,” she said. With over a decade of Hilton Head Island restaurant experience, tending bar, waiting tables, and managing, she knew the time was right to open her own place when the wine bar located in the Island Crossing shopping center on the island’s south end came up for sale. “Sometimes people say to me, ‘I’m so proud of you, you have so much courage to do this.’ Courage never occurred to me.”

A year later, snuggled into her comfort zone, Roy is parlaying her experience and penchant for giving patrons just what they need into a loyal following of locals and visiting guests. Whether a frequent fan or first-timer, customers quickly realize that everyone at Twisted Cork becomes a friend, and she may not always remember everyone’s name, but Roy rarely forgets their beverage of choice, their preferred menu item, or their favorite spot to sit.

A nearly one-woman-operation, she knew she was in for a lot of work. “It has taken over my life, but in a good way,” Roy said. There’s an adage in the restaurant business that success hinges on the owner being there—a lot—and Roy is living it. “I feel people are in my corner and pushing for me to succeed. That makes it better when I’m tired. They all came and had fun, and they’re going to come back. I don’t want to let them down.”

Roy’s vision for Twisted Cork has been realized with the addition of a stellar cocktail menu, creating a food menu geared toward her own proclivity for shared plates, and tweaking the décor to give the space the same breath of life she brings with her own welcoming personality. And by the way, Roy was voted Bartender of the Year in 2015 and 2016—an accolade she greatly appreciates because she said she did not have time to campaign for the honor. “I didn’t realize I was even nominated for Bartender of the Year, so I didn’t ask any family or friends to vote for me,” she said, with a bit of a self-deprecating grin.

The rustic interior of the Twisted Cork

The Twisted Cork décor has a rustic, upscale elegance, with warm brick and reclaimed wood throughout, metal accents, and lighting that enhances their signature coziness. “I want people to come in and feel like they’re in their living room,” Roy said. She brings in music on Friday nights with the occasional open-mic night. Monday night trivia has become the most popular night of the week. Roy’s friend, local bartender, and trivia guru/entertainer, Matty Bussmann, brings his interactive trivia to Twisted Cork. A fan of the History Channel and the Biography Channel, Bussmann writes his own questions. “There’s always a twist,” Roy said. Twisted Cork also has a private space, suitable for 20 seated guests, and where Roy hosts wine tastings. “It’s a great space to reserve for showers, book clubs, birthdays, wedding receptions.”

Melissa Roy celebrates one year

If the Twisted Cork vibe invites you in, it is the menu that will entice to you stay a while. Family favorites anchor the sharable food selections. Mom’s Buffalo Dip, (yes, her mom) made with gooey cheese, spices, and chicken, served with tortilla chips and pretzels, is awesome, Roy said. The Baked Goat Cheese, Bruschetta, and Rustic Antipasta are only the beginning. Even the requisite Artisan Cheese Plate has a Twisted touch; praline pecans, apples, and local honey and preserves, put this one over-the-top. Cheebo Flatbread is her brother’s favorite Twisted pizza combination (think BBQ). “The Flatbreads are amazing,” Roy said. “Thin, crispy, and not too heavy.” The Twisted salad selections are refreshing and, with the addition of chicken, become a filling meal.

The cocktail menu is the result of Roy’s creativity. “I had fun making these up,” she said. “I love using St.-Germain. I love using Aperol. I’m working on expanding our bourbon selection with some fun, different bourbons.” Ingredients like lavender, coconut, chocolate, herbs, ginger, berries, and fruit juices, are scattered across the cocktail menu, and provide tantalizing options. Roy has also chosen a well-appointed selection of craft and local beer by the bottle or can, including Baltika, a Russian beer made popular by long-time patrons of the bar.

A Charcuterie plate served with wine
The Beet and Goat Cheese salad

Designated Blondes or Red Heads on the Twisted Cork menu, the wine list is a careful selection of imported and domestic wines sold by the bottle and by the glass. “I am not a sommelier,” Roy said. “I am a wine drinker and enthusiast.” Which is part of what makes the Twisted Cork wine menu so much fun, with the enjoyment of the bottle being the primary goal. “We also do flights, which is really neat. You pick any three wines we offer by the glass. You get a two-ounce pour of each. It gives you the chance to try different things.”

Roy finds herself at Twisted Cork nearly every morning with her rescue Catahoula Hound Daisy at her side, taking deliveries, doing the work of setting the day in motion, and preparing to share a welcoming, delicious experience with each customer. “It’s been kind of a whirlwind year,” she said. Planning an anniversary celebration in the month of August, Roy intends to continue evolving and bringing her special brand of hospitality to Twisted Cork.

After all, it’s in her DNA.

Twisted Cork Cocktail & Wine Bar is located at 11 Palmetto Bay Road, Hilton Head Island (next to Staples) and is open Monday-Saturday, 5 p.m. until. Happy Hour is daily, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., with half-off all bottles of wine, half-off well liquor, $2 domestic and $3 import beers, and $2 off any Twisted Shareables. For more information, please call (843) 802-0510 or visit

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