Opal tries to lure early bird eaters

The cheapest entree on Opal's menu, a roasted chicken breast with fried potatoes and caramelized Brussels sprouts, costs $24. So it's notable that the Mount Pleasant restaurant is now offering a three-course meal for the same price every night before 6:30 p.m.

Guests who consent to dine early can have their pick of appetizer, pasta and dessert for the discounted price. Although the chicken and other entrees aren't included in the deal, if patrons choose wisely, they can score significant savings: Steamed clams and tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, for example, usually sell for $31.

The $24 early bird special is available 5-6:30 p.m. nightly. Opal, 1960 Riviera Drive, is closed Sundays.

For more information, call 654-9070 or go to owensdininggroup.com.

White Duck Taco Shop opens this month

There's now a white duck painted on the exterior wall of the building at 792 Folly Road, signaling that the forthcoming taco joint housed within is on the cusp of opening.

"Right now, we're shooting for late June," says Andrew Pannell, White Duck Taco Shop's first franchisee, quoting a June 23 forecast. "I'm cautiously optimistic."

The first White Duck Taco Shop opened three years ago in Asheville's River Arts District, promising "the freshest, most awesomest creative food every day." Owners Ben Mixson and Laura Reuss recently opened a second location in downtown Asheville, leapfrogging the James Island store long in the works.

Pannell and Mixson were classmates at the College of Charleston. Pannell previously worked as a wine buyer, but a "really enjoyable" meal at White Duck and a "fortuitous meeting" with Mixson led to the franchising plan.

According to Pannell, the James Island location will serve the same menu as the original White Duck, where available taco fillings have included lump crab, lamb gyro, mushroom potato and Thai peanut chicken. ("The menu is subject to change, sometimes daily," the restaurant's website explains.) Although tacos make up the bulk of the menu, there are also side dishes, soups and dessert.

While the James Island restaurant will serve beer and wine, Pannell stresses, "We're not a bar. We're not tailoring that to the Charleston crowd." But in deference to the beachy location, Pannell is considering adding a mojito to the standard White Duck drinks list.

Although White Duck hasn't yet settled on hours, Pannell predicts they'll mirror the Asheville schedule of 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

"I just want people to know we're a fast, good, affordable option for James Island," he says.

Lowcountry bars host World Cup parties

Residents of Brazil may be vocally opposed to the nation hosting the World Cup amid austerity measures, but the championships' location is a boon to U.S. bars and restaurants, which can screen the games in prime time.

"Thankfully, this World Cup is in the same time zone," says Daniel Brock of My Father's Moustache.

In 2010, the World Cup was held in South Africa, which is six hours ahead of Charleston.

To celebrate the Cup, My Father's Moustache is offering a slate of specials and promotions.

Other local celebrations include viewing parties at The Alley, which is affiliating with the Charleston Battery for the championships.

The World Cup runs through July 13. My Father's Moustache is at 1045 Ben Sawyer Blvd. To learn more, call 884-2425 or go to myfathersmoustache.com.

Colonials flipped out over sound of drink

Most vacations are centered on sights: A pristine coastline, a crumbling cathedral, a gaping canyon or a galloping giraffe. But as Trevor Cox points out in his new book, it's equally rewarding to organize travel around sounds.

"I began to think about where I would go if you wanted listen to the most remarkable sounds in the world, and I was surprised to find there was relatively little information," the British acoustic engineer told CNN.

Cox, author of "The Sounds Book," keeps a user-generated map of aural destinations on his website. None of them pertain to food or drink; the highly specific suggestions skirt over the common diner concerto of eggs sizzling on a grill and the rhythms of a pitmaster's cleaver.

But at the recent Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, cocktail writer Wayne Curtis suggested at least one sound that would have been deserving of a mention - if the list was compiled a few centuries ago.

In a session devoted to Colonial drinking, Curtis and fellow drinks historian David Wondrich outlined early Americans' penchant for imbibing anything alcoholic. Although the British were the lone Europeans to historically shun distilled spirits (the scene changed after the accession of William of Orange opened the gin gates), Colonists happily consumed rum.

Much of it was in the form of punch. "The pirates didn't go about swigging alcohol from the bottle," Wondrich, author of "Punch: the Delights (And Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl," said. "That's pathetic. They had punch."

One bowl-based rum drink popular in Colonial New England was the flip, featuring a mix of rum, molasses, beer and spices. It was warmed with a red-hot loggerhead (the phrase "at loggerheads" derives from the very scary prospect of two tavern keepers wielding the pokers like swords), a bit of theater that has lately been resurrected by bartenders in Washington, D.C.

The plunging of the loggerhead served to invert, or flip, the sugar. But it also created a signature sound, which was as enticing to 18th-century drinkers as the sound of ice in a shaker today. As Curtis prepared a flip for his audience, he urged its members to listen to what contemporary writers admirably referred to as "the hissing dip of a flip." Sounds like a reason to plan a trip, if only to a D.C. saloon.