1022 South is a specialty cocktail lounge in the Hilltop area of Tacoma. Lit with flickering candles, stocked with an eclectic collection of books from apothecary to literature, and buzzing with a hum of lively conversation, 1022 is the place to be. Since March of 2009, this bar has built up a reputation as a local favorite. Chris Keil, owner and bartender, is serious about the art of cocktails, and the menu reflects that by featuring fresh, local, and unusual ingredients. In addition, all of their mixers are made in-house.
The old-school apothecary feel is enhanced by the sophisticated ambience of the bar, complete with books on bartending and shelves full of countless bottles, beakers, tinctures, jars, and vials full of mysterious liquids, gelatinous substances, fruits, and herbs. But even more apothecarianare the drinks themselves, handmade by Keil and the other bartenders.
1022 features botanical infusions; house-made bitters; flowers like lavender, jasmine, and saffron; and medicinal herbs like horny goat weed, tulsi, and jiaogulan. Keil became inspired to pursue the apothecary theme when he was first introduced to Antoine Peychaud’s Bitters, a New Orleans cocktail. In fact, it is still his favorite today; he says his last drink, if he were getting the chair tomorrow, would be the Sazerac (rye, Peychaud’s Bitters, absinthe). Also fueling the apothecary theme, says Keil, are the many parallels between herbal liqueurs and herbal, Chinese, and natural medicines. The herbs really don’t go unnoticed; Keil definitely works botanicals into drinks like La Gatina (sotol, sherry, honey infused with pestled lavender and chamomile, allspice dram, and house-made “Hellfire” tincture) and the White Vulture (jasmine pearl infused white wine with house-made lemongrass ginger soda).
Keil says his inspiration to create these unique cocktails comes from “everything”…food, interesting flavors. Many of his drinks draw from The Golden Age of Cocktails, from 1900, when bartenders began to experiment, until 1920, when Prohibition forced them into speakeasies. The “architecture of the drink recipes,” says Keil, “dates back to a hundred years ago,” sometimes more. In the past decade or so, there has been a resurgence of cocktails, a renaissance in which people are looking for a casual neighborhood bar to kick back with a high quality drink.
Keil says he spends a lot of time “to hunt down obscure ingredients.” The bartenders are all trained in the art, consciously taking the time to make quality products. And, as a result, their drinks are well-loved, as the bar is often packed with hipsters, couples, academics, pre-gamers, and everyone in-between. The Lavender Cocktail (vodka, lavender, lemon, coconut), 1022 Old Fashioned (bourbon, orange oil, saffron and cardamom bitters), and Hilltop New Yorker (whiskey, lemon, red wine rhubarb bitters) are particularly popular, says Keil. Probably the most unique element that shows off the apothecary’s flair is the Apothecary Cup, which the menu says “Bartender’s Choice. Bonne chance…” Keil hand-crafts a unique drink based on that person’s specific preferences.
Since this past spring, 1022 South has also expanded their food menu to include snacks and small plates, large plates, salads, panini, sandwiches, and delicious desserts from Corina Bakery. Happy hour is 4–8pm every day, featuring certain cocktails for $5, $3 wells, $3 draft beers, and $4 glasses of wine. 1022 South is located on South J Street, between South 10th and 11th Avenue. Stop in for a delicious, hand-crafted quality cocktail and a magical apothecary experience!