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The new 1022

Big changes on J street

A new menu, new team and look brings 1022 South back into the limelight. /Jackie Fender

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Just a few short weeks after celebrating its 4th birthday, 1022 South shook craft cocktail lovers to the core with the news that there was going to be some big transformations ahead. With the departure of owner and cocktail connoisseur extraordinaire Chris Keil, what could the public anticipate, after all? Surely it could not match the former glory that has gained the intimate space national recognition.

A sign went up in the door that stated "Closed for Spring Cleaning" and stayed up for six long weeks. During those weeks some big changes occurred.

First, Bar Manager Rose Peterson and Chef Riley Morgan, both former employees of grub pub locale Dirty Oscar's Annex, stepped in and manufactured wholly new menus of libations and nibbles, both of which have maintained compelling and complex flavor combinations.

Peterson tells me they spent much of those six weeks not only hiring a completely new staff but also playing around with some of the exotic ingredients and deciding what potions were making the cut to include a variety of funky bitters and house-made shrubs and syrups to concoct adventurous booze-y matrimonies with clever little monikers like "Charming Little Secrets," a flavorful Fernet-Branca sipper, and "The Ways and the Means," a dessert like drink featuring a mixture of bourbon, house-made cereal milk (exactly what it sounds like, just ask your bartender), root liqueur, egg white and cinnamon. While the kitchen has maintained an adventurous flair with Chef Morgan recipes like kimchi vinaigrette and usage of artisan cheeses and fresh produce.

With a new menu and staff in place, 1022 South quietly opened its doors to the public in mid-June. When asked how the journey has been so far Peterson says with a laugh, "It's been interesting. With a new staff and menu, I've been trepidatious because day one was everyone's first day. We had nothing to go off of to gauge what to expect so I haven't done any marketing yet. Just word of mouth has kept the people trickling in and has kept us busy, it's been good."

One noticeable difference in ambiance gets you before you even enter the doors in that the patio has been extended. Peterson says that was one of the first moves made since patio dining space is so hard to come by in the Tacoma area save for the waterfront and a handful of other establishments. Inside you're welcomed by the same intimacy in space, bare bulb hanging lights and candles but fresh paint and bundles of flowers give 1022 a more delicate and warm embrace.

Now six weeks in with a confident staff and established vibe, Peterson is planning a patio party to serve as more of a celebration than a grand re-opening of sorts towards the end of summer. Some kinks are still being worked out of course. She tells me some of the cocktails will be tweaked and prices will be reduced (the average specialty cocktail running anywhere from $12 and up) as well as some minor changes to the food menu. Come fall, Chef Morgan is anticipating a fall menu overhaul and the opportunity to concoct some of his own specialty cocktails specifically meant to pair with the new seasonal bites.

Though it may not be the 1022 we once knew and loved, the establishment seems to have stayed true to it's hip vibe offering delicious plates and adventures when partaking in libations. A trend I hope to see flourish with it's future endeavors.

1022 SOUTH, Open Sun-Thurs 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Fri-Sat 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., 1022 S. J St., Tacoma, 253.627.8588

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