The Hilltop is getting a second craft cocktail lounge from the owner of 1022 South. Chris Keil plans a mid to late-spring opening for Hilltop Kitchen, a 49-seat cocktail lounge and eatery in the space where Tempest Lounge operated from 2005 until last September. He’ll open Hilltop Kitchen with Matt Schweitzer, a managing partner at Cal’s Classic American.
The theme at Hilltop Kitchen - or HK, as Keil called it in a phone interview - will have a niche focus on categories of spirits Keil finds interesting - namely, Latin American spirits. He talked at length about agave-based and Latin American spirits mezcal and pisco. Rum, whiskey and genevers also are spirits that Keil is considering. Keil said he may return to where he started when he worked at Monsoon Room - 1022 South's precursor - tiki style cocktails. Expect less of the Latin American spirits on the menu at 1022 South as Keil directs cocktails there toward gin, whiskey, brandy and sherry.
Keil (who also is known as Chris Langston) opened 1022 South in March 2009 as a cocktail den unlike anything Tacoma - or the West Coast - ever has seen. Botanical infusions, vinegary shrubs, bitters and house-made tinctures play central in the menu's apothecary theme. With a cocktail menu that changes occasionally, 1022 South is home to some of the region’s most interesting mixology and has captured national media attention, including this New York Times Magazine article in January 2011. The cocktail lounge is tiny - 20 is a crowd - and comes with a literary theme. Books line floating shelves. Wooden tables can be pushed into different configurations to accommodate small to medium parties. The lighting is muted, flickering candles and a pendant row of exposed filament bulbs.
I asked Keil what kind of food he’ll pair with the cocktails at Hilltop Kitchen and he said that's still under deliberation as he and Schweitzer take a look at the kitchen and its limitations. The former Tempest kitchen is about the size of a closet, but still is bigger than the tiny kitchen at 1022 South. They may only have the capacity to produce eats similar to the flavor-friendly, but lighter fare served at 1022 South. “We are going to serve some Latin American food, seen through a Northwest filter, a seasonal filter,” he said.
Keil said the bar will be 21 and older only. Expect a few cosmetic changes in the interior, but the footprint of Tempest will remain.
Hilltop KitchenWhere: 913 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, TacomaOpening: Mid to late spring 20131022 South: 1022 S. J. St., Tacoma, 253-627-8588, 1022south.com