The blind pig, juice joints, and speakeasies of the prohibition era, popularized by today’s mod and steampunk trends, are making a comeback and 1122 Cocktail Lounge in Paso Robles is setting the stage on Railroad Street.
Founders and co-owners, Troy Larkin and Donovan Schmit opened 1122 in June of 2018 and as owners of both Pappy McGregor’s and Fish Gaucho had the drive and vision to start their third venture in Downtown Paso Robles.
“We had been thinking about opening a speakeasy for about three years and once we had the capital we were sitting on the patio at Pappy’s trying to think of a place to set up shop,” said Schmit. “Most of the speakeasies we had visited were only about 1,000 square feet and our storage area off the patio turned out to be just what we were looking for.”
Creating the ambiance of a speakeasy took Larkin and Schmit on an adventure visiting speakeasies in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Schmit said, “We incorporated things that we felt inspired by in our travels to at least 20 speakeasies and it all started coming together,” he said. “People have described it as walking into a fancy hotel in the 1920’s and into the secret bar off the lobby.”
Schmit said that the location, just behind Pappy McGregor’s at 1122 Railroad Street was really the perfect fit because it is covert.
“This being an industrial street back here we found that if you had not heard about it, you would never find it, so it gives it that true speakeasy kind of vibe,” Schmit said.
Larkin and Schmit really wanted to give visitors the full treatment from ringing the doorbell to be greeted by the doorman peeking through the traditional peephole; down to the golden handmade flying monkey light fixtures. The attention to detail, brings 1122 to life, transporting visitors to a Prohibition-era speakeasy with a mod-steampunk twist.
Though the speakeasy is limited to 30 guests, it adds to the experience, giving a patron the ability to take in the room. Instead of tripping over folks to get a cocktail. a guest can enjoy a bar the length of the room with a chandelier overhead, golden decanters, absinth drip, golden fixtures, plush high-backed booths in both corners, and marble-topped cocktail tables. Drinks are finished at the table side from the drink cart for those enjoying a cozy corner booth, with a burst of flavor and scent to enhance the experience.
1122 boasts 150 bottles of spirits including a selection of rare highly allocated whiskey, cognac, scotch, brandy, local and imported, as well as every spirit imaginable. The menu will change seasonally, and the new winter menu will include an absinthe tasting flight for those tempted by the green fairy.
“We carry many local spirits including Krobār, Wine Shine, Bethel Road, Calwise, and Re:Find,” said Larkin, explaining that at all of their establishments they support local craftsmen. “We are serving up the classic cocktails with a modern-day twist and our manager Tony Bennett and his staff trained for three months to create the menu and choose the selection of spirits,” Larkin said. “They are so knowledgeable that you will leave having learned what barrel your whiskey was aged in and what makes each drink served unique.”
They serve up everything from the classic Manhattan, and Martini to Vespers, Last Words and Old Fashions. 1122 offers 12 seasonal rotating cocktails crafted by the staff on the menu and over 30 classics that date back to the 1920’s.
A member only spirit society was formed at the end of October, limited to 150 members. The annual membership includes 10 percent off cocktails and spirits, invitations to member-only society nights, theme parties including Dec. 5 the end of prohibition party, New Year’s Eve and more. The only way to join is to come to 1122 Cocktail Lounge during their hours of operation: Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 7 p.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
1122 Cocktail Lounge is located at, 1122 Railroad St. in Paso Robles and on Friday and Saturday, there is a line at the door, so reservations on OpenTable.com are recommended. To learn more, visit eleven-twentytwo.com.