NORWALK, Conn. -- Isaac Patrick Camoro has more than 20 years in the bar business, and he's now brought his expertise to Norwalk, creating a "fun, acoustic, artistic vibe" in his Room 112.
The bar and lounge, now a few months old, is community-centric -- from the paintings by local artists on the exposed-brick walls, to the varied talents which grace the stage, to the small-plates food furnished by Harbor Harvest, a local organic farm.
Camoro told Daily Voice the idea also is to be inclusive. The bar features an array of events, from a "show your ink" party and a Halloween costume contest to open-mic nights and drag shows.
"For me, it's everybody coming together," he said. "I want people to come in, feel comfortable and have a different experience every time."
The brick-and-glass bar upstairs, designed by Camoro himself, playfully displays his initials and features four "sneaky tables" that bartenders can slide out to create more room for guests to gather.
The lounge's lower level features a man-cave-style game room, with a pool table, dartboards, shuffleboard, a jukebox, HD TVs and a sleek bar.
But it's by no means just about the physical space or the events -- the meticulously crafted cocktails are the bar's centerpiece.
Camoro said when he first began bartending, he focused on flair, flipping bottles and such. When Mary Maher, restaurant manager at New York's Windows on the World, took him under her wing, she told him, "If you flip one bottle, you're fired."
"She taught me how to sense, and to smell things."
And he's been creating ever since.
Camoro can't really explain how he creates his cocktail recipes. Often he simply begins with a new spirit, and ideas "they pop into my head -- and 90 percent of the time it comes out beautifully."
He's not shy in claiming credit for his drinks, either. "They're all unique and have never been made anywhere."
Some of the drinks do have traditional roots, like the Old Tom Fashion, which has the old-school Old Fashioned as its ancestor. The new incarnation instead uses gin, and it features detailed additions, like muddled tangerine and cherry.
One of Camoro's favorite cocktails is the Simone, named for his mom. It's comprised of Belvedere vodka, Hennessy Black cognac, Combier liqueur, vanilla paste, balsamic pomegranate and fresh lime juice, layered with red wine and Cava, and garnished with a flambé orange zest.
You can view a time-lapse video of the work that goes into Camoro's cocktails here.
The bar owner is proud of the originality, the focus on ingredient freshness and the fun of the process. "Everything will taste better if you have fun," he said.
He also wants to bring back the lounge and kind of go back in time.
Camoro reminisced about the two clubs his mom ran in Morocco, where he lived until he was 13. He wore bell-bottoms, the clubs had authentic disco balls, and his American dad would bring 45s back from the United States to play in the clubs.
He also spoke wistfully of when people dressed up to go out.
With Room 112, "we like to make people happy, give them style, an experience." But there's a focus on comfort, too. "I want it to be like you're coming to your best friend's bar or lounge."
The bar is open four nights a week, Wednesdays through Saturdays. It's also a unique venue for corporate meetings and special events, and the space can accommodate up to 200 guests.
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