Listen to Austin 360 Radio

The Tigress: Small pub, big-time cocktails

Mike Sutter
The Moscow Mule cocktail, left, uses Fever-Tree ginger beer; the French 75 has gin, champagne, Paula's Texas Lemon liqueur and lemon juice.

Thanks to 25 years as a medical technician, Pam Pritchard knows a little something about, as she puts it, ‘glassware and mixing things.'

So three years ago, she left her hometown of Santa Barbara, Calif., to open a pub in Austin, a city she loved for its live music. It took longer than she'd planned, but that pub is called the Tigress, which opened May 26 on North Loop Boulevard.

The roster of cocktails at the Tigress has grown from eight to 15 since it opened, no small feat for somebody with no cocktail experience before opening her own place. Pritchard credits a 12-week class by Tipsy Texan blogger and bar chef David Alan for her full-body embrace of classic cocktails.

The list includes standards such as the Sidecar, the Manhattan, even a margarita (‘Tequila Daisy,' if you prefer), all for $7. If you've ordered a proper cocktail lately, you know the going rate is more like $10. The Tigress is an 80-proof wonderland.

There's a Moscow Mule, made with vodka, lime juice and a little bottle of Fever-Tree ginger beer from England with a searing snap of ginger. It's hot and cold at the same time, refreshing and blushing in the same carbonated breath. The French 75 mixes gin, Paula's Texas Lemon liqueur and a bubble bath of champagne to make it dance. The drink's tall, gilded glasses were an opening gift from Lynelle Keil-Gray of the nearby vintage shop Hog Wild. A cocktail called Blood and Sand brings together blended scotch and Cherry Heering liqueur for a smoky, medicinal tonic, like single-malt from a voodoo package store.

I heard about the Tigress through my friend John Jackson, who has a business in the North Loop area. He spoke in support of Pritchard a few times as she petitioned the Austin City Council for approval to open her little pub, a 25-seater about the size of an orthodontist's waiting room.

Its layout is inspired by a friend's bar in Santa Barbara called the Press Room, Pritchard said, with a frosted-glass front wall, a short, curved bar like a raised eyebrow and a paint scheme the color of crushed red ochre. LP-size platform tables fitted with purse hooks jut from the walls. Two flat-screen TVs play black-and-white classic films.

From one of six taps, a visiting Englishman who's a friend of Pritchard's poured a 20-ounce glass of Guinness to the very top, with just a mustache of cappuccino-colored foam for show. The clean taps and lines of a brand-new place mean the chance for revelatory 20-ounce pours of Live Oak, Independence and 512 beers for just $5.

The decor includes a baroque cradle-and-dial phone that speed-dials neighborhood restaurants: Phara's across the street, the Parlor next door, Foreign & Domestic a few streets over. And because those $7 cocktails can sneak up like wine coolers at a sorority mixer, one of those buttons calls a cab company.

The Tigress. 100 W. North Loop Blvd., Unit G. 600-3232. Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. (later, depending on business) Wednesdays-Sundays.