I began taking photos of Milk Tiger Lounge as the sun was setting outside, but then the dapper bartender/owners started serving me their delicious cocktails and the rest is history.
The lounge is as polar opposite as you can get from the space formerly occupied by A Bar Named Sue, as well as from the sports bars and pubs a stone’s throw away on 17th Avenue SW.
Instead, Milk Tiger is a throw-back to days when people would relax over cocktails with their friends or dates, or slide into a seat at the bar, take off a fedora, and chat with the bartender.
The menu is full of drinks I’d only ever heard mentioned in black and white movies — Old Fashioned, Rusty Nail, Harvey Wallbanger (2 oz. $9.04).
The Sazerac (bourbon or cognac with sugar and Peychaud’s bitters — which took six months to source from the U.S.) dates back to pre-Civil War New Orleans and is said to be the first cocktail ever invented in America.
My Pimm’s Cup (Pimm’s No. 1 gin, soda, cucumber) was really good — and strong. It wasn’t until I awoke bleary-eyed the next morning that I realized the standard pour for Milk Tiger’s cocktails is 2 oz.
While the cocktail menu is a focus, there’s also a well-chosen wine list (with 2 oz. tasters), martinis, bottled beers, Brooklyn Pilsner, Guinness and Strongbow on draught — and Pabst Blue Ribbon by the can.
I love the food menu, anchored by a list of petites bouchées (little bites) priced at $1.50 each or a platter for $15. It’s not a place for dinner, but will more than satisfy those inter-drink snack cravings.
Steak tartare on a cucumber slice was refreshing; pear and caramelized onion on a Japanese rice cracker had nice textures; a spicy pork bundle with tomato and garlic paste exploded with flavour.
Sweet tooths will appreciate the full-sized fresh waffles ($8) or spicy chocolate brownie cake.
I can already list favourite parts of this tiny hideaway: the attentive, unpretentious service, the wooden moose head, the flower vases built into the wall, and the really comfortable black chairs near the front door.
Jenaya, who introduced me to Milk Tiger on her birthday, admitted to visiting five days in a row when it first opened, the streak stopped only because it’s closed on Mondays.
Milk Tiger Lounge, 1410-4th St. SW, Calgary, (403) 261-5009. Twitter: milktigerlounge.
No big sign; look for the graffiti tag. Open 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Closed Mondays. Food menu until 11 p.m.