Calling the Shots on

The women defining Austin’s cocktail culture


Pam Pritchard
Calling the Shots
If you’re near the North Loop area, a visit to the Tigress Pub is de rigueur. A native of Santa Barbara, Calif., Pam Pritchard opened her homey mini-pub and cocktail lounge in 2010 with barely enough room for 20 patrons. Today, she has doubled the space to accommodate legions of dedicated regulars. Pritchard is a gregarious lady who will gladly serve a side of friendly conversation alongside the classic cocktails that comprise her menu. Her small, seasonally changing cocktail list features pre-prohibition standards served in appropriate glasses from her collection of vintage thrift store finds. “I like to change the list about every six weeks; it keeps us happy behind the bar, and it’s a great way to learn new cocktails,” she tells me. “When I opened, I think I knew about three cocktails without looking at the recipe cards. I was often scared and excited for hours on end. Now, I’m much more a manager-leader-creative gal. I experiment a lot, but often using the classic cocktail structure as a starting point for most cocktails I create. I tell my customers that I think of a cocktail like this: featured spirit, supporting spirit, with the sweet and juice as the yin-yang part, and bitters as the salt and pepper.” A recent example: a cocktail named “That’s MY Rabbit,” blending rye whiskey, Cherry Heering, Cointreau, ginger liqueur, lemon juice, and Peychaud’s bitters, described as “inspired by an episode of season four of The Walking Dead, where Daryl is forced to go halfzys on a dead rabbit.”

But Pritchard is, first and foremost, a great host. “I like to tweak a cocktail for a customer to make it just what they might enjoy best. Because I’ve changed it dozens of times now, I don’t usually have staples on the menu. However, we can usually make something from our greatest hits list. At the Tigress, you will always be able to get a French 75, Blood & Sand, Ward 8, Moscow Mule, Manhattan, Sazerac, or Old Fashioned. If you can’t remember it, we will help you!” When asked about the incredible success of her little endeavor, she is humble and sweet. “I had no idea so many people would enjoy what I was doing, I just went into it knowing I liked good cocktails and people, and believed the rest would fall into place somehow.”

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