Escape to Milk Tiger Lounge
by Gabrielle Domanski
Tucked away on Fourth Street, between a hair studio and a food mart, only steps away the bustling 17th Avenue S.W. strip, stands Milk Tiger Lounge. With only a small white tiger sculpture hanging above the entrance, the lounge can be easy to miss, but those who have heard about it through gushing word-of-mouth reviews, quickly become frequent visitors.
“It’s my neighbourhood bar and I don’t even live in that neighbourhood. I can go there and I’m totally comfortable being me,” said Selina Renfrow, a recent Mount Royal University grad. “I think anybody that goes there, as long as they’re genuine to themselves, they’re going to have a good time.” Milk Tiger Lounge has become well-known for being a sophisticated cocktail lounge without any accompanying pretentiousness. The staff is approachable and friendly, and according to co-owner Nathan Head, the lounge is a little bit different and kind of quirky.
“Maybe classy-weird would be a good way to describe (the atmosphere),” Head said. Since it opened its doors in December 2008, after former tenant A Bar Named Sue had closed, Milk Tiger has become home to a varied clientele, including a trendy urban crowd and a few jetsetters. “A lot of people compare us to bars from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver,” Head said.
With business partner Rich Adams, Head originally took influence from the classic speak- easies of the ’30s when it came to conceptualizing the atmosphere of their space, as well as naming it.
“Tiger’s milk during the ’30s was a slang term for gin,” Head said. “We thought about The Tiger’s Milk bar, but it just didn’t flow, it didn’t quite have what we were looking for, so we just switched it around and Milk Tiger became the name.”
Thanks in part to the low lighting and upscale interior design, Milk Tiger Lounge exudes a cozy and inviting atmosphere complemented by its vast selection of specialty cocktails and quality food.
Recently introducing gluten- free items to the menu, which are easily as good as any other meal items, Head and Adams prove their focus is on the customer. “I think it’s awesome that they’re willing to take into consideration people’s dietary concerns. I have a lot of friends who are vegetarian or vegan or what not, and it’s hard to go out,” Renfrow said. “It’s nice to know that you can invite people to go out and they’re all going to find something to eat there.”
This hidden gem in Calgary’s bar scene is a funky alternative to flashier, big name bars, which tend to cater to a Top- 40-loving crowd. With local DJs providing weekly entertainment, including former Night Gallery DJ, Don Davidson (a.k.a DJewel), Milk Tiger provides a comfort- able and sophisticated escape for those wanting to try something different on a night out on the town.