East Seventh Street bar Small Victory close to opening

UPDATE: Small Victory is officially opening on Jan. 4, with hours set as 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

EARLIER: Longtime Austin bartender Josh Loving is finally about to open a bar of his very own, Small Victory.

It’s been in the works for awhile in part because he and his business partner, Brian Stubbs, have taken their time to make sure everything is in prime working order. “We want to do it all in good time so we meet our own expectations and not just the public at large,” Loving said. “So I’ll say we’re opening to the public after the new year.”

Photo by Larry Kolvoord / American-Statesman. Josh Loving has worked at a variety of local bars and restaurants, including Fino, pictured here, but is finally preparing to open his own. Small Victory will serve wine and craft cocktails.

Photo by Larry Kolvoord / American-Statesman. Josh Loving has worked at a variety of local bars and restaurants, including Fino, pictured here, but is finally preparing to open his own, Small Victory

When his tiny East Seventh Street bar is finally ready for business, expect a handful of cocktails on the menu, as well as a limited number of other boozy options, including sherry, brandy, wine and beer. Cider from Austin Eastciders, a particular favorite drink of Loving’s, might also find a place behind the bar.

But the 800 sq. ft. size of Small Victory, in many ways, dictates the bar program — and what the bar will ultimately become. The name of his place is “not kitschy or a joke; it really is the smallest bar in Austin, Texas,” Loving said. “The size dictates the experience and also the storage and what we can have in there. It can hopefully be a destination for all kinds of drinkers, not just people that like fancy ice and fancy cocktails.”

In the interim before opening, he’s having his bartenders practice their skills with six classic drinks pulled from one of his favorite cocktail books, “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” by David A. Embury.

Embury, a lawyer who had never worked behind the bar, published his book in 1948, a dark time in the cocktail-making world. “I — and others in the bar industry — we feel like he carried the torch when it was at its dimmest because that was the beginning of the turn-down of cocktail culture,” Loving said. “That was the industrialization of food production and the arrival of sour mix and all the (unfortunate stuff) of the ’50s and ’60s.”

Although Small Victory might not open with the six cocktails that Embury trumpeted as the basics of drink-making — including the Daiquiri, the Old Fashioned and the Sidecar — these are a good indication of the kinds of cocktails you’ll find there. Loving wants his bar program to “be comfortable, almost like a good pair of shoes,” he said.

Hailing from venerated Austin watering holes like Half Step, Midnight Cowboy and Weather Up, he’s had his eye on opening his own place for some time now. It hasn’t been so easy for him and Stubbs, who have been renovating the former Mike’s Pub space downtown at the corner of East Seventh and Congress Avenue.

“I think the name came about when (Brian) said something like, ‘If we get it done in this place, it would be a small victory for us,’ ” Loving said.

Look for updates on this blog about the official opening of Small Victory, located at 108 E. Seventh St. For more information, visit twitter.com/smallvictorybar.


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