Ahhh… The Baxter Inn…
Let me set the scene…. It’s a dark night, we’ve just had dinner at a not very nice place and I am in a very unpleasant frame of mind…. AND it’s blowing a gale in the city…. Not just gusty, but really whipping so that it’s hard to walk…. On shoes that quiet frankly are falling off every two seconds and annoying me off even more… Oh boy am I in a good mood!
I very nearly pull the pin and make for home.
Oscar, thankfully, keeps buoying me up and finally we reach Clarence St… and the wind stops… Ha-le-LU-IA!! It’s a sign!
Now, this is the tricky bit… we are walking along Clarence, counting down the numbers and – hang-on… there’s no bar… back and forward – nope, not there…
I look down an old archway and see a couple of bodies wandering around in the gloomy distance… I bet you they are lost too… looking for the same place. We walk down the lane-way and end up in a carpark? What?!? A lovely girl smoking outside says… “It’s down there..” and points to a fire escape stairwell. Oh, of course! Don’t know how we could possibly have missed that! What, was I thinking??! (Very, very dark and mean thoughts… trust me!!!)
Down the fire escape and “WOW”. Wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW…. Did you get that? All of a sudden we have walked into a warm, candle-lit, glowing, All-American, friendly drinking den – the angles start singing and I think that I might just be in heaven. Whisky heaven. A subterranean Whisky heaven… with Boxing stuff on the walls.
Needless to say, my unfavourable mood has evaporated and I am in the most highest of high spirits. The room is packed. So we amble about trying to find a corner or bentwood stool on which to perch on. Both done with some satisfying ease. Now…. what to drink….
I really am not a Whisky drinker. I wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference between a malt, a double malt, a Scotch or something that was poured out of a peaty bog… and I probably wouldn’t like it either, remembering my few sips of whisky in the past. So, if you want to read about that, pop over here (this is a great little article, so read it anyway) and like I say, let’s leave that sort of stuff to the people who know.
So I order a red wine, and Oscar orders a Baccardi and Dry and it only comes to $15. Which I think is pretty reasonable for Sydney. But Sydney is Sydney and even friends from New York think it’s expensive here. I guess if you wanted cheap, you’d join up at a regional RSL and hang out with the old smelly bloke in the corner with the lumpy nose, but you don’t, so you’re here… and so are we.
As we sit and drink and discretely try to figure out the new camera (which is really a bit scary and will require quite a lot of practice), one of the lovely staff members wanders by with a bowl of free pretzels. He also tells us they have a cheesey-platey thing with some sort of whipped butter, but as we’ve already had dinner, we say no. The pretzels are good though, and I can’t help but run the Seinfeld line… “These pretzels are making me thirsty!”…. (Oscar looks at me in silence)… Right…. I’ll just have another drink then….
The Baxter Inn is the slicker sporty sister to the very furry Shady Pines Saloon in Darlinghurst, both brought to you by Anton Forte and Jason Scott. Straight away you can tell the two come from similar lineage. They are both American in style, heavy on the timber, saloony and dimly lit. The Baxter Inn has however a smarter feel for some reason and I think it mostly has to do with the brass pinned whisky list, tiered bottle display and sliding ladders at the bar. Even the staff dress up nice – bow-ties, slicked hair and all.
Timber tables dot the main floor and there are a few booths towards one end. Boxing paraphernalia and mirrors with booze adverts adorn the walls and the whole space glows warmly with candles and vintage outdoor lamps. There is even a photo of a 1950s-ish kangaroo boxing a bloke, and I’m pretty sure it’s not American, but it’s funny all the same. Misters Forte and Scott must have realised that there’d be a fair amount of standing going on as they have rather kindly run a timber dado and bar rail around virtually every brick wall and column. Plenty of space to perch that golden tumbler!
The Loos. Um… well I just had to take a photo. Complete with it’s own speaker! What more could you want? And I have to say, it is so nice to pee in a well presented loo rather than all those ones you see with the too-cool-for-school graffiti everywhere.
And whilst I’ve mentioned speakers, the music is croony, jazy, bluesy. And it is so easy to talk and relax and people watch. It would be so nice just to stay and while away the evening here, in fact, I think I will. Often.
LOVIN’: The brass whisky list and loos.
NOT LOVIN’: ….?
NOISE: It’s very very speakeasy.
BRING: Your mates or a 3rd date. 1st if she’s wearing a sailor dress and 1950s heels.
HOW MUCH: $$$$$
WHEN: 4pm – 1am Monday to Saturday