Friday, December 2, 2011

Whisky drinkers, get in to The Baxter Inn

I hate to spoil surprises so I won't. But good luck finding The Baxter Inn; the new, keenly awaited CBD venture from the guys behind heart- and award-winning Darlinghurst bar, Shady Pines Saloon.

If and when you do find the security guard that gives you some vague hope that you're in the right place, and once you get past the confusion of descending fire stairs into a basement; take a breath and push back that door.

The wall of some whisky options at The Baxter Inn, Clarence Street, Sydney
You won't get the raucous liveliness of Shady Pines, but layout is very similar though substantially larger, with a long bar up one side lined with bar stools, a bit of standing space and then a fair number of round tables with chairs.

The poison of choice at The Baxter Inn is most definitely whisky, and the gold lettered board featuring approximately 200 varieties of whisky is only two-thirds of what's available. That's right, they have 300 whiskies on offer.

Complimentary pretzels
Having just opened this week, seats at the long bar were filled on Tuesday night with a post work crowd munching on complimentary pretzels rather than peanuts as per Shady Pines.

The hipster quotient is toned down in this suit-and-shirt-heavy area and rather than the laughably fun decor at the first venture, The Baxter Inn has a more refined look with walls decked out in vintage sports memorabilia and clippings, while blues music still plays over the clearly appreciative crowd.

And as per Shady Pines (last comparison, I promise), the service is second to none with iced water dispensed from gorgeous vessels from another era as soon as we're seated. I doubt you'll find more friendly and knowledgeable guys behind a bar than these; for whisky in particular.

South Side cocktail
Apart from the whisky menu board, The Baxter Inn alternate menu features a handful of classic cocktails, several pages of wines and I think just four beers on tap (including Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout - you can barely get the stuff by the bottle let alone on tap!). They've also got their whizz-bang juicers to offer the popular fresh juice and spirit mixes.

My South Side cocktail is served in an enamel mug filled to the rim with crushed ice, and is just the thing for sticky evenings and non-whisky drinkers. Gin, lime, sugar syrup and mint - simple, effective and not whisky.

Ardbeg Alligator on the rocks
For the whisky inclined, I'm not sure how you would pick from 300 choices, but the board is helpfully split by region with most labels offering a few ages - the priciest I spotted was some Laphroaig bottle at $40 a hit.

It blows the mind to think that anyone knows about the finer details of each and every whisky, but at a pick, we're casually informed that the Ardbeg Alligator variety of Islay scotch whisky is particularly peaty and smoky.

The Alligator refers to the state of the heavily charred white oak cask that the booze is aged within. Customers can have their whisky served however they please; in this case, with a hand-chipped block of ice.

Just some of the back shelf at The Baxter Inn
Sipping drinks at the bar lends itself well to staring at the unbelievably awe-inspiring back bar where two ladders are positioned to access those top shelves. The back bar itself is a featured talking point, but The Baxter Inn is definitely a conversational bar and not really designed for a quiet drink - you'll be chatting with the friendly faces behind the bar at the very least.

With their all booze and no food formula down pat, The Baxter Inn is noisily welcoming, warm and friendly, and pretty much heaven for whisky drinkers - now where was that entrance again?

The Baxter Inn on Urbanspoon

8 comments:

lateraleating said...

Haven't seen an enamel cup in ages! It's an interesting touch, although it kinda looks like a prison drink, LOL.

Lucas said...

Not a huge whiskey fan, but the ocktails and beer sound intriguing. May try this.

Dee said...

Eek you beat me to it! I love secret entrances it's always a little bit magical stepping inside :D

I heard it opened on Monday but I need to probably find a whiskey fiend to go with me.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Look at that wall of booze! Sometimes I wished I could drink more... ;)

Tina said...

Hi lateraleating - Prison, or scouts camp? :)

Hi Lucas - There's something for everyone but it's just heaven for whisky drinkers.

Hi Dee - A whisky fiend would definitely appreciate those 300 bottles more. The entrance is rather fun...

Hi Lorraine - It is quite the wall.

Food Wine Sleep said...

must give this place a try, love the odd drop of uisce beatha!!

Tina said...

Hi Food Wine Sleep - Love it, it's bringing all the whiskey/whisky lovers out of hiding!

Happyeverafter Bride said...

Mr HEA went there last night. Said its been his dream to go eversince he read this post. I want to go too so am sore he went without me. Lucky he says he will be keen to go back again... Maybe another 299 times to try all the whiskies

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