The Shady Pines crew take the party underground
We’ll give you the address for Baxter Inn, but you’ve been warned – you are about to embark on an adventure in aimlessly scouting for a door. This spinoff by one of our favourite Sydney bars, Shady Pines, is technically located at 154 Clarence Street in the CBD, but that doesn’t do justice to what is probably the most obscure bar entrance in the city.
OK, we’ll give you a cheat sheet: you’ll find Baxter Inn down a long laneway, across the road from the Redoak Beer Café, which leads you to a dodgy-looking courtyard between office buildings. Look for the electrical grid in the far right corner, and – voila – there lies the hidden stairwell leading down to Baxter’s dark basement door.
Inside, the reward is this brilliant new CBD bar: a moody, warm space playing a killer blues playlist, and loosely modelled after Boston pubs in the early 1900s. We says loosely, because how else can you explain the poster of boxer Evander Holyfield and a Sam Adams beer mirror amid the random turn-of-the-20th-Century photos (like dudes wearing diaper-like underpants – hmmm, maybe that’s why they really called it Prohibition)?
The same great cocktails from Shady Pines remain, served in everything from tin gimlets to metal camping cups. Those similarities end, however, with the additional emphasis on whisky – your Scottish and Irish friends will be more than a wee bit impressed by the encyclopaedic list of Scotches, whiskeys, whiskies and bourbons. Dram, that’s good. And along with your tipple, you get free bowls of mini pretzels, a nice substitute for Shady’s signature peanuts.
Wine also gets a decent turn here, with a sommelier walking the floor. They’re almost exclusively Australian, and fit the old-school theme nicely by being listed under their old-school names, from claret (cabernet sauvignon) to burgundy (pinot). Go for some of the old vintages – maybe a Lakes Folly or Yarra Yering at its aging peak – and you might be invited for a casual chat in the intimate wine vault, hidden behind a locked door.
If there’s any gripe we have, it’s that there’s no food, but that’s coming soon too. The eager-to-please staff inform us that ploughman platters are on their way, which isn’t very Beantown, but it sounds good to us anyway, because once you finally locate this place, you’re going to want to make the most of your subterranean existence.
Where: 154 Clarence St, Sydney CBD
Hours: Mon-Sat | 4pm-1am