The Baxter Inn
Count to a hundred and play hide and seek with the latest addition to the Sydney small bar scene. To play, first head to Clarence Street. Seek out a deserted alleyway at street number 156. Walk down and follow the directions of a man pointing left. Open the door and go down the steps. If you’ve made it this far, you better set up a tent in the candlelit confines; you won’t be leaving anytime soon.
Run by the award-winning Shady Pines crew, The Baxter Inn has all the tell-tale signs of a small bar – dimly lit, no signage and themed. That’s where the similarity ends. The focus is the long wooden bar manned by a decent number of dapper bartender gentlemen. Liquor bottles cozily line the wall, nestled among fairy lights. The selection is so epic it requires each bartender to use a library-style booze ladder to reach their desired bottle. Hosting and boasting more than 300 types of whisky, this could be a secret bar from the 1930s (I still have my suspicions that it is).
We hand our fate over to award-winning bar manager Lewis Jaffrey of Grandma’s Bar fame. He expertly whips up a concoction that has the perfect balance of freshly squeezed apple juice, (made right in front of you), whisky and unknown additions, a drink not found on the menu. The Continental Sour, the Baxter signature take on a New York Sour, comes highly recommended, made up of rye whisky, egg white, lemon and a sweet hint of Young Blood red wine. Lewis takes us for a short tour into an old bank vault that’s been fashioned into an impressive wine cellar with an even more impressive wine list sourced by the enigmatic Enrique Mendoza.
Bowls of pretzels are passed around; you can hear yourself speak over the old school tunes in the background. There are enough tables and booths to sit at and stools lining the bar; sit there and it’s likely you will get to know all the bartenders and a few locals too. No detail is left untouched; from large hand cut ice cubes, to sockets lining the bar for phone charging convenience.
Having only opened last week, The Baxter Inn has already been attracting a decent sized crowd on a Tuesday night. Decorated with fog horns and old style coin machines, take a trip back in time, but try to do so before the crowds ebb you out.
WHAT The Baxter Inn
WHERE The Basement, 152-156 Clarence St
WHEN 4pm-1am, Monday-Saturday