Do you spell the brown alcoholic beverage “whisky” or “whiskey”? With or without the E, that’s not the dilemma in The Baxter Inn. The question is which one to try.
The Baxter Inn took its name from the Boston mob, its space from an old Cue Design fabric storehouse, and its look from a sports bar (minus the sport). They ended up with a place that is pretty great to pass an hour or two. A place where Johnny is your best friend and you can get a Suntory tan. The lights are low, the blues are blowing, and the spirits are high.
In true New York or Boston speakeasy tradition, it’s difficult to find. A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, was an illicit establishment that sells alcoholic beverages during the Prohibition period. These days it refers to a retro style bar that replicates aspects of historical speakeasies.
Located at in the basement of a building at the back of an unmarked alleyway off Clarence Street, this drinking den – full of character and people – is an unexpected surprise for the first time visitor.
When you come down the stairs, and step through the door, you’ll see straight away that it’s mainly whisky here. The bartender can tell you exactly how many bottles from the Highland, the Lowland, Speyside and the islands they’ve got lined up behind the bar.
The dark, linear interior features a bar that runs almost the full 10 metres of its length. It’s one of the best and most well-stocked and tiered bars we’ve seen for a while. The initially overwhelming list of almost 800 whiskies (featuring everything from Talisker 10-year-old to Glenfiddich 12-year-old) can be deciphered by the helpful staff.
True connoisseurs should head for the Whisky Room concealed in the cellar. It stocks more exclusive whiskies, and provides a suitably intimate atmosphere to enjoy them in.
But there’s more to the Baxter Inn than whisky. There’s pretzels. And there’s plenty of folks who like what the bartenders do with cocktails, and the way they pour a beer. Hell, even the wine list gets a workout from time to time. What you drink and how you want to drink is up to you.
No reservation. Just walk-in and join the queue.
The Baxter Inn
152/156 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Visited in Jun 2022