Sydney’s never been much of a secret city, we’re all nip & tuck, flash and show, social pages, champagne and technicolour; we leave the cobblestones and noir to Melbourne. If you really look though, you’ll see we can be a playful city too.
Taken by J. Pang
Located in by far the most secret location of them all, the only telltale sign of this new speakeasy is a trail of bright young things emerging from a fire escape in a dark driveway on an otherwise deserted Clarance street. Don’t worry it’s not a drug bust but some slightly inebriated customers leaving Baxter Inn: the newest child from the boys of the beloved Shady Pines Saloon. So if you’ve avoided Jason Scott and Anton Forte’s stellar initial effort because of a crippling doraphobia or peanut allergy then this new American sports bar should draw you back into the cool crowd.
We arrive late one evening and without having to wait (pretty chuffed especially having spotted a 1 hour queue at Shady Pines) down the rabbit hole we go and emerge in a lively underground Chicago sports bar. Candle and boxing memorabilia clutter the low underground space while a mixed crowd of suits and youths sip cocktails and whiskeys along to some old blues tunes.
Depending on who you ask these guys have either 150 or 300 whiskeys at hand, given I’ve probably tried about 4 in my lifetime both counts sound impressive to me. Inundated with choice (Whiskey cognescenti can choose their tipple based on region and age) I ask our bartender for his favourite and he pours us two single malts served neat over a block of hand chipped ice.
Glenmorangie Original 10 years $10 + Glenmorangie Nectar D’or 12 years $13
The original is incredibly floral and smooth and my drinking companion seems impressed. From the same distillery the Nectar D’or has been aged in hand picked French (Sauternes to be precise) casks and is quite sweet, this is definitely my preference although seasoned drinkers may find this too cloying.
If whiskeys aren’t you thing don’t fear, they’ve got a cocktail menu, beers on tap, wines and cognacs in the cellars and all the regular spirits at hand. Ask for your complimentary bowl of pretzels and I’ll wager you’ll lose a few good hours in this cosy hide away.
Who’d ever thought, we’d soon be out-Melbourning the Melbournians and I for one ain’t complainin’.
Easy going communal watering hole with fair priced tipples and the largest collection of whiskey at hand in the heart of the CBD. You hear that? It’s the silence of an office just emptied out. Join your friends there and play a little.
a. Basement, 152-156 Clarence St Sydney (walk down the driveway and turn right)