“Have you been to the Baxter Inn yet?”
Every bartender, brand ambassador, spirit rep and whisky aficionado has asked this of us in the last week. The Baxter Inn, the latest CBD venture from the Shady Pines Saloon crew opened its doors, and the accolades have followed.
The whisky menu board at the Baxter Inn
To find it, you need walk through a dodgy laneway between two buildings, turn right and spot the friendly bouncer near the entrance. With a capacity of 130 people, which we’re told includes 10 staff, expect a queue to get in. Once you go down the stairwell and open the door, you’ll find yourself in a retro American-style saloon.
The design is a little reminiscent of Shady Pines but without the oddities and blaring music that prohibits conversation. There is a long bar that stretches along one side with ladders to climb, bar stools, a space with tables and chairs and a small standing area.
The Baxter Inn menu offers beers on tap, six classic cocktails which include Brandy Crusta and the South Side which comes served in an enamel cup and there’s an impressive wine list that takes up several pages. But you come to the Baxter Inn for one thing.
With nearly 300 whiskies on offer, there is only one way to order when you’ve tasted countless whiskies as we have had of late. The bartender’s recommendations are spot on with Ardbeg Uigeadail and Ardbeg Corryvreckan, both heavily peated single malts from Islay.
Ardbeg Corryvreckan and Ardbeg Uigeadail
The bartenders are welcoming, attentive and more than happy to chat with you about your choice of whisky despite the bar being at full capacity. If you’re lucky to get a seat at the bar, you can watch what is being served and listen to the odd apology they receive when someone orders a beer instead of a whisky.
Smokehead 18 year old and Hakushu 16 year old
Round two of Scotch has us trying the heavily peated Hakushu 16 year old single malt from Japan. It has that distinct Japanese whisky flavour with a strong measure of peat. The Smokehead 18 year old from Islay is a lot more intense with dominant seaweed and peat flavours.
The Baxter Inn has no food on the menu at this time, with complimentary pretzels being the only snack. It could be early days or a clever strategy to prevent people from lingering and to allow more turnover. Either way, there is only one problem with the Baxter Inn. Once you’re there amidst all that whisky, you may never want to leave.
The Baxter Inn
152-156 Clarence Street