There Will Be Beer :: Baxter Inn
January 14th 2013
There Will Be Beer: A Guide to Sydney’s Pubs & Bars for Cheapskates and Drunkards
With a title as meticulously specific as ‘A Guide to Sydney’s Pubs & Bars for Cheapskates and Drunkards’ (‘Cheapskate’ being a keyword for most of the pubs I review) you’re probably wondering why I would be reviewing a pricey and well to-do bar such as the Baxter Inn.
In all honesty, I never connected the dots between “Whiskey Bar” and “Expensive” until I was looking over the drink list. But by that time it was too late; I was already in love with the bar itself.
Hidden down an alley behind a bike shop, with no sign or logo and only a bouncer and a roped off area to let you know you’re in the right place; down a fire escape and through a door, straight into a speakeasy from the prohibition era.
1920s music blasts over the speaker, a welcome change from the bargain bin dance music played in most other Sydney bars. Behind the bar, bartenders supporting excellent facial hair guard a wall of whiskeys, bourbons, ports, wines, and every other type of liquor and alcohol that would send any AA member into relapse.
Now, there are beers, but a drunken glance at their prices looked like the average you’d be paying would be the festival price of $7. Besides the fact, you’re in a whiskey bar. Buying a beer here would be like buying a glass of turps at a winery. Sure it might be cheaper, but you’re kind of missing the point.
As hidden as the bar is, you’d be hard pressed to find a stool, let alone table, for you and yours to sit and enjoy your drink at. I arrived with a friend at around 7:30ish; which at most other Sydney bars would be just in time to beat out the dreaded 8pm horde. At the Baxter, however, we were the Johnny-Come-Latelies. The place was chockers. We only stayed for a couple of drinks; partly because of the crowds, and partly because we were running out of money very quickly.
There is no real way I can justify drinking here for the Cheapskate; the prices are just too high. But this place isn’t for the Cheapskate, it’s for the Drunkard. It’s for those of us who enjoy a well made and high quality drink.
Here’s an example of what I mean: I recently bought a very cheap bottle of whiskey. Now I won’t say what brand it is, but it cost under $30 and tastes like it was aging in an ashtray, even when mixed.
At the Baxter, the first drink I indulged in was a wonderfully simple cocktail called an Old Style. Bourbon in an ice filled glass, a cherry and an orange skin on top.It cost $17. It’s difficult to keep drinking at that price, but on the flip side, it was also difficult to keep drinking the whiskey I bought as well, despite how cheap it was.
The fact is that if you’re looking to drink in Sydney, you first need to figure out where you sit on the Cheapskate/Drunkard scale. Drinking at home with the terrible tasting whiskey would be deep in the Cheapskate side, while The Baxter sits on the high end of Drunkard. This isn’t a place to save money; it’s a place to enjoy art and craft of drinking.
All that said, it’ll be a while before I can afford to drink there again. But that just makes the Baxter that much more special. It’s a place to spoil yourself. To forget about saving money and simply enjoy yourself and the drink in your hand… Just make sure you’ve still got enough left in your bank account to pay the rent when you’re finished.
The Baxter Inn
156 Clarence Street,
Thirsty for more? Join Daniel Prior for more Sydney libation adventures here.