The Baxter Inn, Sydney
It was my visit to The Baxter Inn that really kicked off this whole journey. I guess that doesn’t leave much to hide.
But why am I writing about a gin based cocktail at a world renowned whiskey den? And how did this kick off this whole blog? That was the surprise I had as well.
Simply, I find that I can’t drink whiskey without a decent hangover the following day. And, as all parents of young children will tell you, no matter how much you love your 18-month old, dealing with them with a hangover the first thing in the morning is one of the most sadistic forms of torture. So, what to do when you are in one of the world’s great bars (thankfully in Sydney) and don’t want to revert to beer?
The back story
Meeting up with former colleagues who have become friends in the run up to the end of year. We all needed a drink.
This hadn’t been my first visit to Baxter Inn. I still love the hidden entry (turn right before the garbage bins). There is something very fulfilling about reaching a subterranean gem. You really feel enveloped by the surrounds.
I offered to shout the first round and made my way to the bar. What confronted me was a very interesting cocktail list, but nothing jumped out. But it was clear the bartenders knew what to do.
On a whim, I ordered a South Side. And I was stunned the bartender knew without question what it was and got to work. I wasn’t sure an Australian bar would have the same focus and rigour that US-based Milk and Honey did.
It looked like a great specimen. It had the right colour and balance to expect. I received the usual guffaws from my drinking mates on ordering a girly drink (you shouldn’t expect otherwise in Australia).
The first sip reminded me of just how wonderful a South Side could be. Balance, ingredients, taste were perfect. It was refreshing, it was clean, it made you think you were drinking a health tonic. It was everything a South Side should.
Am I waxing lyrical? Maybe a little. This was my first South Side in a number of years since I left New York City. However, it was that good that I realised almost immediately, it would be a fun little micro-blog I could kick off. Yes, this was the genesis of this whole shebang.
How good was the Baxter Inn’s South Side? When my drinking colleagues tried a sip (after making fun only moments before), the next round became 3 South Sides.
Was it perfect?
Here lies the rub. While I could not find fault with the South Side (and have returned to validate and enjoy their ability), it doesn’t have that amazing spark that provides the sharp intake of breath that a have experienced. It doesn’t represent that last percent that takes the great to something else.
While I talk about a journey to find perfection, I readily realise I may have already found it at the Baxter Inn. It may take me years of searching to prove that out.
Simply, it is the gold standard I have found on this journey.
The Baxter Inn: 4 Stars
A little harsh? I might have to revise up over time, but need some space if I find better. And nothing has come close to date.
I can only recommend The Baxter Inn. It is a wonderful venue to meet and enjoy a quiet (or rowdy) evening. And I look forward to a time when I can submit myself to hangovers to explore their wonderful Whiskey offerings.