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FOOD & DRINK

The Baxter Inn

A cavernous whisky bar where the bartenders know their stuff and good times are at the top of the agenda.
By Trish Roberts
January 24, 2012
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The Baxter Inn

A cavernous whisky bar where the bartenders know their stuff and good times are at the top of the agenda.
By Trish Roberts
January 24, 2012
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Shady Pines has long been a firm favourite of ours, the only problem being that it's almost impossible to get in there for a drink when you'd like one the most. Thankfully, it sounds like the lads have heard our cries. The Baxter Inn is a new twist on the theme that Shady Pines established, focusing in on the ultimate cult alcohol: whiskey.

Like our other bar of choice, Grandma's, the Inn is buried in the basement of an inner-city building. Unlike Grandma's, you'll almost certainly need a map to track it down, hiding at the end of an unmarked alley off Clarence Street. There's no chance of stumbling across it and, to be fair, this place deserves a dedicated visit.

For one thing, it will take you a while to sample all the options. The shelves of whiskey stacked behind the bar are accessed via a ladder on wheels: there's literally a library of the stuff in here. In fact, there's over 300 to pick and choose from, and I have little doubt that the bartenders know each and every one. The options listed on the board are split into region and range across all prices. Munch on the complimentary pretzels while you browse, and you'll soon be thirsty enough to dive right in. The whiskey is served up however you'd like, though I'd suggest that you won't need any of the hand-cut ice with the nicer drops. These barmen are nothing if not courteous, so alternative options (whiskey or not) can be whipped up for you on the spot.

The decor is a touch more sombre than the Pines, more like a turn-of-the-century father's study. Think bare brick walls, low ceilings and soft carpet, with prints of boxers and horses, fog horns and coin machines scattered around the room. It's clearly designed to sit back and sink, with pre-war blues gently groaning away in the background. In short, plan to come and stay a while. I can assure you that you won't want to head home early from here.

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