60 Park St Sydney, NSW 2000
|Opening hours||Monday-Saturday, 4pm-midnight, Sunday 4pm-10pm|
You know what Sydney needs? A bit more friendly bartender banter.
Cognac and cheeky chat is the modus operandi at this underground tavern beneath bland ol' Park Street.
Look for the three skulls on the corner of Park and Elizabeth and head downstairs to find three ex-Baxter Inn bartenders who have been released into the wild with CVs boasting freshly squeezed apple juice, dark spirits and good banter.
You can tell their pedigree as soon as you step inside. It feels slightly like this drinking den has replicated a bit of all the Swillhouse venues: Baxter's dark and elegant speakeasy aesthetic, Frankie's rowdiness, Shady Pines' pull-up-at-the-bar culture.
But co-owner Charlie Lehmann says they're not going for any particular theme and, if anything, they're rooting for the mother country over the current American obsession, with all-local wines and beers and old photos of the Harbour Bridge, George Street and Reschs on the walls.
''We wanted to open a classic bar that didn't particularly run to a theme but had great service, great drinks and cheeky chat,'' he says.
As the name suggests, these boys like to ramble when they're drunk. They like to ramble when they're sober, too. They can even ramble while they're shaking an excellent whisky sour.
It's hard to get a word in if you sit at the bar but that's half the fun. The other half, of course, is the booze.
Whisky with fresh green apple juice is wildly popular and they're slowly building a nice little cognac collection.
The cocktails don't take themselves seriously (did I hear breakfast cocktail? or Jim Beam Rye with a dollop of ice-cream?) but are made with serious skill.
A Twelve Gauge Grog (Havana 7, orange, lemon, bitters, grapefruit slush, $17) served in pewter will knock you for six and the Tombstone (Bookers bourbon, sugar, bitters, $19) is suggested for breakfast but will have you on the floor by lunch.
The piece de resistance is the Snap, Crackle and Pop (Havana 7, Amaretto, Montenegro and maple syrup flipped with a secret ingredient, $18) - the dessert drink of champions.
They do the classics darn well, too.
An Old Fashioned is served in beautiful glassware and doesn't skint on the good stuff.
The rest is just a sideshow. Food-wise, it's a gratis bowl of corn nuts which are almost criminally addictive.
In the beer/wine department, it's all 'Straya. A tight selection of a dozen craft beers ranges from a Cavalier oktoberfest from Victoria ($8) to a phenomenal Keith and Sons ginger beer from Queensland ($16).
Eight wines by the glass aren't crazy-adventurous and include a nice Paringa pinot noir from Victoria ($12).
Saturdays are a little quiet at the moment and the room definitely feels empty when it's empty but come week nights, it's rammed.
Pull up a stool and get rambling.
YOU'LL LOVE IT IF … you love the Baxter/Shady/Frankie's collective.
YOU'LL HATE IT IF … tattoo-heavy speakeasy taverns aren't your jam.
GO FOR … Snap, Crackle and Pop, Twelve Gauge Grog, bar banter.