Shady Pines Saloon

Address: Shop 5, 256 Crown Street, (entry in alleyway), Sydney, New South Wales , 2010, Australia
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Sun 4pm-midnight
Door: Go early
Style: Saloon bar
Recommended for: Fun/atmosphere
Price guide: Middling
Food: Bar snacks

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Now, any set of notes which begin "This is a fucking great bar!" would normally be followed by a couple of pages of hieroglyphics and some rather, erm, soft focus photographs of the floor.

Not so for Shady Pines, however. In the New York hipster bar vein, yet with a distinctively Sydney flavour, this Country & Western themed saloon in Darlinghurst rocks from the skulls behind the bar and the dispensary heroing cocktail deities to the lamb shank pies served over it.

A genuinely democratic, first-come, first-served door policy makes this one of those bars you could meet, well, just about anyone, really. Hipster creatives, dressed up business folk and, yes, the old bloke who lives just down the road, mingle happily. Stubbies in coolers fly across the bar at the same time as classically influenced cocktails.

The short cocktail list majors on an inventive and impressive set of Boilermakers, pairing, for example, Ardbeg with a fine craft porter. But the cocktails are great too, the barkeeps know their stuff and owners Anton Forte and Jason Scott, both bartenders, fully deserved the 2011 Time Out Sydney Best Bar Award.

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