When I hear the word saloon I immediately conjure up images of a set of swingin', wooden doors, creaking back and forth with a horse or three parked out the front. Shady Pines Saloon however, tucked in between a convenience store and sweat (read: bikram) yoga, the entry is behind American Apparel in Foley Street. It's entry is behind an ugly and discreet door and instead of horses it has hoards of bikes tied up in the alley as the hipsters and general peeps in the know get in on some of the best small bar action in the 2000 precinct.
It has been open for a number of months now but the honeymoon with Shady Pines is yet to end. One of the darlings of the Sydney small bar movement is still a fantastic place to get in on, cosy and atmospheric, walk through the ugly door at the front and you descend down into a basement of wooden fit outs, cute trinkets and taxidermy animals. It can get busy and don't be surprised if you have to wait out the front for a bit before they let you in; it's worth the wait.
The men behind the bar are straight up and polite, greeting you, offering you a menu and apologising that they can't serve you immediately should they be fixing up a mint julep or one of the other delicious cocktails on the menu (all $17).
To add to the charm of this place they hand out peanuts in the shell like they are going out of fashion, on the saloon! Free and charming, that's how they roll.
Their beer list is all bottles and cans. A fantastic beer from Manly, yes, Manly, called the 4 Pines ($8) is like mother's milk on my lips and something I'm going to keep my eyes open for. They have Samual Adams, Duvel and Coopers in a can to name but a few on their intriguing list. Their whisky and cocktail menu is solid and the moustache to face ratio is up there in this stayer of a bar.