I was out for drinks with colleagues the other night and one of the younger lads suggested we head to Shady Pines Saloon on account of the taxidermy they have used in this hidden bar and my "strong interest" in taxidermy and game in general... Shady Pines Saloon has a unique theme for a Sydney bar, totally, unmistakeably, American mid-west.
We were in Darlinghurst; we stepped off Oxford onto Crown Street - would you believe I was born a hundred yards from this very spot - and took a quick right down an anonymous alley. Yes, this is an inner-city trendy bar, it just happens to look like a cross between my gunroom and a shearing shed once you're inside. And I'm not trendy unless the measure of trendy is the distance between your two front teeth (I've had to have this chat with my girls already!). From the street, well, it looks... shady...
Through the invisible door as you move along the small landing and down the stairs to your right you can't help but notice the only feature that greets you when you enter - an old Wincherster Repeating Arms Company' sign - down the stairs, the timber and game heads and country music smack you hard enough to well and truly get you attention.Then you notice the beards. And more game heads. Then the mound of green apples on the bar. And still more game heads.
"This place is awesome!"
Like a kid in a candy shop... a shooter in a gunshop... I walked around the small bar, came back to the table we had claimed between a pair of banteng and a boar and grabbed one of the girls...
"Let me show you some of the animals... that's an Elk. Red Deer. Cape Griffon. Bison. That's a Texas Longhorn, so not a hunted animal. Water Buffalo, we have those here. Cape Buffalo, Africa, hunted them in 2009. Ring-Necked Pheasant. Black Bear. Red Fox. Mountain Lion. Caribou. Boobook Owl. Racoon. That's one of our feral pigs and Banteng, there's three of them here... they're a species of wild cattle that are endemic to India and parts of south east Asia... a domesticated form was brought to Australia in the 1800's. You can hunt them up at Coburg..."
I may have waffled some more, I can't really say, because I've skipped the bit about the whiskey and apple juice... and I'm pretty sure there were more animals there, but having come off a few Bulmers before we arrived and followed through with a couple of whiskeys with apple juice... remember the pile of apples on the bar? Whiskey and apple juice.
The night was rounded out with a few bottles of Bilpin Cider, a few Johnny Cash tracks, possibly hundreds of peanuts, and an emotional rendition of The Gambler. Other stuff may have happened, but to be honest, the best bits were the hunting trophies and lots of alcoholic apples and few other young blokes not afraid to carry a full beard!