With a focus on great food and fantastic functions, not to mention live music, an open fireplace and cocktail wizardry, it’s no wonder Timeout named our very own The Foxtrot Inn “top of the list of bars worth hitting north of the Bridge”.
When David and Kailey Antico took over The Foxtrot Inn in Crows Nest 18 months ago, they couldn’t have been better equipped to know exactly what the local area needed. David is a local himself, having grown up in Willoughby on McClelland Street. His name will also no doubt be familiar to many – his family owned the very successful and long-standing fruit and vegetable emporio, Antico’s, at Northbridge Plaza. David inherited a head for business and, after the sale of Antico’s, turned his attention to the hospitality industry. His experience includes stints at the Commodore Hotel in North Sydney, the Ashfield Hotel, the Universale Hotel in Leichhardt and Bar Luca in the CBD. When he and Kailey moved back into the area, they knew the lower North Shore was in desperate need of a great small bar. They searched for the perfect business to invest in, and when they heard that The Foxtrot Inn was for sale, the stars aligned and they became the owners in February 2016. Before long their expertise and enthusiasm managed to turn the place into an elusive mix of chic but cosy sophistication.
*David and Kailey Antico, the street signage for The Foxtrot Inn (middle), and Katie Thorne, one of the regular live music acts.
The Foxtrot originally opened in 2011, and had earned a reputation as a late night venue. While this remains important, the Anticos have worked hard to entice a broader demographic and create a more inclusive culture where patrons feel welcome much earlier in the night. As Kailey points out, “On any given night you could find a book club in one corner, a 40th function upstairs, uni students in another section and kindy mums in the dining room.” They made changes including minor refurbishments, new staff uniforms, and a new food menu. They even worked with a company to create a bespoke candle that gives The Foxtrot a distinct scent.
But one of the biggest overhauls that took place was of the cocktail menu. With a new team of amazing mixologists, the bar currently boasts over 30 bespoke cocktails with monikers including ‘Free Shmoke’ featuring whisky and black pepper, ‘Choco-Late Registration’ containing rum, Grand Marnier and dark chocolate, and ‘Burning Passion’ with gin, fresh passionfruit pulp and soda, among others. David explains that, at the start of each new season, he and his bar staff have a day at the bar where they bring their new cocktail creations to life. “The techniques they bring to the table are really something else – they will bring out the smokers, blenders, blazers…There is generally a marketplace of fruit and vegetables and rows and rows of spirits as they create and perfect their masterpieces.”
The team at the bar put on a great show creating these cocktails – it’s often hard to find a seat within viewing distance of the bar. But they aren’t the only ones on show. The Foxtrot is also becoming known as a live music venue (head in on a Thursday night to catch great local talent such as Katie Thorne), a function venue, as well as one of the North Shore’s only venues with an open fireplace to enjoy. David and Kailey are thrilled with the reception they’ve received. “The North Shore residents have really embraced The Foxtrot and the feedback we are getting is really positive, not only just about the cocktails and food, but about the “vibe”, the music, the bartenders…just the overall feel makes them want to keep coming back. One of the best comments we had lately, was that “The Foxtrot felt like coming home to an old friend’s house – warm and welcoming” – we love hearing stuff like that – it makes us feel like we are really doing a good job!”