Respecting your elders is very, very easy when the lessons they’re doling out are ‘how to have a good time without being a twat’ and the teacher is one of the best old boozers in Sydney. The Crix deserves a medal for its diplomatic skills that mean that a truly confusing cross section of drinkers are all happy to pal it up around this ancient, ancient bar.
On an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday we spy a table of retirees slowly adding chairs to their pod as new friends arrive. They’ve snagged the best seats in the house, right in front of the fireplace filled with glowing logs – those early birds really do get the sweet seats. Beside them are a set of Surry Hills creatives in sparkly work wear with a designer dog under the table, and up at the bar sits a pair of footy fans with a competing and much tinier pupper – a staffy puppy causing heart explosions all over the worn timber floors.
Through the doors comes a posse of skater punks who want a Grifter pale ale and a packet of chips out of the vending machine, and outside in the packed, open-air courtyard you’ve got women in climbing shoes and fellas with conscientiously unkempt beards. And you’d best believe every table either has a $15 steak and chips on it, or a $10 nachos – the Wednesday night special from the upstairs bistro.
Nope, you can’t set up a tab and there are strict minimums for eftpos – try the ATM in the bathroom corridor. They don’t seem to keen on updates here, mostly because they’ve never needed to. The ice is just as cold in that silver bucket as it would be in a fancy well and those brown tiles around the bar are still in pretty good nick.
They stick to the sessionable stuff on tap, but throw in the odd curveball to keep it interesting. Maybe you want to spend all night on the Great Northern lager, Tooth’s pale ale or the toasty but light-weight Grifter stout, but it’s fun to know you can mix it up with a Lost Boys beetroot ale. It’s called a Blood Red Ale, which is fitting for this unofficial Sydney Swans fanclub, and has an earthy flavour to anchor the root vegetable’s sweeter characters.
Sometimes a pub needs to embrace change in order to keep the lights on, but not the Crix. This legendary watering hole is perfect just that way it is.