A 26-square-metre bar should feel small, but Alleyway doesn’t. It spills out into a triangular courtyard bordered by dramatic, storeys-high brick walls and makes ingenious use of the space it has. For example, recycled fruit crate shelves lined with bottles of spirits are level with smoky mirrors that create a panorama of the entire bar.
There are no signs on the street. A set of stairs on George Street leads down to the courtyard, and Alleyway’s high tables and stools are to the right.
For a small venue, Alleyway is adept at keeping things fresh. There are 75 whiskies on the shelves, which change constantly. Once the bottle is empty, it’s replaced with something new. The team is serious about whisky and discusses tasting notes before serving.
Although whisky is the dominant spirit on Alleyway’s menu, the bar also features gin, tequila and mezcal, and a variety of natural wines. Many cocktails riff on traditional drinks. There’s the Matcha Gimlet which is made with matcha green tea syrup and Brookies Byron Bay gin, and the Peruvian-style pisco sour made with a fig twist.
The food offering is simple, prepared in the tiny back kitchen or at Alleway’s sister cafe, Avenue, upstairs at George Street level. There’s charcuterie; cheeses such as ash-washed brie; and caramelised chicken wings.