Hidden away in the basement of one of The Rocks, Sydney’s iconic 170-year-old sandstone buildings is a whisky bar to excite both connoisseurs and novices alike.
The Doss House draws inspiration from the rich history of the former tenants to tell their stories through a series of five distinct bar spaces.
Whiskies are the focus for the entire venue, with a collection of around 150 bottlings at the time of launch. The range, consisting of spirits from Australia, Scotland, Ireland, Japan and America, extends from everyday whiskies to extremely rare, premium bottlings such as Hibiki 30-year-old, Glenglassaugh 30-year-old, GlenDronach 1994 and the Nikka ‘Taketsuru’ Fortune 80. These top quality expressions are housed in a number of stunning bespoke oak cabinets throughout the bars.
There are also a few classic cocktails on offer as well as some signature creations, such as The Dusky Scotchman – Laphroaig 10yo, Branca Menta, honey and saline; the Blackberry & Lemon Myrtille Fizz – blackberry-infused Stolichnaya, lemon myrtle, fresh lemon, cynar; and the My Name is Earl – Earl Grey-infused gin, peach aperitif, orange marmalade, fresh lemon, basil.
With one of the bar’s co-owners also the owner of Top Knot Carpentry and Joinery (responsible for the fit-outs at Opera Bar, The Clock Hotel, The Old Claire and The Golden Sheaf), it’s no wonder the interiors feature many beautiful bespoke and antique pieces.
Upon entering, the first bar you encounter is Unwin’s Stores. This cosy yet vibrant space is named in honour of the building’s creator, Frederic Wright Unwin. The room still features the original fireplace and iron stove, alongside antique mirrors, an American oak scotch locker, high tables, stools and a piano, all of which combine to create the feel of a warm and inviting, colonial style bar.
Next comes The Dock Bar. Filled with backless American oak whisky cabinets, this space has been designed to evoke the watering holes once frequented by dockside merchants during the colony days.
From there, you’ll enter Ung Quoy’s Den, named after the eccentric Chinese tenant who once ran an opium den in the building. The intimate space is adorned with long banquettes clad in orange velvet, low tables and unique Chinese-themed knick-knacks, giving the bar a mysterious and intriguing vibe.
The Bootmaker’s Workshop follows, a space lined with bookshelves that have quirky shoe mouldings in their design. Take a seat on the antique chesterfield sofa or in one of the low leather armchairs and admire the original fireplace and the heritage sandstone walls.
Finally there is the Sailor’s Garden. Once an enclosed room, this space has been opened up into a courtyard seating area with soft light and a relaxed ambience.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard of a Sydney bar opening with so many unique spaces, so we thought we’d let you have a look for yourself.