The Doss House opens in The Rocks

20 March, 2018 by Tam Allenby

A new whisky bar, tucked into the sandstone depths of one of Sydney’s oldest suburbs The Rocks, has opened its doors.

With an opening collection of around 150 whiskies from Australia, Scotland, Ireland, Japan and America, whisky takes centre stage at The Doss House, a unique basement bar with an eclectic history; former tenants include a bootmaker, boarding house and opium dealer, which have all been entwined within the interior of each of the five cosy bar spaces.

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Signature cocktails such as The Dusky Scotchman (Laphroaig 10yo, Branca Menta, honey, saline), Blackberry & Lemon Myrtille Fizz (blackberry-infused Stolichnaya, lemon myrtille, fresh lemon, Cynar), and My Name is Earl (Earl Grey-infused gin, peach aperitif, orange marmalade, fresh lemon, basil) sit alongside a selection of classic cocktail favourites.

Accompanying the drinks are a handful of sharing platters, which all feature a selection of pickles, chutney, cheese and meat. Of particular note is the Aussie platter, which features the likes of emu prosciutto and kangaroo salami alongside damper and Australian cheeses.

The Doss House is co-owned by school friends and Irish expatriates Colm O’Neill and Eoin Daniels (pictured below); the latter’s other business, Top Knot Carpentry and Joinery, has fitted out venues including Opera Bar, The Clock Hotel, and The Golden Sheaf. Another of Colm’s school friends, Bobby Carey (Big Poppa’s, Shady Pines) has consulted on the menu, along with bar manager Alex O’Brien (Bar No. 5, Archie Rose).

O’Neill, Daniels and Carey originate from Waterford, Ireland and the trademark Waterford Crystal can be found throughout the venue as glassware and decanters.

“Our company Top Knot has been involved in the fit out of some of Sydney’s best hospitality venues, so we relished in the opportunity to bring this building to life,” says Daniels.

“Understandably, we couldn’t touch the walls or ceilings, all the bars and cabinets had to be free-standing and we had to insert a protective layer over the floors but during the process we have retained the character and original feel of the building.

“You just have to take one look at those gorgeous sandstone walls and you want to create something around them that does justice to their beauty.”

O’Neill has also relished the opportunity of building a bar in the historical treasure trove that is The Rocks.

“My favourite type of bar is one that you can find a cosy nook in, or a little bar you can sit up at and have a chat, with a tidy collection of drinks to choose from and with a smile,” he says. “The reality is there’s some great bars in Sydney that already do that well.

“What makes our experience a little special is the fact you have this rare opportunity to choose a whisky from one of Australia’s finest producers or one of the best from abroad and enjoy it in a space that has this rich history attached to the walls unlike anywhere else. The building is steeped in stories you’d expect to hear from your granny; old and romantic.”