Dylan Howarth and Jason Crawley are by no means strangers to the international bar scene. Crawley has slung suds with the best of them both locally and abroad, most recently at Merivale’s Hemmesphere as well as the Grand Pacific Blue Room, and after 30 years behind the stick, he’s finally decided to open a place of his very own with industry heavy-weight Dylan Howarth, cofounder of The Drink Cabinet and curator of the Mixxit Chronicles. You’re in good hands at Fortunate Son.
The bar is conveniently located opposite the Enmore Theatre, and the vibe is one that balances being both novel and familiar, drawing on all the elements of a great local dive whilst still injecting just a few new twists. The result is an unpretentious haunt for good times, great music and exceptional drinking. It feels effortlessly cool, with a custom made Jack Daniels sign, 300 bottle strong back bar, and, of course, more than a few Creedence tracks filling the air. Old school service and a clear obsession with quality make this drinkery as good for a mid-week date as a weekend knees up, and with only a dozen or so vinyl stools lining the dark wood bar you get a sense of intimacy without feeling crowded.
There are two cocktails lists here. One is the classics, AKA the 'Fortunate Ones', which have stood the test of time. There's an Old Pal (essentially a Negroni with dry vermouth rather than sweet, and rye instead of gin), and a Mint Julep (sugar, mint, bourbon – bonza!). Alternatively, have a crack at house specials from the 'Favourite Sons', a list of originals like an Espresso Martini riff made with cold brew coffee and tequila shaken hard over ice and presented with a satisfying crema (a hell of a way to get buzzed and buzzy) or the ‘Stout & Sons’, a creamy and smooth concoction of warming Christmassy spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom paired with the rich bitterness of dark beer.
The back bar is an ode to experience. You’ve got hand-selected hooch from all over the world: a rare Monkey 47 gin from Germany; Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal, named for the Mexican village 6,000 feet above sea level in which it’s made; and enough premium American bourbon to kill a buffalo. A seriously good wine list ranges from small-batch natural Australian wines to casual bottles of Dom Perignon. Pair your fancy bubbles with a 'fancy hotdog', a beef or plant based snag served with pickles, peppers and potato chips for $14.
In a town where American-style saloons and whiskey bars are as commonplace as trackwork on your train line, it might seem like a bold move to open another, especially so close to Inner West institutions like Earl’s Juke Joint and The Midnight Special. But this Fortunate Son is not following any one trend, but rather embracing, wholeheartedly, all the things that make a good bar good: warm service, cold drinks, great chat and a killer soundtrack. And that makes us the fortunate ones.