May 2023 update:
Just like its past life as an opium dealership, a boot-making studio, a doctor's surgery, and a boarding house, the Doss House plays host to a stylish suite of spaces and events. The heritage, underground bar has come full circle and is once again under the ownership of Ciara Doran (one of the two original founders), as part of the newly launched, female-led Heritage House Co hospitality group.
The Doss House enters this new era with a selection of signature cocktails for the cooler months, including the $100 Grand Doss with Macallan Sherry Oak whisky, house blend bitters and raw sugar; the vibrant Wexford Creamery with Finlandia vodka, strawberry, biscuit and cream; and the elegant Hallion with Benriach 10 Peated, Tia Maria, Lillet Blanc and De Bortoli Black Noble. These new cocktails sit alongside one of Sydney’s most robust selections of whiskies, as well as multiple whiskey flights.
Whether you’re a whiskey connoisseur or simply curious about Sydney’s spirited heritage, the Doss House also hosts an array of events including a monthly whiskey masterclass with whiskey enthusiast London Purvis and a History Through Whiskey tour with Sydney crime historian Max Burns-McRuvie where you’ll delve into fascinating tales of the Rocks while sampling four whiskies and enjoying a shared platter of nibbles.
Read on for our review of the Doss House from 2019.
By David Matthews
Open a business in the Rocks, and it’s pretty much a guarantee of heritage sandstone and regular tourist trade. The trick at the Doss House has been to tap into the local history (in past lives this bar was a hospital, an opium den and a bootmaker, and they make no secret of it) while bringing something to the area that attracts Sydney natives as well as the travellers.
That something is whisky – a lot of it. Take a spin through the maze of stone walls and you might spot a couple sinking into a Chesterfield or a velvet booth, one sipping a Sazerac made with Rittenhouse Rye, the other nursing a Dusky Scotchman, where ten-year-old Laphroaig and Branca Menta are complemented by a lick of honey and a dash of salt.
Step up to the bar, and it’s flights touring the Highlands, Lowlands and Isles of Scotland, exploring Japan or travelling the world with stops in Taiwan, France and India. Stay local, and Melbourne-made Starward Wine Cask Malt kicks off the entry level while Sullivans Cove Small Batch French Oak caps off the top end. It all makes good drinking with some cheese and cured meats, and the House delivers, with boards featuring things both simple (Brie, cheddar) and ambitious (kangaroo prosciutto).
So what is it about the Doss House that made it the overwhelming favourite for this year’s People’s Choice Award? We reckon it’s about being approachable and niche all at once in a space that complements a storied past with some equally storied drinking. In our eyes, and yours, it’s a full house.