Have you heard about the new whiskey bar in Sydney — the one in a historic building in The Rocks? That’s literally underground? Yes indeed — that’s The Doss House.
The location: right on George Street in The Rocks, in a building built in the 1840s. Enter via an unassuming door, walk through a hallway, past sandstone walls hewn out of local quarries, and down a set of wooden stairs. There, the wonderful bar that is The Doss House will enchant you. Whiskey, wine, food and music — it’s all there, with a warm welcome from the Irish owners.
The Plus Ones enjoyed an introduction to The Doss House’s offerings at a special media event. Taking a trip through the bar’s history, we got to explore the food and beverage offerings whilst under the guidance of The Rocks’ official historian and archaeologist.
The Doss House has properly leaned into its historic heritage. The front of their menu explains that it was The Unwin Stores in 1843, then a boarding house, an opium dealer, a bootmakers’, and a doctor’s office. (Plus, this Yank was pleased to learn, a bar called The American Arms.) And what about the bar’s modern name? A ‘doss house’ is a cheap boarding house where people could sleep for a night for a few shillings.
Co-owners (and old school friends from Ireland) Colm O’Neill and Eoin Daniels have leaned into the historical perfection of the building. The four rooms — and outdoor courtyard bounded by fireplaces — each have their own character. They’re all masterfully decked out with custom cabinetry by Daniels’ business, Top Knot Carpentry and Joinery. The main bar area beautifully displays the 150+ bottles of whiskey, which The Plus Ones’ head Food & Beverage writer, Orlaith, was thrilled to see included some of her favourite brands, such as Glendalough (along with her nemesis, poitín).
The night we visited, we were treated to a cocktail off The Doss House’s curated cocktail list (think: Old Fashioneds along with a Pisco Sour). The antique-filled Bootmaker’s Workshop room played host to a mini whiskey tasting along with a chat with The Rocks’ historian about the rich tapestry of lives that were interconnected with this building.
Next, we were ushered into Ung Quoy’s Den. Bar manager Colm O’Neill explained how, when he discovered that the building was once an opium den, he wanted to showcase that story. Take a peek into one of the air shafts and you’ll spy a genuine opium pipe.
With a platter from the charcuterie counter — including whiskey-soaked cheese and smoked wallaby — we dove into the wines. As if the extensive whiskey collection isn’t enough, all of their wines are sourced to have minimal baddies (egg whites, sulphides) and maximum taste. I was thrilled they’re showcasing emerging female winemakers from the Young Gun of Wine competition.
If you fancy a craft beer, cider, or wine, The Doss House has you covered there as well. And of course, as with any bar helmed by Irishmen, a proper pour of Guinness isn’t hard to get.
Everything about The Doss House is perfect: the location, the fit-out, the drinks, the hospitality. I can see it turning into a classic Sydney venue for years to come. With plans for whiskey tastings and sea shanty singalongs, The Doss House is going to become the must-visit bar in The Rocks. Quick — head there now so you can say you knew about it from the very beginning!
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa will be returning to The Doss House with every one of her Sydney friends. Follow her adventures on her Instagram.
The Doss House
77-79 George St
The Rocks, NSW 2000