Our hit list of the best Old Fashioned venues across Australia
You just can’t beat a great Old Fashioned, right? It’s a classic; simple yet sophisticated. Although there have been many variations to this cocktail over the last 200 years, the original recipe is still known as one of the most popular cocktails in the world. We’re big fans of an Old Fashioned, especially when it’s enjoyed at one of these tried and trusted bars. Not only do these spots nail them, but they also provide a buzzing atmosphere, inviting spaces, incredible service and great bites.
Nick & Nora’s Melbourne
When you walk up the dimly-lit stairs of Nick and Nora’s off Colin’s Street you’re immediately transported into the 1930s and taken aback by its opulent interiors. There’s no shortage of theatrical libations, in fact, this popular venue is renowned for its clever cocktails often steeped in dry ice, lit on fire or just generally presented in a way that’s entertaining. For a cocktail bar, it’s not messing around – it can seat up to 240 people across five separate rooms and three balconies, whilst still having plenty of dark nooks, making it feel mysterious and intimate. The bartenders at Nick and Nora’s love stirring up an Old Fashioned, so make sure to tell them what you’re after when they lean over the bar and ask, “What’ll it be?”.
Location: 80 Collins Street via, 11 Benson Walk, Melbourne VIC 3000
Creative concoctions are what Curious Bar does best. Amongst good company on Flinders Lane, this late-night haunt (which is part of the W Melbourne hotel) seamlessly blends music programming, cocktails and small bites. It’s a subterranean cocktail bar that immediately makes you feel cosy thanks to the dark timber beams that line the walls and ceiling. The cocktail list is extensive and inspired by three distinct facets of Melbourne: coffee (think a St Ali-spiked Espresso Martini), fashion and art (there’s a gin cocktail that features an illustration of Andy Warhol). The standout for us is their Birdman Rally cocktail; a twist on the classic Old Fashioned, it’s made with Starward Two-Fold, fig aperitif and Adelaide Hills bitter orange.
Location: 408 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
NEW SOUTH WALES:
Situated in Surry Hills you’ll find The Rover; a newly revamped with a refreshed menu, focused on seafood – think fish-finger rolls, freshly shucked oysters and even caviar, for the fancy diner. We also can’t go past the eel pâté, horseradish jelly and glazed crumpet – a modern take on a traditional East London dish dating back to the 18th century. The Rover is the perfect moody den to enjoy a bite, seafood or otherwise, and of course a nice cocktail. The team of bartenders love nothing more than slinging drinks and dreaming up new flavour combinations. And of course, you can’t go past The Rover’s Old Fashioned – made with Starward Two-Fold, Braulio Amaro, salted maple and bitters.
Location: 75 Campbell St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
This old-timey venue is inspired by post-World War II in Europe – you’ll spot a variety of military paraphernalia on display, including a large painting of Kittyhawks (a fighter aircraft). Take your pick from a leather booth or a seat in the stately front conservatory with city views when you arrive, and then turn your attention to the cocktail list. When we say the team at Kittyhawk love Old Fashioned’s, we mean it! They have an entire list dedicated to them which features 10 different interpretations of the original recipe. Be sure to pop in during their ‘Liberation Hour’, where you can grab a house Old Fashioned for only $12.
Location: 16 Phillip Ln, Sydney NSW 2000
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY:
Down a sleek modern corridor, you’ll find this super cool cocktail bar in Braddon boasting over 450 whiskies. It’s giving post-Prohibition, New York-style vibes with whisky bottle-lined walls, deep green leather chesterfields and candlelit lighting. You’ll immediately want to find a spot, order a cocktail and soak up the live jazz. It’ll come as no surprise that Volstead Repeal does a killer Old Fashioned, but they also serve Boilermakers and some other classic drinks like a Gunpower Gimlet and Painkiller. There’s pizza and charcuterie boards to keep hunger at bay, too.
Location: Shop 7/32 Mort St, Braddon ACT 2612
This charming little speakeasy is situated in the heart of Canberra and promises expertly crafted cocktails, effortlessly cool vibes and a generous serving of jazz. If you’re a hardcore whisky lover, you may enjoy one of the many masterclasses the team at Molly put on. Otherwise, you’ll also feel right at home pulling up a stool at the bar with an Old Fashioned hand. Look for the wooden door and the rest is up to you.
Location: Wooden Door, Odgers Ln, Canberra ACT 2601
Fun fact about The Gresham: it’s the only remaining pub in Queensland with a heritage license. Admire the building’s elegant limestone walls, polished furniture and framed pictures – all of which are a reminder that the building has been standing since 1885. The cocktail list is extensive, and an everchanging blackboard offers suggestions for boilermakers (beer and whisky pairings) which frequently includes beer from local brewers. With over 200 whiskies on offer from across the pond and locally, you know the Old Fashioned here is going to knock your socks off.
Location: 308 Queen St, Brisbane City QLD 4000
Cobbler West End
There are so many bottles of spirits at Cobbler cocktail bar it needs its own sliding ladder to access more than 400 whiskies from around the world, along with a smaller – but still impressive – range of tequila, rum and liqueur. Malted spirits are Cobbler’s schtick: scotch, bourbon, Japanese, Irish, Australian, Indian, Taiwanese, American single malt, you name it! Their seasonal cocktail list is impressive and imaginative, with a focus on modern twists of the classics. Speaking of the classics, their Old Fashioned is really something. We suggest perching on one of the regal-looking chairs that line the bar and watching the bartenders work their magic.
Location: 7 Browning St, West End QLD 4101
NOLA is a fun bar that channels the New Orleans way of living. Think cajun fried chicken, chicken bacon, rabbit gumbo and salted cod acras (fritters) on the food menu and many, many bottles of whisky to choose from (over 350 FYI). The team at NOLA are all about maintaining a balance of old favourites and the experimental releases; they offer whiskies from all over the world plus some notable local drops that will go perfectly in an Old Fashioned. Try a New Orleans-inspired cocktail or draught beer while you’re there too.
Location: 28 Vardon Ave, Adelaide SA 5000
Hiding underground in an old bank vault is Foxtrot Unicorn, a dimly-lit sanctuary packed to the rafters with up-cycled materials and vintage WA hospitality history. This is where some of Perth’s most awarded bartenders reside – and they’re obsessed with finding the best produce from near and far. The Honeycomb Old Fashioned is a hero, and there are plenty of other cocktails to wet your whistle organised by group (classics, highballs, native, alcohol-free). You can even sample rare vintage spirits and, for those feeling adventurous, ask to have classic drinks made with these liquid time capsules. Did someone say an Extra Dirty Martini with 1950s gin? Their toasties are off the charts too.
Location: 101 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000
A sleek bar in Freemantle's west end that’s open all day and late into the night, Strange Company is a crowd favourite, and for good reason, too. Work your way through its novel-length drinks list (or skip straight to the Old Fashioned, whatever floats your boat) and enjoy a solid selection of tapas. Be sure to pop in and enjoy some live jazz on a Sunday and get amongst this lively, modern bar bringing a vibrant buzz to Fremantle's nightlife.
Location: 5 Nairn St, Fremantle WA 6160
Void Bar at Museum Of Old and New Art
Approximately seventeen metres underground in Australia’s largest privately owned museum (aka MONA) you’ll find Void Bar. Void Bar’s answer to a classic Old Fashioned is their Fancy Free cocktail which is made with Starward Two-Fold, maraschino and bitters. Also on the menu are wines from on-site Moorilla Estate along with the museum’s Moo Brews and plenty of pizza if all that old and new art is making you hungry.
Location: 655 Main Rd, Berriedale TAS 7011