Unveiling Sydney’s Secret American Whiskey Bars: Exploring the History and Origins of the Classic Cocktail, Old Fashioned

May 29, 2023

Welcome to a journey of uncovering the hidden treasures of Sydney’s American whiskey bars. Today we delve into the intriguing world of these secret establishments and immerse ourselves in the rich history and origins of the classic cocktail, Old Fashioned. Join us as we peel back the layers of Sydney’s vibrant bar scene and discover the allure of American whiskey bars, where tradition meets innovation and the art of mixology takes centre stage. So, raise your glass and let’s embark on this exciting exploration of Sydney’s secret American whiskey bars and the legendary Old Fashioned cocktail.

The Rise of American Whiskey Bars in Sydney

In recent years, Sydney has witnessed a significant rise in the popularity of American whiskey bars. These establishments have become havens for whiskey enthusiasts, offering an extensive selection of American whiskeys, cozy ambiance, and expertly crafted cocktails. One notable neighbourhood that has embraced the American whiskey trend is Barangaroo. With its trendy waterfront location, Barangaroo has become a hub for whiskey connoisseurs seeking a unique drinking experience. 

The French Quarter Lounge, Smokehouse, and back bar at NOLA is the perfect place to experience Sydney’s expansive selection of contemporary cocktails and whiskeys. From bourbons to ryes or even single malts, and more, our bar offers an impressive range that will satisfy even the most discerning connoisseur. Adjacent to the French Quarter Lounge is our restaurant bringing Sydney, a

Louisiana-inspired steakhouse.

The History and Origins of the Classic Cocktail, Old Fashioned

A simple yet sophisticated drink that is typically made with whiskey, bitters, sugar and a citrus twist, the Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that has stood the test of time. With roots firmly planted in American cocktail history, it’s a drink that has been around dating back to the late 19th century that is still enjoyed by cocktail enthusiasts today. 

Easy to make but difficult to master, The Old Fashioned cocktail comes with many variations and personal touches that can make it unique to each bartender or individual.

The Old Fashioned is a drink that has been enjoyed for generations, and its popularity shows no signs of fading away. The key to making the perfect Old Fashioned is to balance the flavours of the ingredients as well as the choice of whiskey. Some people prefer to use bourbon or rye whiskey, while others may opt for a fruitier twist by exploring the recipe with different sources of sugar and syrups. The bitters provide a spiced and slightly herbaceous flavour, while the sugar and citrus add sweetness and acidity. The whiskey provides the backbone of the drink, with its complex and robust flavour profile.

NOLA’s Bar Manager, Michael Mitchell, takes us through his experiences and expertise of the Old Fashioned cocktail as we explore its key ingredients and variations. He will also guide us through creating a classic Old Fashioned at home, as well as remixing his own recipe for you to try out. 

Michael: I’ve been working in the cocktail scene for 12 years, with a focus on whisky for the last 3. Needless to say, I came to love the Old Fashioned in all its forms. My first time making one was an absolute disaster trying to dissolve my sugar cube with too much bitters! Luckily, I prefer my whisky neat, so my favourite iteration is with Woodford Reserve Double Oaked infused with toasted oats, Woodford Chocolate Bitters, Honey, and Brown Sugar.”

To make the perfect Old Fashioned, it is important to use quality ingredients!

To create a classic Old Fashioned cocktail, you will need the following ingredients and tools:


  • 2 oz or 60mL whiskey (bourbon or rye)
  • 1 tsp or 10mL sugar syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 orange twist
  • Ice


  • Mixing glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Jigger
  • Strainer
  • Old Fashioned glass


  1. In a mixing glass, add sugar, bitters, and a splash of club soda (if using) and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add the whiskey and stir gently to combine.
  3. Add a large ice cube or a few smaller cubes to the mixing glass and stir gently for about 20 seconds to chill and dilute the drink.
  4. Strain the mixture into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice.
  5. Garnish with an orange twist by expressing the oils from the peel over the drink and then twisting it to release more flavour. Rub the twist around the rim of the glass and drop it into the drink.
  6. Enjoy your classic Old Fashioned cocktail!

The Allure of Sydney’s Whiskey Bars

In conclusion, our journey through Sydney’s American whiskey bars has been nothing short of extraordinary. We have uncovered the hidden gems that lie within the city’s bustling streets, where whiskey enthusiasts and cocktail lovers alike can indulge in a captivating experience. From the rise of American whiskey bars in Sydney to the captivating history and origins of the timeless Old Fashioned cocktail, we have witnessed the fusion of tradition, innovation, and the art of mixology.

Sydney’s American whiskey bars have become havens for those seeking a remarkable drinking experience. Whether it’s the trendy waterfront location of Barangaroo or the inviting ambiance of establishments like the French Quarter Lounge, Smokehouse, and back bar at NOLA, these bars offer an impressive selection of contemporary cocktails and whiskeys that cater to even the most discerning connoisseurs.

The Old Fashioned cocktail, with its simple yet sophisticated blend of whiskey, bitters, sugar, and citrus, has enchanted generations of cocktail enthusiasts. We have learned that mastering the perfect Old Fashioned requires a delicate balance of flavours and a choice of quality ingredients. It is a drink that has stood the test of time, offering endless possibilities for personalization and exploration.As we raise our glasses to Sydney’s secret American whiskey bars and the iconic Old Fashioned cocktail, let us toast to the rich heritage, enticing flavours, and the vibrant bar scene that make Sydney a true haven for whiskey lovers. So, whether you choose to explore the hidden gems or create your own Old Fashioned at home, may your journey be filled with discovery, delight, and a deep appreciation for the timeless charm of American whiskey and the art of mixology. If you want to try one of Michael’s Old Fashions, make a reservation with us today.