Jolene’s Nashville inspired Whisky Bar should make Dolly Parton proud

“Dude, at the end of the day I am here for you and here for it all, if I have the ingredients for it, I will make it”… These are the words and attitude which flows from the insanely talented team behind the bar and Sydney’s newest whisky bar and live music venue – Jolene’s.

Whisky- Nashville- country music- basement bar, oh and then add Sydney CBD. This isn’t normally a combo of ingredients where you would expect a classy establishment, but it is. The crowds on this Friday night show that it’s tapping into something Sydney just doesn’t have yet.

The old Mojo Record Bar site has been transformed whilst keeping a nod to its legacy thanks to co-owner Peter Fischer (NOLA Smokehouse and Bar, The Swinging Cat) and cocktail den head honcho Simon Rose-Hopkins (Surly’s American Tavern, NOLA Smokehouse & Bar, Webster’s bar, former Bacardi whiskey brand ambassador).

It’s a voluptuous place. We are greeted with a welcoming sign ‘Jack lives Here’, and walk down the length of the room, past round candlelight tables which have a front row seats to a stage graced by a piano and electric guitar duo who are doing a sound check. Sumptuous curved, red padded booths are individually graced with a framed photo of a music icon. High tables ensure those at the naughty end of the room don’t miss out on the action of the stage or the cocktails shaking shenanigans at the bar (which was formerly the old record store desk!)

We pull up a plush, padded teal green high chair to the bar. Co-owner Simon is charming. A total rad dude with an encyclopaedic knowledge of his art which includes 140 or so whiskies. He oozes passion – for his time spent in the US, his knowledge and southern hospitality warmth. This is a guy you really want to be your bestie. We have to shout it out to this crew, they bounce off each other, compliment each other, many of them have worked together over the years, it’s a genuine and rare experience to see a bar team be in love with their work, their craft and customers.

Country as Fuck – excuse our language its pretty darn good!

With a cocktail list such as Trash Panda, Country as Fuck and Coyote Ugly expect the unexpected. CAF looks like a tequila sunrise, complete with a kitch palm tree cocktail umbrella but its a fun blend of Old Forester Bourbon, blackberry and lemon, topped with sweet tea & garnished with fresh mint. Delish. We abandon the menu and set the boys on a mission as they mix up new creations based on input of whiskies and flavour profiles we love. Angles Envy is a rare drop and the team are great at letting us sniff our way through the southern states as we fall in love with a rare finished Rye in the series.

We quarterback up drinks with a short bar menu (to be expanded soon). Our pick of the night were the Mac n Cheese croquettes, golden crumbed, oozy nuggets of bar snack love with a BBQ sauce. We order two, they are so good. Tater tots, well – they do the job. The only other option are the dogs – veal or pork. Then choose your size – mini or normal hot dog. The baby ones are definitly superior, each bite has the perfect blend of soft sweet bun, dog, mustard, ketchup and fried onions all served in a blue check serviette.

It’s nearly 10pm and the hours have flown by. The music, atmosphere, eclectic people watching, drinks and something we haven’t felt in some time. An instant love and connection to a beautiful space which makes you feel happy, and at home the more time you spend there.

Jolenes, Basement Level 73 York Street Sydney, 2000
Opening hours: Wed & Thurs 4pm – midnight, Fri & Sat 4pm – 2am, Sun 4pm – late  (Live Music currently Fri/Sat nights)

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


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