On any cold night in Orange, walking along the aptly named Summer Street, there’s a glass-doored haven waiting to warm you from the inside out. As soon as you enter, taking note of the tiled mosaic as you cross the threshold, you’ll find a dimly lit passage of a room, where a taxidermy deer head stares at you and a bearded, walking mural of a man waits behind the timber bar. With a final swig of his beer, he comes over and offers you the warmth of whiskey.
Walking into Washington and Co, you may be reminded of your favourite small bar in Sydney. Inspired by the American whiskey movement of the late 1700s, the bar pays homage to George Washington himself. He, along with his Scottish farmhand, established a distillery, which quickly became the most successful of its kind in America.
Owner and manager, Scott Mileto, spent years bartending and running establishments on the east coast, and it’s this wealth of experience he has brought home with him to Orange. Washington and Co is home to more than 100 rotating whiskeys, craft beers, local wines and a rotating cocktail list. It’s the ethos of the venue to keep things fresh, and Scott and the crew evolve their offering weekly.
At the fore front of this offering is a wide range of whiskey from around the world. Lovers of the grain spirit will always find something new, as the team works hard to source whiskeys from all corners. From the hard-to-acquire Japanese spirits, to limited cask releases and Tasmania’s nest showings, the constantly changing back bar will take you on a long and winding whiskey journey.
If you’re fortunate, you’ll happen across the bar during the Washington and Co Bartender Exchange. One of Scott’s original ideas, Washington and Co plays host to a visiting bartender, who brings with them a fresh cocktail list and leaves their own unique stamp on the establishment.
For lovers of all things local, here you’ll find a locally sourced wine list, fruit and produce, along with a strong showing of local art and culture. Each month an artist exhibits in the bar, and live musicians and bands appear twice a week.
All of these elements contribute to Washington and Co’s friendly, laidback and relaxed atmosphere – an approach that also applies to the design of the space. Dotted with bits and pieces found in op-shops and accents of recycled wood, it feels halfway between a Western saloon and a roadside diner, the perfect combination for a relaxed, American cocktail bar.
Whether you want a quiet drink, a rowdy night with mates, or to learn more about your booze, Washington and Co has got you covered. Ask Scott about his favourite whiskey, settle in for some banter and he’ll probably join you for a cheeky dram.