From spicy Sunday tipples, to long and fun Saturday night spritzes, to the more serious natured mixes that might suit after work drinks, we Perthlings have no shortage of choice when it comes to good cocktails.
It’s tempting to stick to your favourites—martinis, gin and tonics, espresso martinis and margaritas certainly are delicious, and there’s no shortage of them in this list—but the best thing about visiting true cocktail bars is putting your trust in those over the counter.
Clear your palettes, people, there are cocktails to drink. Here are 25 places to sip on or slurp up Perth’s best cocktails.
The trusty local that needs no introduction, Strange Company has been shaking and stirring some of Perth’s best cocktails for a while now. Those who love sour flavours must try The Aficionado; tequila, maraschino, pink grapefruit, lime and Peychauds bitters make for a cherry pop in the mouth. Their menu also features ‘fresh’, ‘fruity’, ‘bittersweet’ and ‘rich’ cocktails, so you can choose by taste!
The real highlight of 399 Bar is the flexibility of those tending it. They’ll customise anything from your martini—the lychee rendition is seriously good—to your Old Fashioned. Plus, they are literally at the ready to make anything sour, with an assortment of spirits, juices, citrus flavours and sugars. Don’t forget your egg whites—there’s nothing like a foamy top to a sour tipple.
For something relaxed, refreshing and delicious, try anything off Lot Twenty's cocktail menu. The Menta as Anything is (though it might not sound it) a safe bet—dark rum, Branca Menta, ginger beer, biters, lime and mint. It’s simply refreshing and deeply flavoursome at the same time.
Step into someone’s mumma’s house in America’s deep south with Alabama Song's Redneck Lemonade Jugs—they’re perfect for steamy evenings that build up a thirst, which are bound to occur in this honky-tonk, rocking late-night bar. If you like whisky, order anything and you’ll be happy. If you don’t, same goes.
We are tempted to crown El Publico's Tommy’s Margarita the best cocktail in Perth. There’s no kerfuffle needed here—these are delicious, it’s that simple. They are so good, you could drink fifty. Forget the tacos. Just order Tommy’s Margaritas and slurp until your heart’s content. We don’t know what else is on the menu—we have eyes only for Tommy’s.
El Publico | Image credit: Nancy Hanna
Mechanics Institute has a well-earned reputation for good cocktails. The bartenders are fun and accommodating, but with a cocktail list that changes regularly, they’re also creative and passionate about bringing their best. The house cocktail is the only thing that stays the same: the Hillbilly Bob Ruckus Juice. It stays the same for a reason… it’s flipping delicious.
Varnish On King
This shiny jewel on King Street gets into your list of favourites and never leaves. They’ve got a thing for whisky, so you’re best off sticking true to that with something like the Manhattan—take it sweet, ‘perfect’ or dry—which is made with whisky, vermouth and bitters, and garnished with flair based on what’s fresh. Or, go for something off their ‘not so classic’ list, like the King Street Swizzle.
No matter the occasion (and this place is suitable for any!) look no further than Henry Summer's Coco Kafe. Colombian coffee, rum, vanilla and coconut foam combine to create the perfect cocktail! Otherwise, go for the Pineapple Pop, it’s teaming with tropical vibes—pineapple, tequila, ginger and bubbles—and will transport you straight to an island somewhere in your imagination.
La Vida Urbana
La Vida Urbana isn’t all tacos and guac, guys, and it’s not just its parent-venue El Publico reimagined in a different suburb, either. That wall of tequila and mezcal isn’t there for nothing; the cocktails are gooooood. Grab a Red Cafe (kind of their take on a Negroni) or a Carajillo, which is a Spanish cocktail of coffee and Licor 43, Spain’s smooth drinking, vanilla infused liqueur.
Putting their own spin on a whole host of prohibition era classics is Alter Ego, your fave Mantle haunt. The Hola Quila—tequila, pineapple juice, smoked plum and coconut syrup—is an Alter Ego speciality but if that doesn't sound like your kind of drink, just trawl the menu until something pops out at you! The handy little taste tips at the bottom of each item make life easy.
Alter Ego | Image credit: Elle Borgward
It mightn’t have the longest cocktail list in the world, but Peaky Bodega sure knows how to serve up a delicious drink that tops your dining experience right off. Go for the Midtown Mule (anything with Fever Tree ginger beer has to be good) or the Bodega Negroni, ‘cos, negronis.
While the ‘sneaky cocktail’ jokes are just too obvious to go there, the actual cocktails served up at this joint are too darn good not to. The house cocktails are on fire (try the Mama Knows Best), but if you’re popping in for a once off, try whatever they’re calling the Cocktail of the Week.
Anywhere with a menu dedicated to Bloody Mary’s makes the list for us. Enter: The Shorehouse. Their Bloody Mary’s are all $15, but beware: they progress in spiciness from left to right, and the Howling Mary doesn’t get its name for nothing (it contains something called ‘death sauce’ and habanero vinegar). The mustardy Red Snapper is a good mid-range option! Also, don’t forget to check the Gin Tönica concoctions, and the more ‘beachy’ cocktails can be found under ‘Something Else’—think coconut, pineapple and passionfruit.
Swallow Bar is a quaint and classy little neighbourhood joint that’s an ode to Art Deco Paris, with relentless attention to detail and quality. The cocktail list is no exception. Settle in out the back for an afternoon Swallow Island Iced Tea—it’s seriously boozy, and the addition of Chinotto adds a delightful twist. Or, hide away in one of the refurbished 1920’s train-seat booths with one of their gin or vodka martinis—get it dry, dirty or sweet with olives or a twist. The cocktail list is rounded out with nostalgic goodies like the Old Fashioned, the Americano and the Peach Bellini.
If you haven't managed to get to Market Grounds yet you're doing life wrong. These guys do special cocktails from time to time—remember their pavlova smash for Australia Day and that Easter cocktail which was served in an actual Easter egg?—but don't worry, things are just as exciting when it comes to their regular cocktail menu. Their bloody beetroot is a must try—smoked vodka, beetroot, mascarpone, lemon, Tabasco and salt—and their entire gin tonica menu is a thing of beauty.
Market Grounds | Image credit: Elle Borgward
We all know that Lucky Chan’s makes some damn good ramen, but it wouldn’t be half the place it is without the rocking, wall-long bar. Ask the bartenders to fix you something inventive—they’ve no shortage of ideas—and you might get something in the way of a Bubble Tea cocktail (delicious) or something made from Japanese whisky (delicious-er). Have trust, people.
While you might not have thunk it, Canteen Pizza does more than just pizza. In fact, their pizza would be nothing without the accompanying drinks menu (we take it back, their pizza is everything). But seriously, their Seasonal Spritz’s go down an absolute treat. Check the menu for full details of what exactly is ‘seasonal’, but the delicious part is pretty much a guarantee.
Sweetwater Rooftop Bar
Not holding back on the creativity is Sweetwater Rooftop Bar, East Freo’s sixth story rooftop venue. Make it interesting and go for the Kafirs for Tears, which combines tequila, Lillet Blanc, kafir lime, apple and chilli. Back that up with the Hola at Me, another tequila mix, this one long and stirred with fig, lime and ginger beer—it’s fresh, punchy, sweet and a little bit sour all at once.
Late Night Valentine
You can’t really go wrong at Late Night Valentine, but if you’re a fan of classic cocktails, go for the Hotel Crusta. The place might not scream traditional, but the bartenders are serious about their hospitality; the proof is in the Crusta. If you’re rolling in for a dance, just ask the crew to whip you up something fun and tasty—they’re constantly working on new menu items and might surprise, but won’t ever disappoint.
Frisk Small Bar
One of Northbridge’s favourite small bars, Frisk sure does shake up a darn tasty tipple. Go for the Charlie Chaplin, a delicious concoction of sloe gin, apricot brandy and lemon juice for something berry-based but perfectly balanced. The White Lady is also a hit, or try one of the gin martinis.
Frisk | Image credit: Nancy Hanna
We know there are some good espresso martinis going around (seriously, this list is out of control), but The Moon's take on this favourite is indescribably good. ‘The Black Hole’—a name that can only be classified as a self-fulfilling prophecy—takes vodka, vanilla liqueur, coffee, Kahlua, chocolate and salt, and turns it into pure liquid bliss.
Apple Daily Bar And Eating House
Home to a 79-page strong drinks list, Apple Daily is sure to have a cocktail that’ll take your fancy. Grab any of the classics from something short and hard to something long and slurpable, or if you’re up for it, opt for something slightly less traditional; they are making liquid creations out of liquor from all over the world, including sake and Taiwanese whisky (some of it’s even made in-house!).
One of Perth’s original laneway bars and still going strong, Ezra Pound has a firm focus on quality cocktails and a very eclectic glassware collection to drink them from. The staff are knowledgeable and seriously genuine, and the place is comfortable enough to stay for quite a few ‘surprise me’ cocktails.
Choosing from Laneway Lounge's list of seventeen cocktails isn’t easy, but stress not: they’re all good. Hot tip: the Laneway Dark and Stormy is one our fair city’s best, made with house-made raw ginger beer, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Spicy! Also, the Smoked Chocolate Sazerac might sound slightly overwhelming, but it’s incredibly delicious, luxurious, and seriously unique.
Saving perhaps the longest cocktail list to dissect for last, Bar Lafayette offers more than 40 expertly crafted cocktails. The menu is laid out so as to assist you in ordering: from options designed to stimulate the appetite and set the mood, to those hall-of-famers that can’t be refused, right down to hard, rested concoctions for refined palettes. We reckon the Pearfectioned is more than deserving of it’s name, and the modern-classic Penicillin is done so well here it hurts. But seriously, just drain your bank account and hand it all over in exchange for a taste of everything; we can’t decide!
Bright Tank Brewing Co
Of all the weird and wacky combos we’ve seen, beer cocktails takes the cake. That's right, Bright Tank Brewing Co has somehow managed to combine beer and spirits in a way that makes the palate dance. If you’re feeling adventurous, give the Tropical F Storm a go—a sensational blend of IPA, Montenegro, moonshine and juice!
Want more? Check out these Perth bars you should have been to.
Sweetwater Rooftop Bar | Image credit: Elle Borgward