There are a lot of ‘best’ lists out there, and when it comes to the bar scene in Perth, we’ve been culprits of failing to narrow them down just as much as the next person. But alas, it’s time to try. We’ve trawled through all the ‘best bars’ lists we’ve got, revisited some old favourites, rejogged, rejigged and refreshed our memories (and our palates) in order to bring you this slightly more refined list of the best spots to wet your whistle here in Perth.
From the shiny and new to the very, very well-worn, this list is dedicated to the spots that we think are the true keepers; those that we hope stay around for a long time (and a good time), or those that already have and show no signs of failure. The bars—not the pubs, or the restaurants-with-bars—that have soul, character and charm.
Here are some of the best bars in Perth to check out.
Wines of While
It hasn’t taken long for this newfound Perth staple to wind its way into our list of favourites—and we’re not alone. Natural wine bar and shop Wines of While is the one up the top end of William Street, packed with people day and night, Tuesday through Sunday. Once you’ve hustled a spot (the staff are very accommodating), this place provides the ultimate afternoon chills—sun streaming in through the front windows, lots of light, fun, natural wines and simple food on offer, and good community vibes to boot. This is one to write home about.
The honky-tonk country dive bar bringing the tastes and sounds of America’s deep south to Northbridge Social, Alabama Song makes it into our list of favourites thanks to their rock and rolling good times, live music, late nights and cheap wings. Whether you normally drink whiskey or not, you’ll definitely be swindled into trying something daring by the crew behind the bar and you’ll probably end up liking it.
We’re not sure if it’s the fun late-night vibes, the tantalising cocktails, or maybe the bright pink neon sign reading ‘Bar’ like a beacon, shepherding us home—but The Standard has a way of keeping us coming back again and again. The jam-packed floor-to-ceiling bar and rooftop views may also have something to do with it.
One of the earliest rooftop bars to appear in our beloved Northbridge, no prizes for guessing why we’ve always loved Mechanics so much. Summer breeze and rooftop views aside, the innovative makers and shakers at Mechanics are also serious about their cocktail and beverage offering—another reason to love them.
Another Lavish Habits brainchild, Sneaky Tony’s takes its name from Anthony Cornero Stralla (aka ‘Tony the Hat’), a mobster caught smuggling rum during prohibition. That might tell you a thing or two about the offering at this speakeasy-style bar, which you’ll find behind a hidden, password-locked door in a dark alleyway in Chinatown. Yep, you guessed it: you drink rum here. Lots of it. There are more than 300 varieties of the stuff. We love the mystery, we love the novelty, we love the cocktails. We love it all.
Frisk. Small Bar
There’s something about Frisk. Small Bar that embodies the idea that gin makes you sexy, and it might have something to do with the 180 plus bottles of sweet liquor that line the wall behind the bar. Enjoy their gins straight up or get down for one of their regularly changing food and drink pairings—past winners have included warm spicy gin cocktails with baked camembert wheels.
Varnish On King
This shiny jewel on King Street gets into your list of favourites and never leaves—and not least for its uber-cool setting. Serving up the classics and the ‘not so classics’ (seriously, that’s a menu section) with an emphasis on whisky, Varnish spells good times whether you’re an aficionado or a sceptic.
Alfred’s Pizzeria. Small Bar
Embracing that inner-east side grunge in all kinds of ways is Alfred's, your go-to late-night pizza joint and bar set in a basement off Barrack. Descend the staircase to find a few of your favourite things: cheesy pizza, rock ‘n’ roll, and an extremely well-stocked bar. If the Italia-coloured neon sign out front reading ‘Pizza Liquor Cheese’ doesn’t sum the place up, perhaps you’ll find the essence of the place somewhere between the newspaper clipping-lined walls or the red and green plastic checked tablecloths.
Founders of Mary Street Bakery Paul Aaron and Michael Forde are behind some of Perth’s most pivotal venues—Greenhouse, Cantina 663, El Publico—and now they’ve brought us Tiny’s, a mid-century modern venue housing kitchen, bar and wine shop. This is the kind of bar you want to be taking your international visitors—the fit-out is sleek as, the offering is of the highest quality, and the staff have you taken care of. It’s a definite keeper.
An old favourite that’s still going strong amid some pretty serious turnover on Beaufort Street, Clarences is the kind of bar that’s fit for all kinds. Whether you’re seeking an intimate spot for a drinks date or want to hang with friends in the beer garden, it’s hard to go wrong here. Expect epic food and drink deals during the week and some of Perth’s best DJ talent on the weekend.
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. We are indebted to this place between their live jazz Sundays and the cocktail list alone—let alone the incredible food and familiar service. Hideaway in one of the refurbished 1920s train-seat booths with a gin or vodka martini, a Swallow Iced Tea (read: chinotto) or an Aperol Spritz.
Good times abound at this local purlieu, where it’s all about no bulldust booze and eats. Percy Flint is perched on the corner of Ada and South Streets, right in the heart of Freo’s southern locale, and they’re bringing punters an excellent selection of local beers, wines and cocktails, not to mention some pretty serious fodder.
The trusty local that needs no introduction, Strange Company has been shaking and stirring some of Perth’s best cocktails for a while now. While the contemporary appointment and quiet, back-street-Freo location are reason enough to visit, their menu is basically a treasure chest waiting to be ravaged. Multiple, if not ongoing regular visits necessary.
Mrs Brown Bar
Housed in an old Victorian terrace home, Mrs Brown Bar is an intimate little neighbourhood joint providing a low-key drinking experience complete with one of Perth’s best beverage offerings and Flipside burger deliveries from next door. Whether you’re snuggled up by the fire with a mulled wine during winter or hanging in the courtyard over a few beers throughout summer, this is the kind of place you keep going back to over and over again.
Rodney’s Bait ‘N’ Tackle
Featuring a refurbished fishing boat (The Maevon) as the main bar and decked out entirely with items sourced from shipping yards and the ocean (fishing nets, prized shark teeth, buoys), Rodney’s Bait ‘n’ Tackle really is something special. There’s enough rum, whiskey and beer to keep even the roughest of pirates happy, and weekends see blues, jazz and world music artists take over the stage—giving way to a pretty serious dancefloor.
A change of hands for this Subiaco icon has seen some deviations, but as anticipated the crew behind Bivouac Canteen & Bar have created something just as loveable in their version of Juanita's. With a tidy and minimalistic fit-out, multiple spaces to enjoy (including al fresco) and a chalked-up wine list that always offers something interesting, Juanita's is still going strong as Subi’s neighbourhood watering hole. Keep your ears open for their collab dinners if you like to eat.
Hylin Back Bar
Hylin is a West Leedy staple when it comes to brunch, so no surprises that the opening of Back Bar was hotly anticipated—nor that it was worth the wait. Featuring the same industrial-contemporary look that we’ve come to love at Hylin (as well as just as much luscious greenery), Back Bar is as beautiful as their cocktails are delicious. This cosy neighbourhood spot is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, and it packs out with locals, so get down early to secure yourself a seat.
Want more? Check out all the best bars in Fremantle.
Image credit: Louise Coghill and Elle Borgward