Top 5 bars in… Perth

21st September, 2016 by admin

Situated on Australia’s west coast, Perth is the largest isolated city in the world – yet it’s no hermit. Rather, its bars have developed their own sense of kicked-back style, the envy of drinking hotspots the world over, writes Sam Bygrave.


We reveal our pick of the top five bars in Perth

** This feature was first published in the May 2016 edition of The Spirits Business
Perth is one of the most remote cities in the world, and with a population of more than two million it is the largest city furthest away from any capital. Yet rather than hinder the drinks culture in the city, it’s this isolation that’s helping it foster a bar scene that is very much its own.
Perth hasn’t always enjoyed a buzzing reputation: it’s been known as ‘Dullsville’ in the past, and there are large swathes of the city in which the corner pub, renovated to within an inch of its life and stripped of its character, still reigns supreme. Yet over the last five years Perth has seen a boom in smaller, owner-operator bars. Many of these have been opened by former bartenders; others have fostered a bartender-led culture. And the figures behind the scenes have watched as their bars win awards on a broader Australian stage. Perth’s drinkers have come to the party, too, demanding better drinks, service, and hospitality.
Located on the west side of the continent, bartenders in Perth have thrived not only despite their geographical isolation, but also because of it. While Sydney and Melbourne bartenders have seen it all, Perth’s take every opportunity that comes their way from the eastern states. They travel too, sitting at the bars of Sydney and Melbourne, and bringing back new ideas and techniques to drive their own city forward.
They’re a parochial lot. Whereas cities like Sydney or Melbourne might look to international wines and spirits, the drinks lists of Perth are stuffed full of local drops; and so they should be, given that they’ve access to the best produce from local farms, great wines from Margaret River, and a booming craft spirits industry led by Western Australian favourite, The West Winds Gin.
The thing with Perth bars is, though they can mix it with the best offerings the eastern cities have to offer, there’s a peculiar kind of hospitality in Perth. Simply put, it’s fun. They cut all the crap. That’s because if your everyday Perth punter isn’t having a good time, they’re not there for long. Sydneysiders will queue for the latest nightspot only to flitter off to the next thing as soon as it opens; Melbournians, having had great bars and food since forever, are hard to impress. But Perth is out for a good time. With the current crop of bartenders in Perth, the hospitality is better than ever.

Check out our pick of the top five best bars in Perth…

Varnish on King

varnish-on-kingIf whiskey is your thing, you’d best wander the side streets to reach Varnish on King. A fixture on best bar lists and in the mix for awards since it opened, the emphasis here is on
American whiskey (whilst eschewing Americana kitsch), good beer, and a food offering that will make you reconsider why on earth you’d need to go to restaurant.

Mechanics Institute

mechanics-instituteMechanics Institute is a small bar, with an entrance perched atop a set of stairs above an unremarkable back lane in the city’s Northbridge precinct. But this little bar has won national awards and is known for its irreverent hospitality, all while producing drinks that are world class. It has a very Australian approach to service.

Enrique’s School for to Bullfighting

enriquesWhen Enrique’s – a Gintonica bar with an intentionally confusing moniker – first opened in 2013, it was a stopgap pop-up. Fast forward a few years and the bar that is famed for its 80s music, Gintonica serves, and goodtime hospitality, is set to briefly shut for a makeover and a new late license. The good news is the gin works and will remain, and the inimitable bar manager Phil Weber will also be sticking around.

Long Chim

long-chimAustralian chef David Thompson has taken his very traditional take on Thai food to the UK and
Bangkok; now he’s touched back down in Australia. But it’s the bar at Long Chim that you should find yourself at; bar manager James Connolly has got a knack for flavour and crafting serious drinks, all under the guise of having a good time.


bobecheBobeche is a funny sort of place; it’s about as serious a bar as you can find when it comes to the provenance of their classic- based cocktails, yet you can release your inner rascal late into the evening (Perth has only recently allowed late licences for non-nightclub venues so late trading is still rare). Bar manager Joe Sinagra has been a regular fixture on the ‘best of’ Australian bartender lists in recent years, and his French- accented cocktails attest to his skills with a shaker.

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