I love good bars. We are pretty spoilt in Perth; over the past five or so years, there has been a massive influx of amazing small bars.
I tried to work out exactly where I spend most of my time and why. The team slinging drinks has a massive impact; location; style of venue; people who drink there; the booze they serve and whether they have a good cider are usually my main “assessment” points. I’m not judging them with a notepad or anything, but I consider these things before I go into a place repeatedly.
Putting this list together was actually really hard and I’m sure that once I’ve finished it, I’ll think of a reason I love somewhere else but I’ve narrowed it down to 10. These are the bars that I love, for whatever reason. They make me happy, they make me feel at home, whatever it is, they’re special to me. This list is in absolutely no order of preference, just alphabetically because I like lists to make sense.
- The Bird
This was one of the first small bars I remember going to in Perth. A good friend of mine introduced me to it and I love the vibe.
It’s relaxed, they have good wines, the staff know their booze and are always super nice.
It suits an after work drink or a night where you dance the for hours. I have spent many evenings drinking rosé until we’re not sure if we can stand up, I’ve had first dates there and I’ve caught up with family. It’s a really versatile venue and with the extension of the beer garden, it’s really great space.
What should you drink? Rosé.
- The Brisbane
The Brisbane is one of those places that I can’t help but go back to. Some very strong friendships have been forged in that place and it continues to do what it does well.
One of the things about bars I love, is being able to go into a bar and know the staff. I have somehow managed to maintain relationships with staff members over the past seven years, even though I stopped going anywhere for three of those years.
The staff at the Brisbane make me feel like I’ve come home. I’ve spent hours sitting in the back corner totally judging everyone (in a nice way, of course), family and friend lunches, long afternoon drinks and I’ve made some of the most precious memories I have there.
What should you drink? Their wine list is pretty extensive and they’ve got a couple of real gems on there.
Clarences is without a doubt one of my favourite venues in Perth. I’ve written about it before and I still stand by all that I said.
It gets it right every time and I can’t think of a time when I’ve been there and I haven’t enjoyed myself. They’ve really got the combination of food and booze right and offer three very different spaces for you to relax in.
Lloyd, one of the owners, is an absolute gun; he really knows what he’s doing and you can see come through how the staff work and the booze that they serve.
I have spent hours sitting in the sunshine, writing, talking, playing cards. I’ve met some of my best friends at here and it is regularly my first port of call for a venue to have a drink in. Sunday set the scene for great conversations over $6 ciders. It has been the host to many birthday’s, leaving parties, dates and regular catch ups. Clarences is, without a doubt, my Cheers.
What should you drink? $6 ciders on a Sunday
- Dominion League
The Dominion League hasn’t been open for very long but it worked its way into my heart. Split into almost two venues, you have a bar upstairs with wines, beers and built cocktails being the focus. Taking yourself downstairs, you are greeted by low lighting, an impressive back bar and intimate seating. Food is present throughput but they are championing good service and great drinks. I’ve had my best Manhattan and my best Old Fashioned downstairs and the staff actually seem interested in having a conversation about what you want to drink and why.
This is my mid-week, on my way home, I want a chat, bar. The venue is inviting and beautifully fitted out. Owned by the Mechanic’s guys, it’s a great bar. The staff are really knowledgeable and you can tell that each and every one of the staff love what they do. It’s the little details, from the way a drink is made in front of you, to people remembering what you want to drink when you come back up to the bar. On top of all of that, these guys are having fun. They work together but they’re like a family, which shows in how they interact with each other and you.
What should you drink? Always rum.
Downstairs: Classic cocktails
Upstairs: Beers or a Tommy’s Margaritas
Starting off as a pop up bar for six months, Enrique’s has been a regular feature of the Mount Lawley strip since October 2013 and I really hope that it’s here to stay.
Focusing on combinations of gin, tonics are garnishes, Enrique’s is really fun. Beers are served in iced steins, they serve $5 sangria’s on a Sunday and their chicken wings are pretty awesome.
The staff are always having fun and they bring real energy to the venue. The music is loud and cheesy (their 80’s playlist freaking rocks) but it really works. They’ve got a dining room out the back if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the bar, but personally, I prefer to be in the thick of it. The bar area is split into standing and sitting and if you want a table on a Friday, get in really early, or be sensible and book. I’ve walked past to see people almost queue out the door to get in. What I like is that even when it’s that busy, the staff don’t seem to lose much of their cool.
I have enjoyed many an afternoon and evening here and I love that it started as a pop up that was loved enough for it to stay.
What should you drink? Gin. Gin. Gin.
- Ezra Pound
I recently rediscovered Ezra and I am so happy that I did. Tucked down a laneway off William in Northbridge, it’s funky, unique and inviting style is perfect. If you’re lucky enough to get a table outside, you are set for the rest of your evening.
The cocktails are awesome, their beer selection is simple but wicked and I just love the vibe it has. This is my Tuesday night pub. I can grab a table outside, drink cider, smoke and either write, talk or read and I always feel comfortable. The people who drink here like booze, music and fun. They’re respectful and interesting and laid back which is awesome. The staff are the same and I really love how much of themselves they seem to bring to the venue.
What should you drink? An Old Fashioned or a sparkling Coopers, which comes in a big brown bag.
- Five Bar
Relaxed atmosphere, good service, yummy food and a pool table. I am sold!
Five has been a warm, welcoming part of the Beaufort St strip for many years now and it keeps going from strength to strength. The team there really makes this venue for me and they’re constantly doing different things to make the venue more interesting. From wine sessions to tap takeovers to Jerry the Oyster King, there’s always something going on at Five which is great.
The food’s good and I love chilling out and playing pool. Their decor is awesome, they’ve used different furniture to subtly create different areas and my favourite spot in on top of the pallets, surrounded by massive cushions.
What should you drink? A beer from one of their tap takeovers.
- The Flying Scotsman
This was the first proper pub I ever enjoyed drinking in. The Scoto and I have been through everything together. They’ve been there for me during heartbreak, for birthdays. I’ve been there for them when Defector’s almost fell down and we’ve done it all with snakebite and rum induced smiles.
In all seriousness, this is a great pub. Good pub food. Good drinks. Fun staff and it’s the only place I know of where I can get a good pint of snakebite and black (beer, cider and in the Scoto’s case; raspberry cordial). The family owned venue has been going for a long time and it’s changed and developed as needed, but has never lost its Scoto-ness.This is a pub for any day of the week, at any time of the day and I love it for that.
Upstairs you’ve got Defectors which is a great cocktail bar with a long balcony, a dance floor, two large seating areas and a good selection of booze decorating its back bar. Downstairs and attached to the main bar, you’ve got the Velvet Lounge. This is home to gigs, record sales, Fringe World performances and anything else you can think of. I held an AGM there once.
Perfectly well-rounded, there is no bullshit with the Scoto. You know exactly what you’re getting; a really good pub.
What should you drink? Snakebite and black or $10 pizza and pints on a Sunday afternoon.
Luxe holds a very special spot in my heart. It was the first venue I ever walked into in Australia and I have loved it ever since.
The drinks at Luxe are great, the team is incredible and the venue (all three parts) is perfect. Luxe has really succeeded at catering for everyone. If you want to dance, you can. If you want to relax on a couch and talk, you can. If you want great cocktails and a laugh with the bar staff, you can.
Music is as important to the Luxe crew as the drinks are and their resident DJs are brilliant, always mixing the best house and party tunes. From Sunday’s spent dancing on the tables, to Melbourne Cup spent outside at Bamboo, I love Luxe through and through. It’s a well-known spot for hospo locals and when you walk in, you feel like you’re surrounded by family.
What should you drink? Whatever their cocktail special is. And Rum.
- The Old Laundry
So this is a big call, I know. It’s only been open for two/three weeks, but sometimes you go somewhere and you just know that it’s right for you. The Old Laundry is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks and has hit the Angove St strip like a punch in the face. It’s busy, the food is good, the booze is great and the staff make you feel at home from the second you walk through the door.
I love the layout and how bright it is. It’s high ceilings are incredible and it’s spacious and airy without looking vast and empty. Breakfasts and lunches are busy but evenings are bustling with people. Groups of people; couples; people under 25 and people over 50; it’s a venue that suits almost anyone.
The outside area is beautiful. The old boiler is a really nice touch and ties the space together nicely. On top of it being a great looking venue, the booze is great. The wines are awesome, the cocktails are made by absolute rockstars and the coffee is freaking awesome. When I’m there I want to sit there for hours, sipping on coffees and wines, talking and people watching. It’s new and bright and bubbly, but it’s done something awesome, it makes you want to stay.
What should you drink? The Chardonnay and their coffee