Great cocktail bars to put on your to-do list
It could be fun to try out cocktail bars in Perth and Fremantle that you haven't visited before. While WA is well known for world class wine and craft beers, the extraordinary range of imaginative cocktails and mocktails is worth celebrating in itself. Here's a rundown of some great cocktail bars to put on your 'to do' list.
Bathers Beach House
Bathers Beach has been a nostalgic haunt for locals over the decades. Now, opened up for casual coffee, dining and sundowners, Bathers Beach House is fast becoming an iconic wine, beer and cocktail bar in Fremantle close to Fishing Boat Harbour.
Situated inches from the sand, the licensed beach area and restaurant with clear ocean views are proving to be a favourite choice for lazy summer evenings. Locals flock there to catch Instagrammable pics of the stunning Perth sunsets over the ocean, and enjoy the cool evening sand between their toes.
This is a perfect spot for cocktails at sunset, with a good range of vodka, gin, rum, tequila and bourbon mixes, as well as the delicious Cuddles on the Beach mocktail. Irresistible are the Salted Caramel Espresso Martini, Strawberry Jalapeño Margarita, Bathers Red Sangria, and the Christmassy Big Pav - pavlova vodka, strawberry liqueur, strawberries, kiwis, passionfruit, cream and meringue.
Mechanics' Institute Bar
On the lively Northbridge crossroads of William Street and James Street is the award-winning Mechanics Institute rooftop bar, modestly tucked away along a laneway of street art. The historic building pays homage to its heritage as an education centre for working men, while remaining firmly in the present, attracting an upbeat young clientele to sample a rotating menu of cocktails.
This easygoing Perth cocktail bar is known for its mainstay, Hillbilly Bob's Ruckus Juice - a blend of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, lime, Orgeat syrup, lager and ginger beer. Try the espresso martini too. On Bartender Appreciation Day, take note of the talented staff who really know their stuff and add to the atmosphere of relaxed fun.
Sitting directly above Flipside, you're welcome to order in a delicious burger. The young crew will happily pop upstairs to deliver it.
Sweetwater Rooftop Bar
Fremantle's rooftop cocktail bar, Sweetwater, sits six floors up with an outdoor balcony. A little more decor-conscious than Mechanics, the vibe is bright, light, summer. Along with a list of carefully crafted cocktails, they will serve up your favourite mix on request, just how you like it.
There are no fancy names here, but more simple and descriptive titles that focus your attention on the key experience. Short & Sweet is a mix of bourbon, white chocolate, cointreau and maple, while the Spiced Pink Grapefruit Daquiri is exactly that - spited rum, grapefruit and cinnamon.
If you love the tang of ginger, try the Ginger Sunset, a variation on the classic tequila version, with mandarin, agave and ginger beer, or Gingerbread Delight, combining angostura rum, gin, gingerbread and apple. Order a tasty Asian cuisine share plate to follow.
This basement courtyard cocktail bar in Perth's vibrant State Buildings complex is an absolute must for the Thai street food atmosphere as much as the drinks menu. After sundown, the wall art is lit up and you'll feel as if you've been beamed over to Bangkok. Even the cocktails are influenced by Thai ingredients. Try the Muay Thai Mai Tai with ginger, coconut, coriander and tequila, the Ping Pong featuring lemongrass, ginger, almond, sloe gin and vodka, or Thai Basil Smash, a simple cocktail of Thai basil, chilli and gin.
Long Chim has some refreshing non-alcoholic options too, including Ginger & Chilli Soda, Thai Basil Seed Drink, and Paradise Found - a thirst-quenching mix of pineapple, almond, mint and ginger.
Where better to celebrate Bartender Appreciation Day than at Perth's artisan cocktail bar? With an extensive list of cocktails and mocktails to choose from, you'll need to rest at the bar for a while to browse the menu. Bar staff can help you choose, or mix your favourite drink.
Look for the Hall of Fame list, which gathers together the most popular cocktails. Pearfectioned has to be sampled at least once for its delicious mix of pear brandy, spices, pear bitters and a side of caramelised anise pear. Or on a hot day, cool down with Watermelon Millionaire, which blends fresh watermelon with lime juice, rum, grenadine, apricot liqueur and sloe gin.
Bar Lafayette plays on our current desire for comfortable nostalgia with a contemporary kick, a style that works well with cocktail bars. Sink into the old fashioned leather armchairs and chesterfield lounges after a long day of work or sight-seeing, or settle in the alfresco area on a balmy summer evening.
This is another historic building that has been beautiful restored, situated in Brookfield Place, an enclave off the south side of St Georges Terrace.
Also in Brookfield Place is another Perth bar serving cocktails in a luxurious retro environment. Bobèche takes a 19th century carnival theme, with bartenders who deserve appreciation any day of the year for their smart dress code and impressive skills. Try Nuts About Bananas with whisky, peanut and chocolate, or Pushing up Daisies featuring absinthe, lillet blanc and midori.
If you're visiting in a group, get there early to find a spot and check out the cocktails available as a group serve. You can't go far wrong with a round of Bob Zombies (rum, pineapple, passion fruit and falernum syrup).
Comfortable and eclectic shabby chic with a clever and slightly scary fairytale theme characterises Wolf Lane, one of Perth's go-to cocktail bars in the magnetic King Street area. If you can't imagine what that looks like, go along early on Bartender Appreciation Day, or any Friday evening, admire the art and artefacts, and choose your chair.
Tucked in a hidden laneway, Wolf Lane will have you wondering if you're imagining things. Get your cocktails served in Granny May's teapots and add some strange bar snacks to keep up the illusion.
The cocktail menu has a good range that includes classics like The Southside, a gin-lover's Mojito; new ideas such as The Swanky Swan beer cocktail with Swan Draft, rum, brandy liqueur, passionfruit and lime; and classy cocktails like Mexico's Ruby, a fine tequila mixed with cointreau, agave and fresh lime.
Let your bartender have some fun and order a Surprise Me, which needs no explanation.
The Meatball Bar
Mount Lawley, Leederville and Fremantle all have Meatball cocktail bars, which feature the ideal bar food in easily consumed balls of flavour. A long list of cocktails covers all bases, and bartenders will make any classic cocktail of your choice for $17.00.
Just a handful from the menu gives you an idea of the delicious and imaginative array you'll need time to browse: Popcorn Martini contains cognac, white chocolate, pop corn syrup and egg white; Fremantle Breeze blends bourbon, pomegranate liqueur, ginger, cucumber, peach puree, lime juice and soda; and the Frenchie combines vodka infused marshmallow, gin, lemon juice, marshmallow syrup and cranberry.
As the squares, courtyards and alleyways of Perth open up to connect with one another, more and more small bars are making a name for themselves. Halford Bar is one, located towards Hay Street in the redeveloped Cathedral Square, underneath the luxurious COMO The Treasury hotel.
Make a beeline for Halford's, where the staff will help YOU to appreciate a good whisky! The softly lit, velvety lounge bar has an astonishing range of whiskies, and is also one of Perth's favourite cocktail bars. Relax with a Halford Martini, which uses an apricot brandy rinse and adds lillet blanc and anchovy olives to the gin. Or try the Halford Zombie with rum, toasted marshmallow, lime and absinthe. Mocktails are just as tempting, and can be turned into cocktails with the addition of one ingredient, suggested on the menu.
Tucked down an art-sprayed laneway off Howard Street, near Elizabeth Quay, Helvetica is another whisky bar that doubles as a cocktail bar. This is an unpretentious venue, worth hunting down for Friday night sundowners.
A must on the list is Yzma's Elixir, a blend of rye gin, casoni, rhubarb and cardamom compote, lemon juice and sparkling wine. Fish House Punch is another irresistible mix, with rum, brandy, peach liqueur, sparkling wine, lemon, sugar and soda, while Penicillin will surely live up to its name, a life-giving prescription of malt whisky, lemon juice, honey and ginger.