After a hair-of-the-dog mango wheat-beer at the Northbridge Brewery, and with a hangover from hitting 17 Swan Valley wineries, breweries and distilleries in one day, me and Ruth met my old friend Oscar (who I hadn’t seen in literally half a lifetime) and Harriet in Ezra Pound, for what was surely one of the most epic catch-up sessions in history (accidentally stumbling into the Pride parade, Mei Saraswati + Band live at The Bird, a peepshow and enough alcohol to bring down a wildebeest…)
Oscar knows the streets of Perth like he knew the backstreets of our hometown (which, I can vouch, was pretty damn well) and like, he assures me, he knows the underside of his left testicle, so without any further ado I’ll pass you over into his capable hands:
Perth Nightlife Guide by Guest Writer: Oscar Phillips
First thing you need to know about Perth? It isn’t cheap, but if you’re in the right place at the right time you can get merry without an empty wallet the next morning.
Perth’s nightlife is divided by the train station: on one side you have the city’s swanky heart and on the other you have Northbridge: Perth’s seedy underbelly, though undoubtedly where all the real action happens. William Street runs through the centre, linking them both.
The heart of the city is buzzing with activity, then the clock strikes 12. Yep, Perth is no 24-hour party-time metropolis, but it does have some gems. Go out and explore a bit, start at one of the bars listed below and find yourself in a bar I haven’t mentioned. There’s a lot of fun to be had in Perth for the drinker and a lot of bars to drink at.
When you’re drinking for effect rather than taste and everyone is looking a whole lot more attractive, and you’ve tried, but you can’t stop your body from convulsing to any kind of music you hear; that, my friend, is your time to experience Perth’s club scene. Air (Fri-Sat till 4 am), Connections (Wed-Thurs till 4 am, Fri-Sat till 5 am) and Mint (Fri-Sat till 5 am) are my pick of a few bog-standard night-clubs on James St – places you go when you’re already pissed and the good bar you were drinking in is closing up. Perth really isn’t a city you come to in search of world-class night-clubs, but who knows, you may have one of the best nights of your life in one of these.
When you’ve exhausted all possible avenues to get another drink in the city and you feel like you’ve got so much more to give to this magical night, splash your face with some cold water, hail a cab and get yourself to the Crown casino, Burswood. If you get past the security with your by-now glazed and bloodshot eyes, well done! Its 24 hour drinking in here.
Love it or hate it, nine times out of ten this is where you’ll end up.
Start your onslaught of Northbridge in this bar, and you’ll probably never leave. Arguably the most happening place in Northbridge/Perth right now, if I had a bar it would look like this. Yeah, it feels like you’re peering into a hipster’s daydream as you walk over the threshold, but you have to hand it to the guys who have created such an establishment; it’s busy, the seating plan is arranged perfectly and the food is just what you need while getting merry – new-age Australian tapas; order-a-few-dishes-for-the-table-and-all-dig-in kind of food, at a very high standard, yet a reasonable price. What more could you want?
(Mon-Sat till midnight; Sun till 10)
The Mechanics Institute
Across the road from Lot Twenty, down a small alleyway (it’s signposted), you’ll find this reasonably small, multi-tiered bar. It fits in with the new theme of the moment…hipster heaven, though the well- and expressively-dressed do mingle here quite harmoniously. Think lonesome young guy with tight jeans, flat cap and very well-groomed beard on one table while, on the next one, four office guys in suits pop in for a quick one after work. If you only come in for one, please make it a Pappy van Winkle Old Fashioned – executed perfectly, no messing around. Let the top-quality bourbon do the talking, just as it should be… Wow!
(Mon till midnight; Tue-Sat till 12 & Sun till ten)
Frisk Small Bar
I love this place! It serves pretty much every gin ever made and concocts a vast array of different ways to drink them. There was me thinking gin and tonic or nothing… How naïve! This bar will open your eyes to the world of gin. The staff are really friendly and on certain days they have a small barbecue out the front for patrons. A must visit! 103 Francis Street.
(Tues-Sat till midnight & Sun till ten)
The Brass Monkey
There’s no getting away from this place, smack-bang in the middle of Northbridge. I know it’s a Northbridge institution and it’s been around for years, but the truth is, if it weren’t where it is and was down some backstreet…sorry, Brass Monkey, you wouldn’t even get a mention. OK, I guess it tries (a bit): it has meal deals for each day of the week, themed parties on occasion and live music, with an open mic night each week. But I still have to say, every time I’ve been there, it’s been 100% shit.
(Mon-Tue till midnight; Wed-Thur till 1 am; Fri-Sat till 2 am & Sun till ten)
While there are so many bars I’ve failed to mention that are far more worthy, I do prefer it to the Brass Monkey (it’s only a few doors up) and it helped me out when I first got to Perth (broke) so I feel I owe it to the place to shed some light on its plus points. I needed to eat, and damn sure I needed to drink, so the pizza and pint deal they do Wednesday to Sunday from 4 pm for $12 is a real gem. When a pint of cider on its own was $12.50 or you could get one with a pizza for $12, it was a no-brainer. I know it’s to get you in the door, but the crafty backpacker then heads straight to the bottle-shop next-door to buy a bag of goon to drink back at the hostel. I couldn’t believe how big the pizzas were for the price (free) and, at an above-average standard, you can’t go far wrong. Happy hour ($6 for standard drinks) is 5-6 pm everyday and on other nights of the week they do different meal deals – nice, but slightly more money. Give me the pizza any day! Every dollar helps when living in Perth.
(Wed-Thurs till 1 am; Fri-Sat till 2 am & Sun till midnight)
The City (Perth CBD)
The next four bars are all situated along a short (very easy to navigate when pissed) little alley behind the Heritage restaurant on St Georges Terrace.
The Print Hall
A classy, four-floor joint that caters for all your needs. The basement has a coffee shop and bakery called the Small Print, the ground floor has the Print Hall – a large bar stacked with a massive array of top quality alcohol and a fine-dining restaurant joined on to it – the first floor is The Apple Daily Bar and Eating House, serving up contemporary Asian cuisine, and on the roof there is Bob’s Bar – a great spot, surrounded by all the tall buildings of the city. It’s comfortable, friendly and has a good alcohol list with great brands of craft beer and cider. They also have a small Mexican-themed menu with top-quality bar snacks. Bob’s is a great place to start the night – it’s the more casual hangout of the bunch, so shorts and flip flops (thongs) are not frowned upon here.
(Mon-Sat till midnight & Sun till ten)
Bar La Fayette
Think old leather sofas, table service, polished dark wood furniture, pictures in antique picture frames, then throw in The Isley Brothers playing in the background and a spirit list as long as…well, too long really; it makes it hard to decide what to drink, which in turn shortens your drinking time. I don’t mind at all though, because that’s what you need in this place: time. Time to sit back, soak up the environment and focus your attention on just how damn good the cocktails really are. It’s an old world cocktail bar with a modern perspective. There’s live music out the front Thursday and Saturday (and sometimes Friday) from 5 pm to around 8 pm. You think, “this is going to be expensive,” as a waiter seats you, but it’s no more than a cocktail in one of the terrible clubs in Northbridge. I know where I would rather drink.
(Mon-Sat till midnight)
Small, narrow, long, trendy, free popcorn – these are a few words to describe Choo Choo’s. A cocktail bar for the unpretentious. A real mix of music genres play in the background, the bar staff are exceptionally friendly and the prices are…Perth prices.
(Mon-Sat till midnight)
The downstairs bar of the Heritage restaurant, Bobeche is dimly lit with leather and dark wood décor, and late 20s music chiming away in the background. In fact, going for a drink here feels like you’ve stepped back in time, in a good way. The drink prices are high-end but it’s worth going for their happy hour from 5-6 pm. Plus it stays open till 2 a.m. (great for Perth!) on a Friday and Saturday with a 1 a.m. lock out. Plus they serve food till late. Oh, and the popcorn comes free flowing with any drink order. Great touch!
(Mon-Sat till midnight)
The Lucky Shag
Jump off the Perth underground line at Esplanade, come out of the station, look right and you’ll see the glass bell tower. Head towards it and right beside it you’ll find the Lucky Shag. They play sport on the TVs inside and have a wide selection of drink, but this bar really is all about the alfresco area. Large, lots of seating and set out over the Swan River, it’s the best place in Perth to have a daytime-drink or a few sundowners. It does get busy so if you want a seat outside be sure to get there early.
(Mon-Thurs till midnight; Fri-Sat till one & Sun till ten)
Shhhhhh…! One of Perth’s best kept secrets is Wolf Lane. If you turn right off William Street onto Murray Street, then keep your eyes peeled, Eight Hundred Arcade is a small lane on your left, only a pedestrian footpath, which leads to Wolf Lane. The Wolf Lane bar is on the corner. Three words to describe this bar: cool, happening and trendy. Nothing more, nothing less. All the walls are adorned with eccentric paintings and artwork and the seating is – well, was – someone else’s home furniture 50 years ago. The barman talked me in to getting a pint of Fosters, saying it was completely different to the English atrocity. He was right; it was damn good.
(Fri-Sat till midnight)
Located on William Street, above the Aviary restaurant and two doors up from Jamie Oliver’s Italian, The Nest is as central as central could be and makes the perfect interim point of the drinker’s evening. It’s your best bet if you’re just off the train, about to get on the train, or half-way between the city and Northbridge, or vice versa, and need an in-between bar. Being a rooftop bar, it’s great on a summer’s night, but it does have heaters for the cold nights so, for those like me who like to drink in the fresh air, it’s all go, all year round. Throw in good music (live music some nights), surfing on the big screen, a great selection of drink and a really tasty menu and that’s my kind of bar. Pros? The onion rings. They’re the best I’ve ever had. Cons? When you’re paying $10-$12 for a glass, that glass wants to be a pint glass. Get yourself some, Nest! Australia is moving on from the schooner. Take note! I would hate to see you being left behind.
(Sun-Thurs till ten & Fri-Sat till one)
Oh, and in Perth the last trains of the night are now free.