Every city has their version of the secret bars these days, it’s like hipster heaven to be able to be the only one that knows the password, or where the secret phone box door is. But Perth has often been behind the times when it comes to hanging with the cool kids like Melbourne and Sydney. All of a sudden though, my hometown is the focus of some superbly secret spots for nightowls. And because I’m so giving, I went and tried all of them. These were some of my favourites.
THE JAZZ CELLAR
Tucked away in inner northern city suburb of Mt Hawthorn, The Jazz Cellar was cool before the small bar revolution took place in Perth. It does, however, remain one of the best kept secrets in the city. The only giveaway for the entrance for this live music gem is the red phone box on the corner of Scarborough Beach Rd and Buxton St. Strictly BYO food AND drink, tickets for the Friday night 1920s jazz shows sell out each week.
Hidden down an alleyway that any sane woman wouldn’t wander down alone, The Laneway Lounge is another jazz hotspot. Owners Shuen Kuan and Denning Chong fell in love with the location immediately, and they’ve had a quiet opening to begin with. That hasn’t stopped people from finding them though, the people of Perth seem to be very open to new conceepts and offerings when it comes to our nightlife.
VARNISH ON KING
The brains behind successful Luxe Bar in Highgate is also the owner of Varnish on King, among others. A lot of people find it hard to find Varnish, which is located in a basement accessed by a huge timber door and staircase off the gritty end of King St in the city centre. The dirty end of King suited owner Andy Freeman though, he wanted as far away from the glitz of the high end shopping as possible. It’s comfortable, cosy and definitely something new to try. If you’re into wine or whiskey, add this place to your bucket list immediately.
THE MECHANICS INSTITUTE
Not so secret, but definitely small Mechanics has been a Perth instituion for a few years now. Owner Brett Robinson says he wanted an element of surprise when people entered his establishments (Brett also owns newly opened The Dominion League.) Tucked in a back alley off William St in Northbridge, Mechanics is a creative way of using the space provided, and is a great addition to your night out.
FRISK. SMALL BAR
Another fairly well known and well established gem, Frisk is a delightfully small bar filled to the brim with gin. That’s right, gin lovers rejoice! No more being the odd one out in a brewery or whiskey bar, we finally have a bar for our favourite spirit.
Sneaky Tony’s is a speakeasy so secretive that it requires a password to enter (seek some magic words on their Facebook page), but it’s worth the hassle. Think low lights, wooden features and cool bar staff. Keep your eyes peeled when you’re looking for it – there’s no signage so you could easily walk right past. That is, if there aren’t at least 75 people lined up to get in on a Friday or Saturday night.
The bar is to rum what Frisk is to gin – an absolute celebration, with over 250 rum varieties. If rum isn’t your thing, the the bar also features cocktails, red wine and white wine on tap. While having wine on tap isn’t the most traditional thing around, Sneaky Tony’s isn’t your traditional bar so it all sort of works. Add a good burger menu to the mix and you’ve found yourself the perfect spot to spend an evening with your pals. Try the Diplomatico Exclusiva, neat.
This is a place that’s hard to find and hard to leave. And really, why would you want to go anywhere when, instead, you can buy a bottle of whiskey (from the 115 varieties available) and store in your own private locker?
The bar is bustling. It’s small, intimate and loud, and you’ll like it that way. As well as whiskeys galore, there’s a well-rounded cocktail list, a host of beers and a 13-or-so deep wine list. Before you start making wine eyes at the bar staff, I definitely suggest you line your tummy with some of the back-to-basic bar snacks – I promise you’ve never had a party pie so good.