The Central Business District (or CBD) is the compact and walkable city center of Perth, home to the head offices of some of the state’s most important companies. Curious travelers will find an effective mix of business and pleasure on this commercial district’s densely packed, bustling streets, including a vibrant range of bars. Whether you’ve just arrived in town or are ready to relax after a long day, we’ve got you covered with our guide to the top ten bars in Perth’s CBD.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, French, American, $$$
A whimsical spiral staircase off of St. George’s Terrace will lead you down into the demimonde of the Parisian bar Bobèche. The proprietors urge you to ‘cast your imagination to a period of wry wit and mischief’ on your visit to this dimly lit, down-to-earth den of revelry, where you can enjoy a range of drinks inspired by the golden age of cocktails. Whisky fans are sure to love the Sweet Georgia Brown (George Dickel Tennessee, peach, lemon juice, maple, ginger ale) and the Emerald Immigrant (J&B Scotch whisky, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice, strawberry jam), while groups are often drawn to Bobèche for its popular teapot cocktails, like the Summer Cup (Tanqueray gin, Bobèche summer mix, minty vermouth, cucumber, orange, thyme, soda water) and the Claret Cup Henry VIII (Red wine, manzanilla sherry, lemon & thyme sherbet, soda water). They offer a daily Happy Hour where tap beer, wine and house spirits are all served, and a regular food menu of French and American favorites (oysters, steak tartare, burgers and Ruebens) to satisfy late night appetites.
Bar Lafayette is housed in the heritage-listed Perth Technical School, a fixture on St Georges Terrace since 1910. The owners have honored the venue by creating an old-world atmosphere of chaise lounges and vintage lamps, offering soft lighting and softer seating to the CBD’s office crowd after a long day at work. These surroundings engender a more subdued, elegant night of drinking, which is well provided for by their list of prestigious artisanal cocktail creations. Try the Chestnut Rob Roy paired with a dinner of ginger braised duck, before moving on to sample their selection of Kentucky and single malt whiskies, or small producer wines by the bottle.
At the base of the BHP Building you’ll find Choo Choo’s, an intimate and inventive haven from the workaday world. Owners David MacNish, Tye Harper and Mike De Vos were inspired to create a space where patrons can forget about the stress of the office and unwind for a few precious hours; they’ve even crafted a set of house commandments which funnily but firmly help you leave your troubles at the door (for example, all ties must be loosened or discarded upon entering this establishment). This desire to do away with pretension and corporate pomp is reflected in Choo Choo’s loose, playful approach to crafting cocktails: their barkeeps are always happy to engineer a new drink mix to suit the whims of weary customers. There are plenty of sweet treats at the bar to nibble on with your drink, like the ever-tempting maple bacon salt popcorn. To ensure that you fully forget your cares, Choo Choo’s also regularly features live music events, with performances perfectly framed against the bar’s backdrop of vintage kitsch and exposed brick-and-concrete walls splashed with colorful street art style murals.
Helvetica is a two-story lane-way bar on St. George’s Terrace, infused with the same clean, effective simplicity as their namesake classic Swiss typeface. Perth’s whiskey lovers are sure to swoon over the 115 varieties lining the bar, a carefully curated selection ranging from Scottish staples to New World imports. But whiskies are only one type of treasure to be found in this trove: Helvetica also offers an ever changing list of boutique wines by the glass, a full host of craft beers, and a cocktail list which expertly blends classic and contemporary tastes. Try the Dark ‘n’ Stormy with homemade ginger beer, the Maker’s Mark Boulevardier featuring Antica Formula, or the distinguished (yet devilish) Earl Grey Martini.
Impress your colleagues at that crucial working lunch with a trip to Howling’s Bar on Milligan Street. This versatile, modish outfit in the CBD offers ample Art Deco-styled seating from which to enjoy their eight beer taps and crafted signature cocktails, like the Grandma’s Tea (West Winds ‘The Sabre’ Gin and Gabriel Boudier Apricot Brandy with Russian Caravan Tea, Lemon, Sugar and Tonic water), or the Breakfast at Vesper’s (Wyborowa Vodka, Beefeater Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Lillet Blanc, and a spoonful of Orange Marmalade). Aside from being perfectly suited to suits, Howling’s offers plenty more to draw in tourists and less-businesslike locals, including a seasonal food menu of small sharing plates and substantial mains like scallop ceviche, smoked BBQ pork ribs, and chorizo arancini. They also host the Dispensary Cafe, which churns out takeaway coffees along with quick breakfast and lunch fare.
Overseen by Perth’s culinary and drinking impresario Andy Freeman, Varnish on King pays a respectful tribute to Southern culture and Prohibition-era speakeasies. You’ll find the entrance concealed behind an unassuming doorway, through which a stairwell will lead you down to the bar itself, a basement level space practicing stripped-down chic with walls of bare brick and exposed floorboards. Despite its discreet location this venue is packed most nights of the week, as word of mouth has drawn locals to its stock of 100 bourbons, vast array of wines, and a creative seasonal food menu of smoky, Cajun-style plates from head chef David Allison (previously of Vue du Monde and Rockpool), including mac ‘n’ cheese, chicken wings with popcorn and the famous ‘bacon flights’.
CBD office drones can mellow out Madrid-style at Andaluz Bar and Tapas, a cosy bar for bonding and reconnecting while indulging in life’s little pleasures. Surrounded by vintage Spanish objets d’art in the low-lit lower rooms of the historic Parker and Parker building, patrons can curl up on Chesterfield sofas and chaise lounges while nursing Spanish beers, sipping brandies and sherries, or savoring premium international wines. Hungry guests can take their pick from ten different kinds of jamon, snacks like paprika-salted almonds, anchovies on toast, and chick and duck liver parfait, as well as more contemporary tapas like slow-cooked pork belly with morcilla or croquettes of braised leek, confit onion and mahon.
Bar, Restaurant, Cocktails, Australian, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, $$$
Set inside London House on the West End of St Georges Terrace, The George is a sophisticated perennial favorite of the after-work crowds and the corporate glitterati of Perth’s financial district. This popularity is partly earned by the power breakfast hour they host between 7am and 10am each morning, as well as a lavishly-decorated marble seating area which sets the perfect tone for business lunches. The bar is also extremely well-attended in the evening hours, drawing flocks of patrons in with punches that can serve up to ten people; tasting flights of whisky, rum and tequila; a choice of four different boilermakers; and original cocktail creations like the Jam ‘n’ Mar-Tea-Ni (Old Tom Gin, Cherry Brandy, Chamomile tea, lemon juice, chili sugar syrup, raspberry & balsamic jam), the Under The Table (The George’s orange and cacao infused Olmeca tequila, Grand Marnier, marmalade, lemon juice, and the venue’s own secret syrup), and the Peachy Keen (Ciroc Coconut Vodka, Licor 43, lemon juice, peach, peach syrup).
In the midst of CBD’s commercialized urban sprawl, The Stables Bar offers a return to nature in a space that dates back to the 19th century, when it began as one of Perth’s first horse stables. It later expanded in 1898 to add a farm and hardware store, and in 2012 the property was converted into a bar which offers Perth’s modern residents a 2-story drinking and dining experience, including a sophisticated outdoor bar with a panoramic view of the city skyline. Guests can socialize over the quaint cobblestone grounds with a deliciously bitter Hop Hog IPA on tap, or perhaps flirt over cocktails like the mischievously titled Passionate Orgasm (vanilla vodka, Mozart White, passion fruit, and white chocolate). The wine list ranges from affordable carafes to remarkable reserve bottles for special occasions. The Stables’ kitchen honors the venue’s rustic roots by baking its own bread, smoking its own fish, and whipping up its own condiments for all menu items, resulting in extremely fresh bar snacks and satisfying mains. If you’re going for dinner, be sure to try the goat ragu.
Sentinel Bar and Grill is a prestigious venue which does its share to secure the CBD’s reputation as a dynamic, upscale nightlife nexus. The bar offers six international and local draft beers, including Mountain Goat Steam Ale, Weihenstephaner Hefe and Two Birds ‘Sunset’ Red Ale, whereas their extensive wine list promotes mostly French titles, with key additions from local vineyards and other international varietals. Their lunch and dinner menus combine the integral food culture of France with the cosmopolitan sophistication of New York, reflecting owner Stephen Scaffidi’s drive to seek out new and distinct flavors for Modern European-style dishes. Standout dishes include the seared salmon & scallop, green tea soba noodles, assorted mushrooms and dashi broth, and the angel hair pasta with blue swimmer crab, tomato sugo, XV oil.