Perth’s cocktail bars hold a hidden treasure trove of drinks to explore. It could be a preferred staff cocktail no longer on the menu, or maybe never even made it on. Perhaps you have to know where to sit to be eligible to order it. Perhaps you just need to ask.
In partnership with World Class, we uncover some secrets of Perth’s best cocktail bars to try next time you’re out.
Varnish on King
Off-menu cocktail: The Bijoux
If the smell of bacon hasn’t already lured you into Varnish on King, found belowground on one of Perth’s favourite streets, then perhaps its cocktail creations will. Known for the Whiskey Bacon Flight (a whiskey tasting with matching bacon), this American-inspired small bar doesn’t just serve the neat stuff for aficionados – its impressive menu feature cocktails, both on and off the menu.
One of those unmentioned cocktail highlights is The Bijoux. Bar manager Fiona Sham says it’s a fresh take on the spirit, featuring Bulleit Bourbon Rye whiskey, Pavan muscat liqueur, house-made strawberry puree, gomme syrup, egg white, a dash of plum bitters, and lime, and finished with a peel of grapefruit.
Off-menu cocktail: Good Morning Maria
The bartenders at El Publico, on Beaufort Street in Highgate, are known for serving high-quality tequila straight up, encouraging people to sip on it like you would a good whisky. But they also know how to work it into a cocktail without losing the drink’s distinct characteristics.
One to try is an off-menu twist on the Bloody Mary. Using Don Julio Blanco tequila, they stir in their in-house Sangrita tomato chaser, chilli liqueur, lemon juice, sugar syrup, a dash of house-made hot sauce, sweetened soy sauce, and garnish with lemon, chilli salt, an arbol chilli and the Latin-American herb epazote. Paired with banana-battered beef brisket mogo mogo balls with chipotle crema, it’s all you need to dive deep into one of the best Mexican joints in town.
Daddy Long Legs
Off-menu cocktail: The Beekeeper
If you find yourself south of the river, Daddy Long Legs in East Victoria Park is the perfect spot for a drink any night of the week. The upmarket bar’s food and drink creations shine in the unpretentious space, but it’s what’s not on the menu that’s well worth a try.
Like The Beekeeper. Originally made for the bar’s first cocktail and dessert degustation (one of many in-house events), The Beekeeper is venue manager and barman Peter Van Zeller’s creation. Those who tried it with honey ice-cream and dark chocolate soil continue to request it. You should too. Made with Bulleit Bourbon Rye whiskey, fat-washed with clarified butter, hazelnut liqueur, spiced honey syrup and lemon bitters, it’s finished with honey and hazelnut brittle, on the rocks.
Off-menu cocktail: The Lazy Daisy
Reading at the bar is encouraged at Fremantle favourite Strange Company. As is ordering a drink while you’re at it. The cocktail menu here is constantly rotating – some are “but a flash in the pan”, according to co-owner Darcy Travers. One of those is The Lazy Daisy, which had some time in the limelight last spring, but remains a favourite for many despite its absence.
It’s a variation on the classic Last Word, created by one of the bar managers, Rachel Green. It mixes Tanqueray gin, lime juice, elderflower liqueur, sugar syrup, bitters and French liqueur.
Off-menu cocktail: Tony’s Manhattan
If you’ve ever had the privilege of being shown where to find Sneaky Tony’s in Chinatown, you’ll know the journey is worth the visit in itself. The venue is an authentic, Prohibition-style rum bar with a hint of theatricality. Memorise the night’s password via social media, knock a few times for entry, say the magic words, then head to the bar and order owner Clint Nolan’s favourite off-menu creation – a Tony’s Manhattan.
Instead of using the traditional bourbon for a Manhattan, Nolan uses rum. Served in a small coupe, the bar adds vermouth, cherry liqueur, a dash of Tony’s house-made bitters, and tops with a house-cured cherry. Tip your bartender and they’ll ring the bell in appreciation.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with World Class Drinking.