5 of Perth’s best bars for late nights

Explore West Australian wines at these fab five Perth bars.

In Perth’s best bars, you’ll find some great wine lists, embracing the international and the local, from the world-renowned cabernets of Margaret River to the pinots of Pemberton.

And with ‘natural’ wines on the rise, with their chemical-free, minimal-intervention methods, there’s a whole new realm of good stuff to explore.

Mechanics’ Institute

It’s been named Australia’s best small bar, and in its six years of operation, the Mechanics’ Institute has become an institution for fun-loving Perthites.

Head down an alley and up the stairs for cocktails, craft beers and a wine list that incorporates West Australian wineries such as the biodynamic Cullen in Margaret River and the family-owned Forest Hill in the Great Southern. Natural wines will be hitting the list soon, according to venue manager Shane Allchurch, who says the bar offers “very chilled, easygoing, super-fun vibes”.

Mechanics Institute, Northbridge
Photo: Mechanics Institute, Northbridge

New Normal

Local, seasonal produce and a minimal waste policy are part of the philosophy at New Normal, an eco-conscious, community-focused wine bar in the funky urban village of Subiaco.

The wine list features only wines of the South West, including the conventional and the left-of-centre. Try an ‘orange wine’ (a white made like a red, with the skins intact) such as the Brave New Wine Doppelganger from Denmark, or a pink, bubbly, cloudy petillant from Margaret River, whose creator, the biodynamic Blind Corner winery, says is “like unicorn tears filtered through weaves of angel hair”.

New Normal Bar + Kitchen, Subiaco
Photo: New Normal Bar + Kitchen, Subiaco

Wine Rooms by Harvey Leigh’s

Award-winning sommelier Dan Wegener recently left Cottesloe institution, Il Lido to set up Harvey Leigh’s, a 60-seater wine bar and bistro with a French farmhouse vibe. The emphasis is very much on natural wines, including local selections from the likes of tripe.Iscariot of Margaret River and La Violetta in the Great Southern region.

“For me, the perfect wine is a natural wine,” Wegener says. “If a vineyard is in balance and picked at the right time, you should be able to deliver it without alteration.”

Wine Rooms by Harvey Leigh's
Photo: Wine Rooms by Harvey Leigh's

Strange Company

Fremantle’s West End is the home for Strange Company: a sleek, stylish-but-friendly wine bar offering some terrific tapas, live music and a drinks list that embraces a great range of craft beers, some well-priced cocktails and a wine list helpfully divided into sections such as ‘light’, ‘funky’ and ‘heavy’.

Try an Express Winemakers orange Riesling from the Great Southern region, a top-end Picardy pinot noir from Pemberton, or a minimal-intervention Warner Glen red from Margaret River’s Sam Vinciullo.

Strange Company, Fremantle
Photo: Strange Company, Fremantle

Lalla Rookh Wine Store

If you’ve ever been browsing in a great wine shop and wished you could sit down and crack open a bottle or two, you’re going to love Lalla Rookh. This cosy, 27-seat bar within a bottle shop offers hundreds of wines – with dozens available to drink by the glass – from rare burgundies to low-intervention locals.

You get access to the Italian menu from the next-door Lalla Rookh Bar & Eating House too, so order the il Capo feast (six shared plates) and settle in.

Lalla Rookh
Photo: Lalla Rookh

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Fleur Bainger is a freelance travel and food journalist. She lives in the inner-city village of Leederville, which she loves for its wide open spaces, hip cafes and boutique clothing shops. Here she shares her local tips if you've got three days to spend in Perth.

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