Subiaco’s Al Fresco Bar Scene: The Top Places to Sip and Savour in Style

Subiaco’s al fresco bar life is booming – so where will you choose to pull up a chair, street-side, next? By Gail Williams.

Psst! Wanna spoil a wowser’s day? Just mention the revival of the *ahem* drinking den.

Subiaco, with its plethora of al fresco tipple options, is leading the charge. And – of course – we mean this in the most responsible way.

No, we are not talking about the beer-soaked drinking holes of old where punters scrambled to get a skinful before closing time.

We’re talking sitting outside, European-style, enjoying the passing parade while sipping on a spritz or a soothing gin and tonic after a workout at the gym or a hard day at the office.

The Italians have a word for it – two words actually. Aperitivo and Passagiata. Put them together and it means enjoying a drink before dinner while watching your neighbours go for their evening walk.

Where to do that in Subiaco? We’re so glad you asked!

Rock up to any of the following stylish hangouts at around 5pm and you, too, will be tempted to order a red sangria, aperol spritz, raspberry mojito or even an iced tea with a sprig of mint. That’s responsible, but sexy.

Subi Hotel

Truth be told, this grand old dame needs no address. She stands proud and tall on the corner of Hay and Rokeby sending all a welcoming message to come party on the pavement like there’s no tomorrow.

To see this old gal kicking up her heels in pure delight is one of the true joys of living in Subi.

Step inside the historic building, or take up a tall table al fresco and enjoy a Millionaire’s Margarita. At $22 this seductive mix of Don Julio tequila, Cointreau, agave, lime garnished with gold leaf is a bargain and will make you feel like the Queen (or King) of Subi.

La Condesa

Noisy! Did someone say noisy? Or was that boysy? Well, you can’t expect to be met by a wall of silence when Tulum meets So Cal Mexican cuisine and the tequila is flowing like Cusarare Falls.

Follow the carnivale to the old Oriel and frolic at the colourful bar stacked high with 100% agave tequilas and mezcals, promising to transport you to a sandy spot on the Caribbean coastline.

Their signature cocktail – Kinda Classic, a cooling mix of blanco spirit, triple sec, lime and agave – goes some way to  explaining why its so hard to get a table.

Gen X are loving it but so are Boomers who take out their hearing aids to revisit a misspent youth.

Koba

Koba is more zen than cacophonous and there’s much to love about the floral interior which is conducive to nursing its aptly-named signature cocktail, Much Love, while having a front row seat to Rokeby Road action.

Much Love is as pretty as it sounds: a colour-coded mix of prosecco, Malfy gin, lychee liquor and strawberry syrup.

A Negroni is welcome at any hour but here things get interesting when this Foggy Negroni comes with a serve of smoke. Oh, and a drop or two of mezcal to make you genuflect to the Negroni gods. 

El Peruvian Food Subiaco

Tantalising, refreshing and beautifully balanced, the pisco sour deserves its spot at the top of the Peruvian drinks list. At El Peruvian the drink is so revered that it even has its very own day, February 4. Lovers of lime, pisco and sugar know where to go for one of these palate cleansing bevvys shaken vigorously by Robyn Gaetjens or Ben Roux. At $21 a pop they are better value than what other outlets where $19 gets just one shot of pisco. And, the Angostura Bitters are placed in symetrical precision on top.

Shui

This newbie burst on to the scene just before Christmas but has the chutzpah to suggest it’s been there forever. Judging by the numbers downing bevvys on the pavement it has already become weekly ritual of indulgence for regulars.

Colourful types are immediately drawn to the Bird of Paradise – an exquisite blend of strawberry, blanco, lychee, pineapple and lime. We just call it “summer evening in a glass”.

The Village Bar

The good old Village was a drinking den way back when Subi was hitting its straps as a mega magnet for the trendy and when yuppies were but mere puppies. The drinks list has, like the friendly pub, evolved from a pint of lager to satisfy a worker’s thirst into French bubbles, no less – served in a flute of course.

Cocktails? There are more than a few with cleverly enticing names like Fruit Tingle, Flirtini and Passionfruit Desire.

There’s plenty of room for everyone in this tosser-free, unpretentious environment.

But that’s not to say the staff are not switched on full bottles on the winelist which includes Oyster Bay Pinot and Howard Park Cab Sauv. They just don’t give you a lecture on it or don a bow tie to pour it.

Bark

Today’s tip for dog owners: If you want to take doggie for a quick walk in Subi, it’s probably best to avoid the western end of Hay Street. Be warned, the staff know your doggie’s name and provide enough of a warm welcome that your doggie may never want to leave. Don’t worry, Fido or Kevin or Colin From Accounts – whatever your, sorry … Fur Babe is called … will not be offered alcoholic beverages. Shame because Bark (geddit?) offers the best dog owner drinks in town.

If you’ve never had a Pavlova in a Glass, now is the time to take the journey. You’ll never look back. It’s a tantalising drop made with Old Young’s Pavlova Vodka, Turkish Delight liqueur, passionfruit pulp, lemon and egg white.

One sip and if you had a tail you’d be wagging it.

Bar Amelie

Drinking Den does not really do this elegant, friendly and genteel place justice. Velvet booths and feminine artwork make it look more like the old fashioned “ladies lounge” where women swapped gossip and tittle-tattle while enjoying a shandy or a sherry.

Not any more. The ladies here kick up their heels with French martinis and Mojitos as they indulge on  the deck enjoying summer breezes and, yes, gossip.

There’s plenty of reasons to join them. BYO wine on Tuesdays is just one.

And maybe, just maybe, Speed Dating is another. Check out their Facebook page for deets.

Storehouse

It’s about time Subi showed that uppity Melbourne a thing or two about rooftop bars.

Melbourne might have its Harlow and its Full Moon Fever but sitting atop the Vibe Hotel looking over the Perth city skyline at sunset is not to be sneezed at. Especially when sinking their cheeky new cocktail,Violet Spritz, a gin based drink with floral and botanical notes.. That’s sunset in a glass in the form of Monkey 47, Crème de violet te, lemon., sugar and prosecco. Take up a tall table and watch the sun go down over Subi with a tall glass in hand. Suffer, Melbourne, suffer.

Honourable mentions

Squire’s Loft

Here’s one drinking den where you’ll spot Subi squires holding their pints of lager aloft in full revelry enjoying their knight – or night – out.

Fenway

They say burgers, beer and sports is what they do best but we reckon they do a damn good Long island Iced Tea. Yes, of course it comes with vodka, white rum, gin and tequila. Didn’t detect any tea.

The Unicorn Bar

We all know unicorns never horse around. They get right to the point. And you’ll spot a few at the bar after a couple of sneaky little Arnold Palmers (gin based cocktail  with a splash of iced tea) at this popular neighbourhood bar.

Lums

We’re all a little bit in love with Lums. Sit on the deck with a glass of vino from the curated wine list and you may never again opt for opening a bottle at home.

Juanita’s

Come as you are. Drink what you like. That’s how things roll at this joint that doubles as your own living room or deck. That’s why we love it.

Delisio

There’s always a pavement party happening here. And it’s definitely not a pity one. Choose from limoncello to vino rosso or a West Coast lager to get the party started.

Restaurant Caleb

Sneak away from the crowd up to one of Subi’s hidden rooftop secret bars and enjoy a Malibu Bay Breeze, a mix of rum, pineapple and cranberry juice.

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