Small bars have exploded onto the Perth bar scene in recent years, giving rise to the small bar culture that is currently enveloping Perth’s nightlife.

Following the State Government’s major liquor licensing reform in 2007, a wave of small bars began to pop-up throughout the City in an endeavour to capitalise on Perth’s drinking culture. Since then the amount of small bars within Perth has flourished, paving the way for a different approach to ‘catching up for a drink at the pub’. Perth’s eclectic mix of small bars allow for more diversity and choice when choosing where to go for a drink.

Achieving a unique style and drinking experience has been at the forefront of recent small bars appearing in the City. And with this, challenging the notion of what can be delivered within a small bar space. The addition of tapas style food and themed bars have pushed the evolution of small bars within Perth to a new level. The extent of which, has not seen a limit.

However, are we reaching the limit of growth a city like Perth can have in this ‘small bar market’? There are currently over 50 small bars operating within the City, each with varying levels of patronage and popularity. The Small Bar Association of W.A. Inc. (SBA) identifies the small bar scene as the most rapidly growing category in the hospitality industry and an important focal point of the liquor industry. It is no illusion that over-saturation of the ‘small bar market’ is a possible threat that could impend the growth of this sector in Perth’s night-time economy and lead to its decline.

There are a number of factors which correlate to the success of small bars within the City of Perth, relying heavily on location and patronage more so than their larger pub counterparts. The SBA has introduced the ‘Small Bar of the Year’ award, presenting recognition to the most popular small bar as voted by the public and the best small bar as voted by industry judges. The 2013 winners can be seen here.

The future of Perth’s small bar scene is yet to be foreseen. As the popularity of these venues increases there will be a need to diversify further and offer new and innovative ways to deliver an engaging experience to the City of Perth.

What has been your experience with small bars within the City? Perth Urbanist has created an interactive small bar map, allowing you to rate and explore other small bars throughout Perth. You can view it here.