Groucho Marx once quipped he didn’t want to join any club that would have him as a member – and as I enter the Ivy complex with the plan of infiltrating their members-only Pool Club I can’t help thinking about that phrase.
My mission began a few weeks back when my wingwoman, a stunning femme fatale who oozes sex appeal from every pore, expressed a desire to go to the Pool Club. Wanting to seem like a well-connected man about town I told her it would be no problem and then, as sweat dripped down my brow, began to wonder how to make this happen.
You see, even though the Pool Club features on Ivy’s website the truth is that the average Joe can’t see it unless they either have the dosh to book a private party there or are a celebrity or member. In an attempt to earn some bar cred with wingwoman I then called Merivale, the company behind Ivy, and asked how I could become a member only to be told there is no process and that it’s up to management’s discretion. When I asked how I could go about that the receptionist put me through to someone’s voicemail. Not surprisingly, I left a message and never heard back.
Of course, I didn’t confide any of this to wingwoman who, two weeks later, accompanies me in a stunning outfit and tells me how much she’s looking forward to checking out the Pool Club.
I attempt a smile as my nervous tick kicks in and suggest we have a cocktail on the main floor first before we get wet.
The main floor is up the first flight of stairs and is impressive in its own right. On the left as you enter there’s a long marble-topped counter with what looks like vacuum tubes acting as lights above it and, toward the back, a sunken area with lounge chairs, retro furniture (including enamel-topped coffee tables) and turquoise carpet that looks like a hip portion of the Brady Bunch’s family home. In the middle you’ve got the smoking courtyard that looks a little like a wealthy gran’s backyard, complete with deck chairs, umbrellas and fountains, and on the right there’s yet another bar complete with marble counter. There’s also a kitchen here plus the Mad Cow New York-style grill restaurant and everywhere you look you’ll find pot plants and other greenery.
I order the Lynchburg Lemonade, made from Jack Daniels (which comes from Lynchburg, Tennessee), Cointreau, lemon juice and lemonade while wingwoman chooses a mojito (Havana Club Anejo Blanco rum with muddled mint and lime, topped with soda). The Lynchburg Lemonade is strong and the Jack Daniels gives the drink a nice yet subtle edge. The mojito, however, is the stand out – even though Bar Zine believes mojitos usually taste better in a short glass with a minimum of soda water, this mojito shows that the tall version can work well if done right.
We also grab a chicken burger and some fries from the kitchen, both of which come out in generous portions. The fries are crinkle cut, reminding me of my long lost childhood, and wingwoman assures me her burger is good, although she’d have preferred a sourdough bun and less bacon.
She’s even more impressed by the décor, especially the spiral staircase that takes us up to the next floor where we find the Lawn Bar. This has a small strip of lawn with a sprinkler above it and the website shows a picture of a girl underneath it with an umbrella – although one of the barmen later confides that he’s never seen it in use except during photo shoots and other special occasions.
Past the Lawn Bar and up a few steps you can find the Ivy Lounge, which is swankier than the previous bars thanks to its darker décor and chandelier. In the next room, however, you’ll find The Den, which looks even more posh thanks to the sumptuous green sofas and cushions and black and silver floral mirrors.
After a few glasses of wine I break down and confess to wingwoman that I’m not a member and have no idea how to get into the Pool Club, whereupon wingwoman decides her feminine wiles might be enough to get us in anyway. After all, it is a Tuesday night and wingwoman has her mojo.
The Pool Club is in the neighboring building and so we head down to street level where wingwoman bats her eyelashes and blinds the doorman with her charm while I hide behind her and hope they don’t notice me. The doorman doesn’t know what hits him and tells her to go through and we race to the elevator before he spots me and changes his mind.
The Pool Club’s aim is to make you feel like you’re in St Tropez or Palm Springs, with several palm trees that wingwoman assures me would have cost a fortune, a 25-metre pool and a sofa and several cabanas that look out on it. Uccello, an upmarket Italian restaurant, is also on this floor.
I’m just about to strip off and demonstrate some aquatic feats of skill to the A-listers lounging around the pool (and what looks to be a female lifesaver in a Baywatch-style skimpy red bikini that has a water bottle affixed to her derriere) when wingwoman’s mobile rings and her boyfriend summons her back to base camp. Hey, you didn’t really think a glamazon like that would date a schmuck like me, did you?
And that’s the end of our adventure – although there is more information to impart. Firstly, if you arrive on a Friday or Saturday night then be prepared to queue before you can get in (if you get in), plus there may be a $20 cover charge – at least, there was when I tried to go there on the previous Saturday night.
Those after a more casual drink can also try The Royal George, a British style gastro pub facing onto George Street that has chesterfield sofas, a pool table and great pub grub – I especially recommend the steak.
Ivy, 330 George Street, Sydney. Phone 9240 3000 or see the Ivy website.
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Ivy?