Let’s be blunt: on Melbourne Cup day most of you are going to drink cheap champagne while watching the office telly and crossing your fingers you’ll win the sweepstakes that Beryl from accounting set up. Hey, that’s how I’ve spent most of my Melbourne Cup days.
However, for those planning on celebrating in style we were going to provide a long list of cool party venues but, quite frankly, the thought bored the hell out of us and we put it off. And off. In fact, we were so tardy that by now a lot of those places, such as the Café Sydney party hosted by Deborah Hutton, have already sold out. Hey, we had bets to place and cocktails to drink, bitch. So here’s our last minute top 6 picks for Melbourne Cup parties that can still be booked – at the time of posting (October 26) they all had spots free:
1) The Argyle – this is probably the quirkiest Melbourne Cup venue, as the organisers say they’ll transform the bar into “Sydney’s very own virtual Flemington”. Upstairs will simulate a grandstand area, where for $99 per person (group bookings only) you can have a gourmet picnic lunch (served in a picnic basket that includes roast pumpkin, fetta and baby spinach frittata, honey and soy chicken drumsticks, rare roast beef, and scones with jam and whipped cream) and your own sectioned off area, complete with picket fences, as well as three hours of beer, wine and bubbly while you watch the action on big screens.
Meanwhile, the downstairs area will become The Stable, where for $45 per person you’ll get a cocktail and there’ll be food stalls and roving TAB agents available for three hours. There will also be prizes for the best dressed guests. The after party then kicks off at 4pm. The Argyle, 18 Argyle Street, The Rocks.
2) Ivy – held on the second floor lounge and lawn bar area, Ivy’s Melbourne Cup party costs $95 a person. For that you get Domaine Chandon Vintage, Boag’s Pure and cocktails served from noon until race time (4pm), as well as modern Asian canapes from Teppanyaki, Melbourne Cup post-race sweepstakes, best dressed and best hat prizes. After 4pm, partygoers can have a boogie. Ivy, 330 George Street. Phone 9240 3000 or email email@example.com
3) Astral Bar – Star City arguably offers the largest screen for you to watch the race on thanks to the 18-metre whopper on the main gaming floor next to Trophies Bar, but if you want to celebrate in class then you might want to try the Astral Bar (Astral Restaurant is already booked out for the day). For $135 per person there’s the resident DJ, bubbles and Bellinis, canapes and French pastries on the outdoor terrace. From 12pm to 4PM. Star City, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont. Phone 1800 700 700.
4) The Local Taphouse – This Darlinghurst beer bar is hosting a Melbourne Cup lunch sponsored by James Squire (who will have Sundowner on tap). For $50 per person there’s a three-course set menu with options including a charcuterie board, scotch fillet or swordfish and double chocolate stout mousse (you can see the full menu here). The Local Taphouse, 122 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 9360 0088 to book.
5) Wildfire – Claiming to be Sydney’s most exclusive Melbourne Cup celebration, Wildfire has already booked out its banquet lunch but still has tickets left for the Moet & Chandon Garden Party. At $99 per person, it’ll be held on the terrace and includes a glass of Moet & Chandon Champagne upon arrival, canapés until the main race, entertainment by jazz group Doug Williams and The Mix and a fashion show by Camilla Franks. Prizes include two business class tickets with Emirates, a weekend drive package from Saab, a Camilla Franks kaftan and a magnum of Moet & Chandon champagne. Wildfire, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay. Phone 8273 1222 or email@example.com. 12 Noon – 4pm
6) Victoria Room – Calling their shindig a “girly garden party”, The Victoria Room is laying out the turf, picket fences and roses for a ladies day out. It costs $75 per person for afternoon tea and champagne. Level 1, 235 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst. Phone 9357 4488.
And for those who decide to go it alone, here’s the recipe for the Chambord Kir Royale, which some say is the Melbourne Cup cocktail (we actually can’t find any hard evidence of this, but any excuse for a cocktail sounds good to us):
Fill a flute with champagne and top with Chambord (a French black raspberry liqueur) to taste. Yes, it’s that simple. (Actually, some people argue that you should pour the Chambord in first and then top with champagne – but hey, whatever works.)