As we’ve written extensively, Michael and Zara Madrusan do escapism in a way few people in this city can match. Their bars, the Everleigh, Heartbreaker and Margaux are convincing, highly detailed portals to other places and times – without feeling kitschy or contrived.
So when designer and event specialist Phil Bucknell (Batik, Homme & Femme) needed a food and drink partner for his new concept – Ssixx, a purpose-built cube filled with abstract soundscapes and visual projections – the Madrusans were a natural fit. They in turn asked Ides owner and chef Pete Gunn to devise the food menu.
The result, due to serve its first guests on January 12, is Ssixx Presents Everleigh-After, a conceptual pop-up blending visual art, music, food and drink, and exploring the mash-up of old and new. It’ll be built from scratch at a yet-to-be-confirmed location, and receive up to 14 people at time for an hour and 15 minute sittings.
“The Everleigh, for us, is a lot about history and classic cocktail culture and escaping to this other world of the past,” Zara says. “Obviously working with digital projection is quite futuristic for us. The whole idea is, ‘How does the Everleigh evolve into something futuristic when really, the [original ]concept is about a time gone by?’
“We started talking about the textures, scents, feelings of the bar itself and what you experience when you’re in there. And those core elements of the physical bar became the founding blocks of how we started to approach the menu and the experience as a whole.”
Those “founding blocks” are marble, timber, leather and ice, four of the most common textures found at the Everleigh. Gunn is working on four theatrical courses (including a version of his dramatic Black Box dessert), each informed and inspired by these materials, while the Madrusans are planning matched cocktails, wines and more.
“It’s the most exciting project we’ve had in a while,” Michael says. “It’s the perfect exercise for us to break down our four walls and show people what we can do outside the Everleigh, but still maintain our basic principles and the way we approach things.”
Beyond food and drinks, the Madrusans are also looking at aspects such as scents, staff uniforms and the fit-out inside the cube. They want the experience to delight all the senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste, with Bucknell’s abstract sounds and visual projections on the ceiling, floor and all four walls playing a starring role.
“We’ve come out of seven months of depressing lockdown … We all need to have a bit of an escape right now,” Zara says. “And it dawned on us that this was our opportunity to give that to people.”
Ssixx Presents Everleigh-After will be open from Tuesday to Sunday, from January 12 to February 28. Tickets are $261.98 for a one hour and 15 minute experience, or $364.45 for After Dark, an extended sitting held on Friday and Saturday nights. Book here.