Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Marble Bar

Level B1, Hilton Sydney Hotel, 488 George Street Sydney

(No idea what we’re doing? Look at that link, top right there, after the word ‘Alfie’. Theeeeere you go.)

Aaaaaaaah, crap.

We slept through our alarm.

For like.


Two years.

Look, we realise you’re a little angry right now, that you think we deserted you, that we moved on with someone younger and prettier, with perter buttocks*. Someone that doesn’t ask so many questions, like ‘why don’t you do any reviews of bars that aren’t in the deck of cards’, and ‘do snakes float if they hold their breath’. Or you think that we’ve been out there leading spectacular lives, and don’t think you’re special any more.


Truth be told, we kinda missed just catching up with each other without having to take notes about every f@#king little thing.

That, and we’re sort of crap.

Don’t get us wrong, we’ve still been drinking in that time, but we got so distracted we lost sight of what was important.

You, our readers.

Both of you.

From the bottom of our hearts we apologise. See?

Never been to acting school, but NAILED IT.

But good news: we’re back!

I know, it's like someone just suggested we have crunchy AND soft tacos.

To kick things off, we decided that we’d go to the first bar in the pack. Marble Bar, and bring our elegant compadre Lucia along. For a lot of people Marble Bar will dredge up memories of when you first left school and you thought that you would go to a cool, fancy bar because you totally could do that because you’re a grown-up now, and you don’t answer to nobody or nuthink. Where you could spend heaps on a drink, before you realised that you need to get a job to support that kind of behaviour. To other people it might be the place that you have definitely been to before, you just can’t remember when it was or with who. It’s ok, that happens (Hint: it was that guy with the thing on his lip).
Which you couldn't see, because this shit be DARK.

Located in the basement of the Hilton, Marble Bar is, well, a bar made of marble. See?

Jo loves anything that's cold with drinks in it like she is.

When we first walked in, Lorin wondered if Versace had thrown up in this place. Two days later, Jo sent an email saying ‘Hey, you know how you said Versace threw up? We could, like, say that he threw up after eating Rococo Pops. ROCOCO POPS, LORIN’ because she’s borderline mentally touched and should be studied. Lucia commented that the ambience was “lecherous, like sodomy you could only get in the 17th Century”. Seriously, this is why we drink – without booze we’re just eighty percent ridiculous analogies, forty percent carbs and eight percent mad sick maths skills.

Anyway, you have never been faced with this much marble. FACT.

DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE ROCKS THAT THEY GOT. Once we sat down and looked around, though, we were kind of impressed with how ridiculously ornate and detailed the décor is, and how many representations there are of boobies around the joint. The walls are adorned with oil paintings, the lighting is dark but not dingy and we got the overwhelming feeling we were in a monk den. Yeah, that’s right - a monk den. Not a monastery. We like our monks feisty and a little drunk.
This monk, he's gone to heaven.

Surveying the intricately carved bar (of which there are two, one flanking each side wall), we pondered the incredible work that the carpenter of such swirly magnificence had completed. “I bet he was relieved by the time he got to the tits, huh” said Jo. See, at knee height, there are carved figurehead-style ladies with no tops or bras on – Lorin even bruised her knee on a boob while she was crossing her legs.

It made her go all cross-eyed and blurry and nude.

Less enchanting, though, was Creepy Kid Nook.
It’s a kid. Who is creepy. In a nook. THIS BAR TOTALLY HAS EVERYTHING.

Like gin. And nightmares.

We’ve never seen both of the bars manned and serving at the same time, but in Lorin’s head they’re duelling bars, and that’s final. With only one operating, it creates a good space in the room. People can stand and chat at the bar and the opposing side of the room allows for people to sit at tables with their group, or in the middle of the room on lounges in front of the band area. It's roomy and cosy at the same time, like a jacuzzi at a ski lodge.

ROCK AND OR ROLL ISH. Speaking of the music, at first it’s fairly inoffensive, we-think-this-might-be-one-of-the-barstaff’s-ipods rock, while the band sets up. As the band sets up, we spy the singer and Lorin is ninety percent sure that he’s an ex-Australian Idol finalist. In a fedora, obviously. Her money is on funky soul covers for the rest of the night, but Jo reckons thrash metal and goes back to her maths. Check, please.

SUITS YOU, SIR The clientele is what you would expect for a CBD bar on a Thursday night. Suits and more suits, with a smattering of hotel guests mixed in, due to the whole in-a-hotel thang. And wait, we recognise the aftershave that the guy who spends the whole night with his elbows on the bar, facing into the room, staring at every female in the place is wearing… it’s… is it… it’s Paco Rabanne’s Douche, isn’t it? Some people know that a dark bar is the only place they’ll have half a chance of having a good night**.

LAYING SOME LONG DISTANCE CABLE: If you need to go to the toilet at Marble Bar, best to start walking about half an hour before you last went. Situated outside of the bar proper through a rabbit warren of halls and stairs, this could really work if there was some kind of a glamour pay-off at the other end. There isn't. You are automatically brought back to the real world and the fact you’re in a hotel. What makes this worse is that it could be any average hotel, not the Hilton. We suddenly feel anxious that we’ve blacked out and woken up at a conference without any highlighters, inane chit-chat or getting-to-know-you trust games. The bathrooms, readers, are meh.

There are no extra touches to enhance the experience inside the bathrooms. Where are our nice hand towels and scented soaps? As Lorin noted, “If you can afford a creepy kid in a hole, you can afford f*cking hand towels”. We think Lucia said it best “Single ply? Nice try.” Worse still, we had to fix the soap dispenser and the cleaners had just been in there. Yeah, that’s right. We go places. We fix stuff. We’re like your neighbourhood handy-ninjas.
This is the forgotten corner of a 5 star hotel. It is the Kevin McCallister of amenities. Look it up.

ON THE ROCKS The menu at Marble Bar is extensive and appropriately sectioned, with pages titled ‘Classic Cocktails’ (including a Sazerac – first made in 1793 and strained into an absinthe-coated brandy balloon, if you please), ‘Premium Classics’ (where an old-fashioned is thirty bucks), ‘Twisted Classics’ (like a lychee and rose martini), ‘Tall’, ‘Sparkling’, Sour’, and a whole page each of Martinis and Whiskeys. There is also a whole page each for fifteen different pictures of paintings of bottoms.

We counted the bottoms. And now you love us more.
The wine list, although fairly small, is really quite great. Everything is local except for the champagne - exactly how it should be for a flagship hotel. Bottles range from the affordable up to the ridiculous so they have tried to cater for everyone, including Douche-Face McSuiterson at the bar there.

Bar snacks, from the nutty to the substantial, are available and pricy – from a ten dollar bowl of nuts to $28 for lamb cutlets. We didn’t eat while we were there, but we did smell other people’s food, which made its way down from the hotel, and it smelled incredible. We know, we know. We shouldn’t smell other people’s food, but once you’ve bruised your knee on a carved tit it’s in for a penny, in for a pound.

DRINKY DRINKY: LORIN Vodka & Dry. While the alcohol on offer in this place is obviously good, I still would like to be asked which brand I would prefer. I know that sounds fussy, but alcohol is the one area of my life where I actually am. Wow, I just re-read that and it’s really quite sad. John our barman didn’t ask. He poured and he poured me a Stolichnaya... for those of you playing at home, this is my least favourite of the vodkas. Jo on the other hand was automatically given Tanqueray. Half a win for John. My dry ginger ale was flat, I also didn’t get a garnish. It’s really quite simple, just add fresh lime to everything and you’re bound to win. Not so happy with my standard.
Yeah, arranging yourself symmetrically doesn't make it right, y'know.

Drink two- It’s at this point I usually like to ask the bar tender to suggest a cocktail for me. It gives them a chance to flex their tending muscles and impress, and also saves me trawling through the 50 page menu. I’m lazy, you should already know that about me. John asked if I like sweet or sour- check, I said sour, he suggested a margarita. Dude, you have an extensive list of some impressive drinks and you go to a margie? Too standard, John, come on. He then suggested the Zaitochi. My ears pricked up a little here. Smirnoff, ginger liquor, cucumber, lemon and wasabi. DING DING DING DING. Oh John, just when I had written you off you go and TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF. Holy mother of god, it is good. It is a perfect balance of flavours, just sour enough with the wasabi adding only a subtle but awesome kick. I win life.


DRINKY DRINKY: JO For my standard, a gin and tonic, I was in the loo at ordering time, so Lorin had time to order my drink, pay, take notes, get a mani/pedi and re-type the bible. Those bitches are FAR AWAY. When I got back I found an extremely average, yet plentiful, gin and tonic, with a pretty good gin/tonic/ice ratio and a tiny slice of lime shaved from the side of a midget lime’s pet lime. I can’t really explain why, but I hated the glass. This is a bar that seemingly sources its décor directly from God’s most intricately carved and favourite testicle, and its standard drink glassware from a two dollar shop on a train line.

They had a two-for-one special on glasses and laminex tables.

For my cocktail, I steered away from my normal martini fetish, as my tastes, unlike my ability to draw a cock n’ balls in every inflight magazine I see, have reached a little maturity over the last couple of years. I chose an Old Fashioned (rye whisky, bitters, sugar, soda, and a great wodge of fragrant orange rind), and due to the massive variety available at Marble Bar, asked barkeep John to delight me. He totally came through.
The only thing old fashioned about this is my PANTS or something.

In a gorgeous, satisfyingly palm-weighting glass, he presented a beautiful, sexy, hair-on-chest drink that would smoke a cigar and objectify boobs if it could. I was excited to drink it. I was chucked under the chin by its strength. I was upset when it was gone.




DRINKY DRINKY: LUCIA Not bound by the conventions/neck-albatrosses of bar reviewing, Lucia went sweet and chose a Wizard Of Oz to start (sparkling wine with raspberry & vanilla) and an Island Sweet for her main meal (vodka, gin, tequila, white rum, Cointreau, lemon & lime juice topped with Vanilla Coke). She really, really should have been drunker, but it just made her more adorable. Granted, she started off the night with a comment about historical sodomy, so the only way was up, sure.

Mmmmm. Sodomy.

I'm amdorables, wheeeeeee

The Marble bar kind of confuses us. Visually it wants to be pretentious but then it tries to be middle ground and accessible to everyone. It’s a bit like Paris Hilton – it looks fancy, but doesn’t follow through with enough substance and usually has too many blokes inside it. It was good, but given the choices available in Sydney, there’s probably not any reason for us to go back. Except maybe for the thrash metal, obviously.

We’re giving it 2 and a quarter carved wooden tits out of five.