Why SSIXX is the Best News You’ve Heard All Year

Words by Jane Ryan

Photography by Supplied

Early next year The Everleigh’s owners Zara and Michael Madrusan, in collaboration with Aussie chef Peter Gunn (Ides) are creating a collision of culinary flavour, in synergy with four walls of floor-to-ceiling video art in a secret Melbourne location.

SSIXX is a cube, in an unknown location, with some pretty conceptual, creative concepts inside. It’s an experience, a blurring of art, food and drink that promises to transport its guests out of the everyday. But why does this cube matter to you?

Just two months ago designer and event specialist Phil Bucknell approached Zara and Michael with a big project that he needed a food and beverage partner for. They didn’t automatically say yes though. You probably don’t need to be told that this year has been the toughest ever for hospitality businesses, and not just financially. There’s a mental health toll that comes with trying to drag your and your employees’ livelihood through a pandemic. Even now, with more doughnut days under our belts than we once thought possible, the battle to balance the books isn’t over.

What Phil was proposing required thought, energy and creativity. “But maybe it’s exactly what we need,” Zara said of their decision to say yes. “It’s a great opportunity to have a creative outlet which we really haven’t had.”

That’s why the announcement for the seven-week installation and pop-up experience, running January 12th till February 28th 2021, is the best news you’ve heard coming out of the hospitality sector in 2020. They’ve rediscovered, even just for a short time, their mojo – and what a treat we’re all in for.

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Quick maths test – how many sides does a cube have?

It’s six, especially when you’re in it and the floor and ceiling are just as considered as the walls. To access SSIXX, 14 guests at a time will be transported to a secret location just as in experiences like Sleep No More or Future Cinema. The idea is pure, unadulterated escapism to shake off the remnants of home-cooked meals, home-shaken drinks and TV subbing for art for an entire year. If there’s no ticket to the gastronomic capitol of Leon in your impending future, SSIXX is here to remind you how to flex your tastebuds and eyes.

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“The project is about creating the content together, not just adding in food and drink,” says Zara. “Where do we start with that? We began thinking about what is The Everleigh inside this digital space? What could it be? Who is The Eveleigh in 10 years, what does she look like, what does the clientele look like? This brought us back full circle to what is it now? How do you describe your experiences there, and we chose to root the experience of The Everleigh in SSIXX in the familiarity of the bar because everything else so complex.”

Those familiar tough points are the textures and materials so iconic to The Everleigh’s design. Marble, wood, leather and ice.

“We don’t normally do weird and whacky stuff, there’s no smoke and mirrors when it comes to our drinks and we didn’t want to betray that. And as much as it’s futuristic we then needed to go back to the past first and find that timelessness that these old drinks which have been drunk for hundreds of years embody. By referencing these histories we can make a stab at what the future will look like,” says Zara.

Peter Gunn was chosen by Zara and Michael to come in and lead the food experience thanks to his established and loved theatrical approach to fine dining. “We, as a group, avoid the word pairing, but each course will see the drink and dish respond to everything inside the cube as well as each other,” says Zara.

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There'll be four courses of theatrical dishes from Peter including a version of his dramatic and rather famous Black Box dessert served at the Collingwood restaurant Ides. Wine will also feature alongside the cocktails.

SSIXX doesn’t exactly mean the hard times are over, or that we’re ‘back to normal.’ But it’s a sign that there’s still a place here for getting conceptual. For thinking. For making a drink that isn’t a takeaway bottle or designed to be sipped on a sofa. During 2020 many of us discovered the joy of couch cocktails but it’s brilliant to know there’s another choice coming our way.

“We want people to be able to feel like they’ve been on a journey, that they’ve been enriched in an opportunity to do something other-worldly, a departure from the every day,” says Zara. “We’re all going to be very aware of what we’ve been conditioned into for a long time to go. This is a chance to leave the world behind, embark on something completely different. To forget all the restricted boring things we’ve had to focus on, to finally indulge.”

Tickets for SSIXX are available from January 12th till February 28th with sitting running Tuesday - Sunday, at the following times:
3:45PM – 5:00PM
5:30PM – 6:45PM
7:15PM – 8:30PM
9:00PM – 10:15PM
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
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