After experimenting with star-studded TIFF pop-ups with Soho House to diamond drink tickets at The Thompson Hotel, Grey Goose preps for this weekend’s opening of its first Canadian lounge space inside Muzik nightclub in hopes of making you reach for the top shelf and join the international French vodka cult.
There’s a new cocktail haven in town. Well, sort of. Tuesday night marked the official unveiling of the first Canadian Grey Goose Lounge, housed in a pretty little corner inside Muzik nightclub (Medieval Times adjacent). Dubbed “an alternative to bottle service,” this new outpost for custom Goose creations aims to be intimate and accessible to lovers of the pricey vodka brand who would otherwise never have access to Goose-infused drinks (stellar, always), or those would never go to Muzik, period. It’s one of the smartest partnerships I’ve come across, but also one of which I can’t help but be super-skeptical.
One thing you can believe is that the Grey Goose Lounge is the complete anti-thesis of its host and the industry it represents. If you’ve ever been, you know that Muzik is a beast of a nightclub, clocking in at an interior square footage of 41,000 and a 3,000-person capacity. (In the summer, the patio accommodates an additional 5,600 people over 80,000 additional square feet.) It’s hard to feel totally comfortable in a venue that size. To counteract this, the Lounge, situated at the back of the main room, will be curtained off and accommodate only 35 people each evening.
“Muzik is a great partner because they’re our number-one account nationally—they’re a huge bottle-service account,” explains Grey Goose brand director Lisa Mazurkewich. “We saw an opportunity to create something more premium, something a little bit special, and the opportunity to get consumers to try great cocktails. It’s about creating a jewel of a space within this club, where you can have a totally different experience.”
On the outskirts of downtown, and only open on Saturday nights, Muzik is one of the most successful, yet sorely underused “mega clubs” that remain in the city, and I suppose that’s the appeal here. But to get people I’d actually want to hang out with to trek down to the Grey Goose Lounge would be a feat in and of itself, given all of Muzik’s club-y connotations. But that, we might soon find out, is the power of Grey Goose, and why this lounge makes sense. The Lounge “completely surpasses a typical nightclub experience,” Mazurkewich is quoted as saying in the official release.
The detail here is something to appreciate, from the glassware to the Goose-plated stir sticks to the herbs and fruits in each drink. And let’s be real: The drinks chart is the only important selling point in the Lounge. The brand tapped local mixologist Trevor Burnett to create five signature cocktails exclusively for the lounge that will be changed seasonally. The debut batch live up to the hype. Starting at $9.50 up to $18, standouts include the Eiffel Sour (featuring lime segments, simple syrup, St.Germain, and Perrier) and the C’est La Vie (featuring simple syrup, freshly squeezed lime juice, strawberries, basil leaves and dashes of black pepper). In addition, guests will enjoy rotating food pairings each weekend designed and prepared by Muzik and other caterers around the city. (Tuesday’s preview saw food from DYNE Restaurant on Avenue—bottomless caviar and Angus burgers FTW.)
The Joie de vivre: 1.5oz Grey Goose La Poire, 3 thinly sliced cucumbers, 0.25 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, 0.5 oz simple syrup, 0.75 oz Prosecco. Add cucumber slices to a shaker and muddle. Add ice, first four ingredients. Shake well. Add Prosecco into flute then pour cocktail over top. Photo: Cindy Brooks.
The Lounge is also operating behind a thick veil of exclusivity and, in the vein of places like the Soho House, will ship out membership cards starting this week. Unlike Soho, membership is ongoing and it’s free—and that’s a relief when you’re already paying hundreds a head to even sit down in a club like Muzik. The logistics of the Lounge are still being worked out, but it would go something like this: card holders can have unlimited access each Saturday from 9 p.m. onwards with the option to bring three guests, and a concierge will assist with reservations. What’s more interesting is that founding members will have the chance to refer co-workers or friends for future cards.
When Mazurkewich describes the Grey Goose Lounge as “stunning,” I would be inclined to agree. Designed in consultation with Muzik owner Zlatko Starkovski, the space is stark white, it boasts a six-foot chandelier and Italian furniture, it’s LED-lit, it’s clean—and a custom-crafted bar frames it all perfectly. The one thing to be said about Grey Goose is that it’s a stylish brand—in the vein of French fashion, some would say—with everything from the bottle to the marketing designed to uphold its exclusivity and sell its price point to people who can’t always afford it. Mazurkewich calls the Muzik lounge-within-a-lounge concept a “truly a bespoke space.”
The word “experience” is thrown around a lot in reference to this thing, wherein both parties are trying their best to make this idea completely distinguishable and, as far away as possible, from the bottle-service routine. And I can dig that, but I don’t get it. The texts and comments I got from a straw poll veered along the same impression: “It’s nice, but I would never come here.” It’s true: this destination is, well, a destination. How does Muzik’s Starkovski feel the vibe will differ from that in the club proper? “It will be more… social,” he thinks. “We cater to larger groups within the space, and this is more of a one-, two-person thing for people who want to experience something other than just a bar drink. It’s kind of a hangout, a quieter environment than we have in Muzik.”
The Lounge isn’t soooo separated from the labyrinth of a club, but it’s decidedly different. To its credit—even though the current clientele is RSVP-only, non-bottle service clubbers on a Tuesday night—the Goose hideaway feels less obnoxious, less busy, less exasperating. It just feels like somewhere you would actually want to be, whereas Muzik, well, not so much—at least not when it’s a public party. As for access, I ask Starkovski straight up: Are we talking, like, “Oh, I’m on the list but it’s a 45-minute wait”-type thing? “No, absolutely not,” he replies. “We’re organized, we’ll get members in.” Like a Yonge-Bloor station that functions properly during rush hour, I guess you can’t believe it until you see it.
Since the start of 2013, the Goose has been going hard at trying to lure the young and impressionable to its brand. A few weeks ago, the new cherry-infused flavour, Cherry Noir, popped off with a big-ass party at the Thompson Hotel, where etched diamonds served as drink tickets, though you could barely find an opportunity to use them since the bar was so rammed. A sure thing (or a sad thing, I can’t decide) is that, like many, I will never skip an opportunity to do something Goose-sponsored because everything is so meticulously considered and crafted. Grey Goose is a great vodka—there, I said it and meant it—and if you think differently, just shut up. It doesn’t really taste like much, which makes it both sinister and superior. (In #firstworldproblems GIF terms: When you roll into a party to find out it’s a Goose open bar and not, like, Iceberg.)
“I really think of the Grey Goose consumer as leaders in life, lovers of life, people who are out, who want and demand the best, who want new and exciting experiences, who are constantly searching to exceed expectations,” elaborates Mazurkewich of the Canadian invasion. “And what that looks like varies throughout your life. So, with Cherry Noir and a strong presence in clubs, that will target a younger demographic.”
The Grey Goose Lounge opens within Muzik this Saturday. If you could, would you go?
Muzik nightclub, 15 Saskatchewan Road. @MuzikClubs; #GreyGooseatMuzik