The Los Angeles Athletic Club’s renovated Blue Room, which was unveiled recently to a few lucky club members and media types, may be the hardest bar in the city to get into. Not only does it have a secret entrance (it’s on the third floor behind a bookcase by the club’s Invention Bar) but you have to be either one of its 20 inaugural “Uplifters” members or recommended by one of its 20 inaugural “Uplifters” members to gain access.
The Uplifters Club originated as a men’s social club in LAAC in 1913; its prestigious members included the likes of Walt Disney, Clark Gable, and Will Rogers. Hyperbolic L. Frank Baum, member and author of The Wizard of Oz stories, came up with the group’s name, The Lofty and Exalted Order of Uplifters, which sounds an awful lot like “The Great and Powerful Oz.” That men’s club moved to Rustic Canyon in 1920, but now has been relaunched along with the Blue Room.
Today’s inaugural Uplifters were chosen by LAAC Assistant General Manager Cory Hathaway and Chair of the Uplifters Eva Goicochea. And they tapped not only collaborators of the athletic club—those who work on the club’s website, photography, retail, etc.—but LAAC members in creative fields, from furniture designers to distillers.
The new bar is part of the LAAC’s multi-million-dollar makeover encompassing its fourth, fifth, and sixth floors. The gym and athletic spaces will be updated and include a spa, retail corridor, and expanded wet facilities like hydrotherapy, steam, and sauna. It was thanks to this project that the secret staircase connecting the third floor to the fourth was unearthed. The last time it was used was during the Prohibition in the 1920s. Now it’s the main entrance to the private bar.
The old-timey drinking space was created in a mere month from the remnants of a generic conference room. Vintage athletic equipment and designer leather furniture by Timothy Oulton adorn the space, antique gym lockers are used as liquor lockers, and there’s even a shoe shine guy to polish your Oxfords.
As for that cocktail program, cocktail consultants Liquid Assets say it’s still in the works. But it will be an abbreviated version of Invention’s menu with top-shelf liquor. For now Uplifter members can grab drinks downstairs and enjoy it up in the space. And thanks to a partnership with The Macallan, the scotches will be available by the bottle for the liquor lockers and featured behind the bar. Flights will include Macallan 12-year Sherry Cask, Macallan 15-year Fine Oak, Macallan 18-year Sherry, and Macallan Rare Cask.
The Blue Room can also be booked for events and will host guest bartender series, tastings and craft cocktail classes.
For those who can only wonder, membership fees for Uplifters range from $109 to $173 a month, depending on age.
Blue Room at Los Angeles Athletic Club, 431 W. 7th St., Downtown, laac.com