Embrace the VIP lifestyle (or just get a drink) at this members-only pool club in Philadelphia – PennLive
Tucked behind walls of green ivy is a summertime treasure. Only a yellow umbrella and bouncer give away hints of what lies inside — a private members-only dayclub for those 21 and up that once catered exclusively to VIPs and the social media elite.
Vesper Dayclub in Philadelphia offered the kind of pool experience you see in Hollywood movies, or in reality television series like “Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club” — all about the exclusivity, the party and the VIP. Private bungalows, rentable day beds and champagne bottle service made it easy to go through $1,000 in a few minutes, all while surrounded by fellow members chosen because of their social media profiles and appearances.
That’s not the case any longer.
The $1,000+ a day bungalows are still there and so is the Instagram-worthy bottle service — but the membership requirements have relaxed. No longer do applicants have to share a recent photo of their face when they apply. Social media handles are still asked for, but that intel is less for reviewing to find the “right” kind of member and more about providing the club information on how to get in touch with you.
With that change, the focus has also shifted to be more about the general admission customer rather than just the VIPs who order bottle service and rent out the club’s private spaces.
“Our goal is to just make people feel comfortable here,” said Derek Gibbons, managing partner with Glu Hospitality, which owns Vesper Dayclub. “Before it was very VIP-driven and now we want to focus on [general admission] — people being able to come in here, hang at the bar, get a lounge chair and not have to pay $1,000 a day to sit in a bungalow.”
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Membership itself is free, although there is a $35 application fee that is only processed if you’re accepted. It isn’t a requirement for entry, however. It just gets you in the door for free on weekdays. Your guests will also receive a discounted cover during the week. Weekend cover for everyone (members and nonmembers) is $20.
Add to all of that a revitalized cocktail and food menu orchestrated by Glu general manager Ryan Fenton and a new public restaurant next door — Germantown Garden, an indoor/outdoor lounge with a solid cocktail and food menu.
“We want people to view Germantown Garden as a neighborhood spot in Northern Liberties,” Gibbons said. “We want people to feel at home when they’re there.”
At Germantown Garden there is no cover, instead the focus is on lounging, eating and drinking. Inside is a chic chandelier-illuminated modern restaurant, while outside there are trellis-like structures, a grill and plants all around. It’s an urban oasis, complete with a wall covered in greenery.
It’s a different vibe from Vesper and decidedly more laidback.
Both Germantown Garden and Vesper Dayclub will retain distinct and separate menus, with only the Dr. Neville champagne-based cocktail shared between them. Germantown Garden’s cocktail list is more adventurous than its cousin, with Fenton crafting his own amaro blends and drawing from historical recipes for his creations.
His favorite is the B.Q.E., named after the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and inspired by the 1920s Brooklyn cocktail. He blends Cynar, Averna, Luxardo, Madagascar Vanilla Bean and a touch of Cointreau together to craft a cherry-vanilla amaro, which he then mixes with rye whiskey. He garnishes it with a sage boat filled with cardamom sugar. It’s not meant to be mixed with the drink, instead the cardamom and sage should tickle the olfactory senses with every sip.
At Vesper, the drinks are all focused on summer and island feels. There’s a plethora of frozen cocktails, including frose, and most of the drinks tend to be on the sweeter side.
Fenton’s personal favorite is Gilligan’s Rescue.
“It’s passionfruit, coconut water, lemon and rum,” Fenton said. “It’s not too sweet. The coconut water is nice and dry and the lemon juice dies it out as well. The sweetness comes from the passionfruit and rum.”
Another notable cocktail is the Gritty Juice, named after the Philadelphia Flyers mascot who has taken Philadelphia and the world by storm. Gritty Juice is made up of Bruleed Orange Patron, cinnamon, orange juice and Aperol.
Cocktails are $12 for a regular-sized drink, $20 for a large and $35 for a mega. Beers start at $6 and wine starts at $9. There are also non-alcoholic options available, from juices to cold brew (which is kept on tap).
Food options range from grilled broccoli ($7) to buffalo chicken flatbread ($13) to the Vesper Burger ($11), which comes with applewood bacon, chipotle aioli and white cheddar cheese. There are also food platter options available, including The Royale ($95), which is made up of shrimp cocktail, jumbo lump crab, chicken tenders, fries and cheesesteak egg rolls.
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There’s more to do at Vesper than just drink and eat (although that is a large part of any visit to the dayclub). There’s also plenty of floating to be done — at only four feet deep, the heated pool isn’t designed for more than a dip to cool off.
“We want to view this whole building as a hotel without rooms,” Gibbons said. “Yeah, we will do the fun pool parties on the weekends but you can also come here and do work during the week. Bring your laptop and do work in the sun, drink some cold brew. It doesn’t have to be all based around alcohol.
“We want Philadelphians to feel that they can do whatever they want to do that day in our spaces,” he said.
So why the shift from VIPs to GA? “There’s a shelf life to the VIP mindset,” Gibbons said. “I think it’s great and it can be profitable, but to really have a longstanding run and to really make a name for yourself then you need to pull different demographics in from every angle. That’s where you can really make a big mark.”
The VIP experience still exists for those who want it. Day beds start at $200 for members and $300 for non-members and private bungalows, which are for parties of up to 40 people, start at $1,000 for members and $1,500 for non-members. Those are just the starting prices for weekdays too, the private spots are more expensive on weekends and holidays. For perspective, a bungalow starts at $3,000 for members on holidays.
Vesper Dayclub is located at 1031 Germantown Ave. in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. Learn more and apply for membership at vesperdayclub.com.
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