It’s 11am on a sunny spring morning, but it’s never too early for Mimosas in the Smyth household. Jake has created a new pink fizz, The Blind Unicorn, for his venues The Unicorn in Paddington and Mary’s in Newtown, and he’s keen to show it off at the kitchen table surrounded by the couple’s two dogs, rabbit, cat and turtle in a tank by the adjacent sunny terrarium. The cork pops and the bubbles and the conversation flow as the unfiltered and uplifting couple talk sex, booze and dreaming big.
“The Blind Unicorn is from West Australia, made by a wine maker there called Ben Gould,” says Jake. “It’s a chenin blanc unfiltered sparkling wine with no preservatives, so it’s better for you; you don’t have a hangover because there’s no shit in it.”
The logo on the bottle was created by Lauren Winzer, a tattoo-artist friend who has inked Miley Cyrus and is a regular at Mary’s and The Unicorn. Jake is covered in tattoos. Ali is wearing yoga pants and a T-shirt after dropping Luna Wolf off to her nanny before starting her working day as founder of the Electric Collective, a PR agency representing clients such as fashion designer Alice McCall; jewellery designer Melissa Harris; and Mary’s and The Unicorn.
“Mary’s was obviously a big part of my life and I wanted to have more of a part in it rather than just drinking there,” says Ali. “But I didn’t get the business just because I was Jake’s wife. I put together a full-on pitch document and had it bound and printed and presented it to all the business owners. I was more scared than I’d ever been.”
Says Jake: “They would have judged you so much harder because they knew that you are my wife and I would not let you get that job unless you deserved it. We’ve got no time for nepotism in our businesses.”
What Jake and Ali do have time for is living life to the fullest. They welcomed Luna Wolf into the world on April 6, 2013, the same day Jake opened Mary’s.
“Well that was a shit fight,” Jake says, laughing. “Everyone was joking, ‘The baby’s going to come on the day you open’ but then she actually did.”
“Not that I was there [at the opening], obviously,” says Ali “but it was actually really cool because we were doing a soft opening with all our family and friends, so suddenly they were all willing us on and there were shots behind the bar and a whole lot of celebrating. It was a beautiful moment in time.”
Although they both juggle demanding jobs with raising Luna Wolf, a scroll through Ali’s Instagram feed reveals trips to San Sebastian and Paris, partying at music festivals, dining at Sydney’s top restaurants and bars and magical twilight shots of the trio at Uluru.
The moment when Ali and Jake first met was almost over before it started; Jake gave her the eye on the tube in London, and Ali replied by turning her back to him. “He was so not what my style was back then: he was wearing a rabbit-fur jacket held together by safety pins and he had so many earrings and two cigarettes behind both ears,” she says. “He gave me his number so I sent him a text message saying, ‘Stop stalking me you freak’ but I thought he was kind of cute.”
The pair went on their first date a week later in London, then became engaged just two months after that. “We fell in love so deeply and so quickly,” says Ali. “We got infinity tattoos instead of engagement rings because that’s all we could afford.”
They returned to Australia in 2007, then married the following year with a big, boozy bash for 100 friends at Jake’s parents’ house at Huskisson, Jervis Bay. “We got too pissed to have sex but everybody else did it for us,” says Jake. “There were eight couples who hooked up on the night. It was a total love in.”
When Luna Wolf came along three years later, Ali’s work took a back seat as she juggled motherhood with supporting Jake’s endeavours to establish Mary’s as the go-to for burgers, beer and bourbon. “Ali is the one who held it all together for the family,” says Jake. “I would come home physically shattered after working seven nights a week and in the beginning we had no money and the stress levels were out of control: my brother had to pay for the parking to get us out of the hospital because we were broke. People ask me why Mary’s is a success and I say it’s because there was no other option.”
These days it’s Jake’s turn to support Ali as she works to build her business. “I’m now trying to juggle my professional life to repay the sacrifice that Ali made for me,” says Jake. “Ali allowed me to follow my dreams without any rules, she just blindly said ‘yes’ to whatever I needed.”
Despite their considerable respective career successes, the achievement the couple is proudest of is Luna Wolf. “She is such a legend,” says Ali. “She lives freely, she laughs openly and she loves animals.”