The Blair’s granddaughter Jena has spent the summer busily working at The Empress. She has been a huge help, doing everything from answering phones and taking reservations to cleaning rooms and checking in guests. Another great thing she brings to the table is the optimism and ingenuity of youth. A great example of this young, fun attitude is a recent birthday celebration we had for Shana, Sharon’s executive assistant. A birthday of a staff member is always celebrated with a card and a cake (or sometimes cupcakes!) and it fell on Jena to order the cake and buy the card for this particular celebration. The cake was ordered in plenty of time (and, being from Community Bakery, was absolutely DELICIOUS) but the card was forgotten until the last minute. Instead of a last minute dollar store run or a quick search for appropriate clip art, (solutions we old people would embrace) Jena wasted no time in breaking out her youthful creativity and art skills and quickly created a card using nothing but paper, pens, sharpies and a lot of imagination. Shana pronounced it the best card to ever be presented at The Empress (and the cupcake wasn’t all that bad either!).
July 26th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair
July 23rd, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair
Want to know where your bourbon comes from? How about your Gin? Just want to know how a distillery functions? Well Little Rock’s Rock Town Distillery is the place to learn all about what you pour over rocks…or do you take your shaken? Located in downtown Little Rock, this artisan craft distillery welcomes visitors to learn more about their products during a tour and taste. Enjoy the lively tour, which introduces you to the “grass to grain” approach of using local grains, and then take the opportunity to taste Rock Town’s spirits. What kind of spirits? How about Brandon’s Vodka and Gin, Young Bourbon (this one won Best American Bourbon in London’s World Whiskies awards!), Hickory Smoked Whisky, Riverboat Rum, Arkansas Lightning and Apple Pie Lightning.
After your taste and tour, get a cab (or a sober friend) to take you back to The Empress. We are sure Mr. Hornibrook (the house’s original owner, who also happened to be a successful saloon owner) would appreciate your choice of activities.
The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Forty-five minute tours are 4 p.m. during the week and 1:30 and 3 p.m. on weekends. Tours explain the process of making spirits, from selecting the grain to filling the bottles. Tastings are restricted to ages 21 plus. $7/adult. RockTownDistillery.com.
July 17th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair
Want a unique and fun-filled dining experience while staying at the Empress? How about an opportunity to explore the world, while leaving your passport at home? Forty Two, the restaurant at the Clinton Presidential Center, offers this opportunity at its Around the World dining event. Every third Thursday of the month, they invite guests to explore the sights, sounds and flavors of countries across the globe. A different country is featured every month, giving diners the chance to have their taste buds take a tour from Italy to India, without having to leave Little Rock.
A five-course tasting menu provided, with a bargain price of only $27.95, giving visitors the unique chance to sample distinctive flavors from around the world while enjoying a beautiful waterfront Arkansas setting. Enjoy the culture of Melbourne, Australia on July 17th, and then come back for Jeonju, South Korea on August 21st!
Reservations are required, as this event is extremely popular and seating is limited. See more at Forty-Two’s website. Or you can call them at 501-537-0042 to make your reservation.
July 17th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair
I’m guessing you’ve already figured out foods are going up in cost rapidly. What a challenge it has been to continue to provide a rich and varied menu that makes a meal special and stay within a budget. In the last couple of years, we’ve been looking at ways we can improve the experience while cutting the costs, from food to cleaning. With nine guest rooms, it doesn’t take long to add up. So here’s a couple of things we’ve come up with that we feel good about that might work for you also.
1-Make you own bread (bread makers make it easy and you know what’s in it) . But mixes are very expensive. We decided that making our own mixes made sense and making 10-12 at a time and putting them in zip lock bags allowed us to buy flour in bulk. We can rinse and reuse the bags, so we don’t add more plastic to the environment. It costs less than $1 a mix making that many at a time, including your time. Our guests love the smell of fresh baked bread wafting thru the house. But they really love the 1″ thick slices of decadent french toast and the cheese strata made with the heels and tops of the loaves.
2-We have our own “Victory Garden” where we raise our own herbs, squash for our golden breakfast pie, cucumbers for our tea sandwiches, figs we use as fresh fruit and we even created a new fig soup for the fall, and now we have our first crop of grapes. We’ve also added a persimmon tree, and we have blackberry canes as well.
Tune in for more “green” ideas and how our experiements have worked out. We’d also love to hear about what unusual thing you’ve done to reduce costs and be “green”
June 10th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair
June 10,2014 by Lisa
Join us for a tradition at The Empress, Brunch potluck with Mimosas on the grounds, July 4th at 9:00 a.m. Bring a breakfast dish to share and we will enjoy good times and friendly conversations. Brunch starts at 9 am. Coffee, mimosas and juice for the kids will be provided by The Empress! Orange juice for the mimosas is sponsored by the Downtown Neighborhood Association. We can’t wait to see you. Afterwards, treat yourself to a free day at the Clinton Presidential Museum and then listen to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra serenade you as fireworks explode at POPS at the River! Weekend getaway package specials are also available at 501-374-7966!
Happy Independence Day!!
May 1st, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair
Welcome to May! Especially after cold winters like the past one, we’re excited to WELCOME SPRINGTIME!! May is a month full of holidays, so The Empress staff wants wish all of you the best as you celebrate Mother’s Day, as well as Cinco de Mayo and most of all remember our nation’s service men and women on this Memorial Day.
Looking for the Best things to do with Mom on this Mother’s Day? The Empress is once again hosting Mother’s Day Grand High Tea. Step her back in time to the Victorian Era where beautiful big hats & gloves were the norm. Or book her one of our beautiful Spa Suites and let us arrange for her hour long relaxing message with Leslie.
History buffs, this one’s for you. Located in downtown Little Rock, the Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour of Homes May 10 & 11th, The tour contains Little Rock’s most historic homes and mansions, some predating the Civil War and many on the National Register of Historic Places.
Wanting to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Visit South Main Street restaurants for your Cinco de Mayo celebration.
Travel Rally Day! Tuesday, May 6th from 2:00-2:30 The Bernice Garden, South Main District (SoMa) 1401 S. Main St. National Travel & Tourism Week (May 3-11)
Riverfest Weekend in the Rock! Music lineup includes: Chicago, Cello Green, Hank Williams Jr, The Fray, Three Days Grace, Lee Brice, Buckcherry, Easton Corbin, Robert Randolph, Jamey Johnson & The Wallflowers. The Family Zone will offer free entertainment for families! In the Family Zone, you will find tons of activities and entertainment including the Family Stage, the Super Retriever Crown Championship Series, the Weenie Dog Derby, the K-9 Friz-B-Crew, Ruff on the River Pooch Parade, the Rock ‘N Ride Poker Run, the Rock ‘N Stroll Fun Run 5K, Arkansas Renewable Energy, International Village activities, a Baggo Tournament and much more. Or you may choose to visit part of history at The Clinton Center while at Riverfest! End your weekend with the Fireworks Show on Sunday, May 25 at 9:00 p.m. Music will be simulcast throughout Riverfront Park and broadcast on The Point 94.1. You don’t want to miss Arkansas’ most spectacular show!
Mark your calendars now to enjoy Springtime in May with us at The Empress, call Lisa and book your reservation now.
March 11th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair
Just a few short blocks from The Empress is South Main and we’re excited
about welcoming Sweet Home furnishings, great new antique architectural pieces or
shabby chic, now located at 1324 South Main Street, and Moxy
Modern Mercantile – Vintage Store, home to 500 modern
shabby chic & great new items. These add to the Green Corner Store which
has many unique gift items & great
home style ice cream, YUM! Both new business now OPEN!!
Speaking of South Main, has anyone tried the new bike lanes out yet? Now that the weather is warning up the cabin fever can come to an end, we’re ready to burn off some of those winter pounds so put on your helmets and roll the spokes! If biking isn’t your thing then you may want to stretch your legs in the Downtown Dash 10k/5K Run on March 15th 8:00 AM, presented by the Junior League of Little Rock.
Little Green in your blood? Ok, Ye Lucky Irish Lades there’s plenty for you too. Starting out on March 15th with the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. The Parade Route begins at Fourth & Rock in downtown Little Rock, passing Dugan’s Irish Pub at Third & Rock, travels east on Third, turning north on Sherman, then west on President Clinton Blvd through River Market .
February 12th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair
Make this EASY Red Velvet Soufflé for your special sweetheart this Valetines! It’s quick, easy, and can even be made with a sugar substitute. Bon Appetit’!
Red Velvet Soufflés With Whipped Sour Cream
1 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 (4-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. red liquid food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 6 (8-oz.) ramekins with butter. Lightly coat with 3 Tbsp. sugar, shaking out excess. Place on a baking sheet. Microwave chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 minute to 1 minute and 15 seconds or until melted, stirring at 30-second intervals. Stir in 4 eggs yolks, ¼ cup sugar, and next 3 ingredients. (Discard remaining egg yolk.)
Beat 5 egg whites and salt at high speed with a heavy-duty electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add 2 Tbsp. sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture, one-third at a time. Spoon into prepared ramekins. Run tip of thumb around edges of ramekins, wiping clean and creating a shallow indention around edges of mixture. (This will help the soufflés rise.)
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 24 minutes or until soufflés rise and are set. (A long wooden pick inserted in centers will have a few moist crumbs.) Dust with powdered sugar; serve immediately with whipped sour cream.
Whipped Sour Cream Makes about 2 cups
¼ cup whipping cream, ½ cup sour cream, 2 Tbsp. sugar
Beat together all ingredients at medium to high speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer 45 seconds or just until lightly whipped and pourable. Serve whipped sour cream immediately.
January 28th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair
January 23rd, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair
Valentines Day is on Friday this year, Monday is Presidents Day, so most of us actually have a three day weekend to really enjoy a getaway for Valentines. What a great time to do something really special with your Sweetheart and Little Rock is just the place to come! Many of the Great restaurants in town will be offering special menus and dinners just to make you look like a hero Or heroine. (Gals can do this also, Guys!). The Empress of Little Rock even has a gourmet romantic wine dinner for guests that evening! Don’t forget to make reservations early because EVERYTHING will be booked early.
There will be some fun things going on in the area also: Wildwood Park for the Preforming Arts offers the “Lantern Festival”, a uniquely magical evening designed to delight all. “Lanterns” celebrates the first full moon of the lunar year with a profusion of lantern light, gourmet treats, entertainment and warm beverages. Lighted walking paths and fire pits along the lake lead visitors into magical woodland vistas from different eras, cultures, and geographical locations from Venice to Germany to the Caribbean! Fabulous!!
Murray’s Dinner Theatre also has a great new presentation,”Weekend Comedy”, a fun romp for two couples who accidentally overbook the same cabin in the woods. The fun begins when two very different generations try to make the details work and “meet” in the middle! A great dinner goes with the fun, live, on stage performance.
How about a romantic the carriage ride in that full moonlight. Can’t get much more romantic than that! Book right thru the Empress and as a guest, they’ll pick you up right at the front door and provide a one hour tour in the moonlight. Snuggle up under our great fur throw and have some of our Brandied hot Cocoa! These are just some of the “romantic” things going in Little Rock. Enjoy your respite!!