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!).
Posts Tagged ‘Arkansas Bed and Breakfast’
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”
November 7th, 2013 by Lisa
As the seasons are changing we at the Empress are excitedly anticipating the Holiday Season. Our Christmas decorations will go up right after Thanksgiving with decorated trees in every room and our grand rotating Victorian Tree in the parlor. Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church puts on a Christmas Tour of Homes and the Empress is honored to be included in this years itinerary. So, mark your calendars early as we look forward to see you and sharing the Spirit of Christmas!
The fun doesn’t end at Christmas, it’s never too early to make your New Years Eve Reservations. Come toast the New Year with us at our annual New Years Downton Abbey Wine, Dinner & Dance. We will have live music to dance to in the Victorian Fashion, a four-course gourmet meal with wine pairings, and a toast to aud lang syne as the clock strikes twelve. A quick stroll up the stairs as the party winds down will take you to one of our incredibility romantic suites. Seating is limited at this exclusive “Downton Abbey” style event, so make your plans early to reserve yours!.
July 10th, 2013 by Lisa
We love having friends, family, neighbors and guests to entertain, so nothing is better than having them all together! Our 4th of July celebration (which we combined with the Hornibrook Mansion’s 125th birthday celebration) was so much fun! All of our nearest and dearest gathered in our gardens to eat, drink and be merry. Friendships were renewed and new friendships made and potluck dishes were shared by all. We adore this yearly tradition and cannot wait for next year to do it again!
September 5th, 2012 by Lisa
A Gothic Queen Anne Structure with Queen Victoria presiding over the Dining Table seems about as British as they come…but The Empress has a more diverse European flair than you may at first think. Bob Blair and Sharon Welch-Blair, owners of the Empress, are currently touring France; so we thought now would be a perfect time to focus on The French Connection at The Empress of Little Rock!!!
Pictured here is our incredible eight foot, 1870’s sculpture, which came directly from a Paris street where it served Parisians water for many years. Now it servesThe Empress and our guests, not water, but with a beautiful view.
And here is our statue’s present day Parisian counterpart. Sharon snapped a picture of this beauty still in use on the streets of Paris! This one is cast iron and made in 1923. Water was pouring in a steady stream out of the top.
August 1st, 2012 by Lisa
The Empress of Little Rock is known for the friendliness and hospitality of our owners and Innkeepers, but many guests also become acquainted with our mascot, Lovie Dovie. Dovie is known for her “Southern hospitality.” She will sometimes escort guests from the guest parking lot to the back porch door, where she waits “patiently” to take them around to the front door to enter into the inn. She will then most times flop down and let them pet and love on her.
Dovie is a Tortoiseshell cat. “Torties” are named for their distinctive coloring (a combination of patches of black, brown, amber, red, cinnamon and chocolate.) An interesting fact, is that Torties are almost exclusively female. A very unique thing about Dovie – she is a polydactyl cat (“Hemingway” or “Mittens” cat.) While most cats have 18 toes (five on each front foot and four on the rear), polydacts have six or more toes on the front feet, and sometimes an extra toe on the rear. We knew Dovie was special!
She will also try to talk guests into letting her come into the inn. She will look up at them with her sweet, innocent little eyes, meow and just know that they will do what she wants. The thing is, she knows that she is not supposed to come into the inn. She is counting on the “kindness of strangers.” A typical Tortie, she is quite talker, displaying that famous “tortitude!”
We hope everyone will come visit us and Dovie at some time in the future!
May 25th, 2012 by Lisa
This Memorial Day Weekend, The Empress invites you to come to Little Rock and join us for Riverfest, Arkansas’ largest arts and music festival. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the event, Riverfest, along with Bruce Cochran and Custom Beverage, will host a wine tasting event and art auction on Thursday, May 24th in the River Market Pavilions from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Bruce Cochran has selected an outstanding array of boutique wines from over 30 wineries. The selection includes a variety of whites and reds that hail from many different wine-producing regions – from Washington State to Napa Valley to Italy to the Pacific Rim, and even a couple of home-grown Arkansas wines.
The music festival this year includes billboard acts from the past and present including Lynard Skynard, Boyz II Men, Little Big Town, Third Eye Blind, Snoop Dogg and B.o.B. Also featured are local favorites such as Brown Soul Shoes and Benjamin Del Shreve.
The Empress offers a special package to those coming to town to enjoy the music, the fun and the fireworks (the Osborne Family Fireworks are always an amazing show).
- Three nights in the room of your choice (Rates vary by room)
- Three gourmet two course breakfasts by candlelight
- Three Day Pass to Riverfest
- Registration to the Rock-N-Stroll 5K (registration required by Friday, May 27th for T Shirt)
- Fireworks and Symphony Preformance on the Grounds Sunday, May 29th
- All the rest and relaxation after the Events you need in the gardens or the porch swing at The Empress
Rates start at $197/person to $387/person based on choice of room; Tax and gratuity not included. Subject to availability
(Not responsible for cancellation of any events at Riverfest for any reason).
Call The Empress at 501-374-7966 to make your reservations today!!!
January 18th, 2012 by Lisa
This delicious dessert was served at our New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance with vanilla bean whipped cream and fresh strawberries. The chocolate glaze and beet chips make for a unique and tasty chocolate cake!
Chocolate Beet Cake
4 medium beets, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
11/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup safflower oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Garnish: Candied Beet Chips
1. Cover beets with 2 inches water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until very tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife, about 30 minutes. Drain. Puree beets in a food processor until smooth.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, sugar cocoa powder, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, water, oil, vanilla, and 1/14 cups beet puree (reserve remaining puree for another use).
3. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan (3 inches deep) with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment, and coat with spray. Pour batter into pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Turn out cake from pan, and discard parchment. Let cool completely, right side up.
4. Trim top of cake using a serrated knife to create a level surface. Transfer cake, cut side down to a serving platter. Pour chocolate glaze over top, and let set, about 30 minutes. Garnish with beet chips.
Make ahead unglazed cake can be store at room temperature (wrapped in plastic) for up to two days. Storage glazed cake can be stored at room temperature for up to one day.
Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Bring heavy cream and corn syrup to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan. Pour over chocolate in a bowl, and let stand for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is shiny and smooth. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Use immediately.
Candied Beet Chips
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Makes 1/2 cup
4 baby beets, preferably Chioggia
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Slice beets very thinly into rounds, preferably on a mandolin. Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Add beets. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly translucent, about 30 minutes.
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beets in a single layer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a nonsticking baking mat. Bake until dry and slightly firm, about 1 hour.
Storage chips can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.