Brisbane’s Belle Époque

An invitation to the Emporium Hotel’s Summer Cocktail Launch on Wednesday 9 December 2015 was chance for me to experience the “beautiful life” in Brisbane.


Photo credit: Courtesy kathROSE and associates

As soon as I enter the foyer, I know it is a hotel with a difference. The zebra-patterned wing chairs make a charming first impression, but before I can take a seat, my eye is drawn to the frangipani flowers inset on the feature table in reception made from ‘burl walnut timber’. The frangipani theme is also featured on the reception walls – a bronze and gold-leaf overlay of glass, backlit with LED lights, and I’m pretty sure I could smell the delicate nuance of the floral heart and the buttery softness of frangipani petals in air.


Photo courtesy White Frangipani-1 via Photopin and Creative Commons

Within minutes of entering the opulent sanctuary of the foyer, guests were ushered to the Emporium’s Pool Deck to sample the selections on the new summer cocktail menu. And what a magical ambience it was  – the ‘golden hour’ of light that comes with the setting of the Brisbane sun, the aquamarine of the pool, the gentle breezes, summer dresses in happy shades of tangerine, fuchsia, and cobalt blue to delight the eye, and the clinking of champagne glasses!


There was almost nothing more a guest could want for – a backdrop of cool and smooth live music, interesting and genial companions, and attentive wait staff to provide drinks and o’dourves on cue. Guests even got a ‘goody bag’ to fill up with samples of elixirs, sachets, and a host of other secret ingredients, to help us recreate the magical potions, called cocktails, at home.


The Emporium Hotel has a resident Mixologist and Bar Manager, Lette Needham, who is an alchemist extraordinaire, and takes her art very seriously. Just as finest ‘noses’ can create a perfume that ranges from classic to eclectic, Lette can create a cocktail recipe to find the right libation for every taste, occasion, and season.


Red, being the Emporium Hotel’s signature colour, was celebrated in the cocktail – Strawberries & Champagne.


Strawberries & Champagne


  • 20ml house-made Strawberry Shrub
  • 2 dashes Peyshaud’s bitters
  • 80ml Mumm Champagne


  • Champagne Flute


  • Add Strawberry Shrub and Peychaud’s Bitters to Champagne Flute
  • Add 40ml Mumm Champagne and swizzle with a spoon
  • Top with 40ml Mumm Champagne


  • Rim glass with Strawberry Shrub and dip into Strawberry Sherbert.

belle_08_wpPhoto credit: Courtesy kathROSE and associates

And, you must admit, it’s pretty hard to resist a cocktail named The Bee’s Knees – especially when you learn that the honey comes from the Emporium Hotel’s very own roof-top hives.


The Bee’s Knees


  • 60ml Beefeater
  • 30ml Fresh pressed lemon juice
  • 20ml Emporium Roof-top Honey
  • 5ml Crème de Violette
  • Lavender Smoke


  • Coupe


  • Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker
  • Shake and double strain into Coupe
  • Smoke Lavender into glass


  • Lavender Sprig and Bee Pollen.

belle_06_wpPhoto credit: Courtesy kathROSE and associates

The sun might have set but the night was still young, and guests were escorted back downstairs to the Emporium Hotel’s Cocktail Bar by Marketing Manager, Lilian Hare and Food and Beverage Manager, Katrina Yorke. I have to say that, along with their impeccable customer service, the Emporium Hotel’s staff really know how to look good. These girls have impeccable taste. Lilian wore a black cotton lace outfit, which at first I thought was a dress but was actually culottes – definitely the most stylish ‘onesie’ I have ever seen. Katrina wore a fine knitted sleeveless dress with a high neck in the darkest possible shade of French navy. Both wore nude sandals with the lastest fashion block heels, and of course signature Emporium red lips.

belle_03_wpPhoto credit: Courtesy kathROSE and associates

In contrast to the light and airy Pool Deck, the Cocktail Bar imbues a sense of occasion rich with history, nostalgia, and romance. Grand passion and old-world grandeur are embedded in the onyx bar, overlit by an antique German chandelier, which was sourced from a castle in Europe, where generations of young debutantes in elegant white dresses were introduced to high society.

belle_01_wpPhoto credit: Courtesy kathROSE and associates

And true to theme, guests were offered an appropriate rich, flavoursome, and amber hued drink – the Hickory Bacon Old-Fashioned – to sup at this bar. Pork Belly o’dourves were served to complement this beverage.

belle_12_wpPhoto credit: Courtesy kathROSE and associates

Hickory Bacon Old-Fashioned


  • 60ml House-made Bacon Fat-wash Bulleit Burbon
  • 10ml maple syrup
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters


  • Old-fashioned


  • Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir over ice
  • Single strain with julep strainer over block ice and serve


  • Jerky and dehydrated orange.

There are more treasures to be found in the Cocktail Bar. Large, plush red velvet chairs (the fabric was sourced from Italy) provide comfortable seating for patrons.

If you want a private corner to tête-à-tête, the leather lounges with the magnificent backdrop of the century-old stained glass window from Paris is perfect. This window has its own story to tell (and probably a few secrets as well).

belle_25_wpPhoto credit: Courtesy kathROSE and associates

Originally the stained glass was a Parisian shop front, before being shipped to Buenos Aires where it was a window in a mansion of a French aristocrat, and finally this exquisite piece was acquired by an Australian antique dealer who sourced it for the Emporium Hotel.

belle_02_wpPhoto credit: Courtesy kathROSE and associates

The Belle Époque Patisserie is part of the Emporium Hotel so it was only fitting that guests were treated to Irish Iced Coffee, and a range of delectable desserts, including pretty coloured macaroons and coconut-covered balls (which were my favourite!)

Irish Iced Coffee


      • 60ml Jameson Irish Single Malt Whiksey
      • 20ml Muscovado
      • 2 shots Espresso
      • Bailey’s Foam


      • Catalina


      • Build ingredients in glass and stir
      • Top with Bailey’s Foam


      • Bailey’s Foam, Wafers and Maraschino Cherry.


And just as you are thinking, this is a little like a scene from Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusikan evening song for courtship intended for light entertainment on a social occasion, the musical duo sang All the cool kids (originally recorded by Echosmith).


She sees them walking in a straight line, that’s not really her style.
And they all got the same heartbeat, but hers is falling behind.
Nothing in this world could ever bring them down.
Yeah, they’re invincible, and she’s just in the background.
And she says,

“I wish that I could be like the cool kids,
‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.
I wish that I could be like the cool kids, like the cool kids.”

And that’s when I realised that now is our ‘gilded age’ – we can all choose to be the ‘cool kids’ and take the best of what life has to offer from the past and the present, and what better way to celebrate this than at The Emporium Hotel, Brisbane’s own belle époque!

And there’s more… A spirited summer awaits at Emporium Hotel Cocktail Bar!

Cool and crisp, shaken and stirred, the new summer cocktail menu stars classic cocktails reinvented and introduces some crafty new sips! Aperitif, Martini, Short, Tall, Dessert, Champagne – whatever the cocktail you are  craving this Summer, the team at the multi-award winning Emporium Hotel Cocktail Bar can create the perfect potion.

You already have the ‘heads up’ about Strawberries & Champagne, The Bee’s Knees, Hickory Bacon Old-Fashioned, and Irish Iced Tea  but there is so much more on offer  Queensland Mule, Lemon Myrtle Sgroppino, and an Englishman in New York to name but a few!

Coming soon Emporium Hotel South Bank!

In the not too distant future,  these same unrivalled standards of style and service will be available not only to guests of the new Emporium Hotel South Bank but to those who have chosen to call Southpoint home by purchasing an apartment in the complex.

2 Comments on Brisbane’s Belle Époque

  1. Maura
    December 11, 2015 at 2:58 am (2 years ago)

    Loved this looks great


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