After a five-month closure following fines related to drunkenness and drugs on the premises, Erskineville's beloved Imperial Hotel is back with new owners this week. "It's an inviting and encouraging vibe we're going for," says communications manager, Beau Kassas.
After being hit with two 72-hour closure orders in July this year by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex)-friendly venue closed its doors, leaving a hole in Erskineville's nightlife scene.
The hotel was bought in August by Scott Leach, owner of Erskineville mainstay The Rose, and Fraser Shaw, founder of Sydney Collective, which owns such properties as The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room, Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel and Daniel San in Manly.
For now the ground floor is a small bar focusing on cocktails. The Imperial's feature cocktail is the Drunk in Love, a blend of Campari, Tanqueray, lemon and watermelon served in a Collins glass. Expect classics with a twist including the Negroni Ice Tea and the Cinnamon-Spiced Old Fashioned. The bar also offers a range of beers on tap and a mix of local and international wines.
Currently the hotel serves pizza, and hopes to expand to a full kitchen in the future. "We're in discussions with a team of food trucks to see how it could work logistically for us," says Kassas.
Behind the bar on the same level is The Sweet Escape, an intimate backdoor cabaret room. It features performances from local artists and musicians. “It won’t just be a drag queen lip syncing - it’s going to be very artistic,” says Kassas.
Hotel management has been in consultation with the local and LGBTI community, to regain their trust in the venue. "We want to get it right," says Kassas. "We know we have big heels to fill."
The Imperial Hotel Erskineville
35 Erskineville Road, Erskineville
Mon to Wed 4pm–12pm
Thurs to Sat 4pm–3am