Hidden behind a sleek, no-frills fašade on Milwaukee, this 2,000-square-foot lounge channels a Gothic forest feel: Metal walls adorned with white antlers and set off by flickering candlelights create an eerie glow, and tree trunks double as barstools. Not to mention the 32-foot concrete bar facing leather banquettes, where the special "gangster booth" accommodates up to 17 people (reservations are recommended).
Lounge lizards will enjoy the Empire's signature "hard Italian soda bar," which offers over 20 syrup flavors to add to vodka-based cocktails. The bar also whips up a selection of creative cocktails like the Jaded Rose (a blend of Bombay Sapphire gin, rose syrup, grenadine, tonic water and lime and garnished with a rose petal) and the Candy Apple-Rita (a mix of Sauza tequila, candied ginger and pomegranate syrups, lime and soda). Expect to spend between $8-$11 per cocktail.
Owned by Matt Eisler, Jason Zinkann, Ryan Hicks and Michael Klauer, Empire is a member of the rapidly expanding Liquors fam (its big-sister bars are Elm Street Liquors and Victory Liquors).
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg