Washburn Imports was already the type of store in which you might hear a browser, besotted at the sight of some vintage Indian cabinet, let loose an unrequited sigh: I swear, I could live here....
Rumor has it the circa-1910 building is haunted. If not, the addition of this custom bar ensures it. — Photo courtesy of The Imperial at Washburn Imports - Sanford
Well, you still can't move in, but with the addition of its beautiful, casual (and of course, brilliantly appointed) Imperial wine bar, fans of Washburns' exotic furnishings were given license to warm their insides and beer goggle their favorite items to their hearts' content. No surprises, in fact, if the merry atmosphere hasn't inspired a spike in sales.
With the Orlando location's success, comes a sister establishment: The Imperial at Washburn Imports - Sanford, this one set into the historic charm of First Street. The new location infuses a little more fire to the formula with the addition a full bar, boasting an impressive selection of whiskey and a rotating menu of classic cocktails.
Their collection of fine bourbons is ever-growing. — Photo courtesy of The Imperial at Washburn Imports - Sanford
"The classic cocktail resurgence has been happening up north for quite some time," says general manager Mike Smith, "and we figured we could be the ones to bring it to Seminole County.... Our menu is a blend of what we would like to do, mixed in with a little of what we hope we can get away with here in Sanford." Smith says he and owner John Washburn are similarly minded in the desire to get customers to step outside their adult-beverage "safe zones" to find new favorites among the selection of fine wines, craft beers and cocktails.
Try before you buy: Everything in the store's "fishbowl" seating area is for sale. — Photo courtesy of The Imperial at Washburn Imports - Sanford
The bar's nightly specials may do a good job of bringing in new patrons. Tuesday, for example, is Flight Night: try any five 6-ounce pours from their craft draft selection for $10. Interested in sampling a new bourbon? The Imperial's selection includes rare, small-batch offerings and takes $2 off all shots on Wednesday night.