Given the option I tend to opt for a cocktail over pudding after a meal. But imagine if one didn’t have to make that choice? What if cocktails and sweet treats were one and the same, combined?
When I received my invitation to taste the Cocktail & Cake Liquid Afternoon Tea menu at The Royal Horseguards Hotel, I discovered that this was possible. Hallelujah!
The sight of cocktail glasses lined up at the hotel’s Equus Bar was heavenly. This was going to be an afternoon tea designed for me, or so it felt like it.
And as much as I adore traditional tea and scones, I realised instantly that this experience was going to be somewhat different from anything I had ever tried.
The tastings started off with canapés and were followed by food demonstrations …
The ice lolly machine was very interesting – and apparently, this iced platform is also great for carpaccio!
I tried the Long Island Ice Tea jelly shots … Yum!
And one of the Strawberry Daiquiri Macaroons … Delish.
There were also cocktail making sessions. This Lord Kitchener cocktail was to die for! – if you prefer martinis to have a kick, which I do.
After the demonstrations, we were taken around the hotel to learn about its formidable history as well as discover its hidden gems.
My favourite historical nugget is knowing that what is now the hotel reception used to be a bar where Winston Churchill spent much time as a young man when he was a Liberal.
But even as a Conservative, Churchill returned to this building which was and still is in part associated with the National Liberal Club. What would he make of today’s coalition? We can only wonder.
It’s also not a surprise that cocktails on the Equus Bar menu reflect not only Churchill’s association with the building but also its other past inhabitants: George Bernard Shaw, Lord Kitchener and William Gladstone. The hotel used to also be a block of flats.
The tour of the hotel was stunning. This really is a beautiful building and it didn’t feel as if we were in Central London but rather on some country estate far far away.
As for the tastings, what can I say? Each experience was full of flavour. Each of the canapés were a delightful surprise, including this fish and chips in a teacup dish – which is essentially creamy haddock soup with a potato chip carefully laid on top. Amazing.
The cocktails were stellar. The Churchill cocktail included a combination of bourbon, homemade tobacco syrup and aromatic bitters and I can’t recommend it enough.
But if you prefer something sweeter, the Sir Mansfield-Cumming is also a good option …
It contains a mixture of Scotch, Quince Liquer, fresh lemon and Whisky barrel aged bitters – with a maraschino cherry. Admittedly, I ordered this drink because I was thinking more about James Bond. Mansfield-Cumming had set up MI6. But I did enjoy it and again I was met with surprising bursts of flavours.
This Cocktail and Liquid Afternoon Tea menu is only available for a limited time: from 5th until 14th October 2012. And to book or for more information, you can click here.
If you do make it down, have a fabulous time. I’ll definitely be heading back because I hear Adrian (the principal bartender) makes a great Manhattan and I have yet to taste one that blows me away. I cannot wait!