Afternoon tea with a view of the Houses of Parliament or the London Eye; does it get any more quintessentially British? I was thrilled when I discovered that Gillray’s Steakhouse on London’s Southbank have a new spin on the English classic by offering an unlimited Gin & Tonic boozy afternoon tea! This sounded like the perfect way to spend an afternoon with my oldest best friend & fellow gin-lover, Claire from The Curious Explorers.
Gillray’s is situated inside the impressive former County Hall and the afternoon tea is served in the Gin Bar of the restaurant where they have over 100 different gins to sample! A definite reason to return to the venue, especially as the bar team have created a bespoke list of classic and more modern cocktails to try, alongside a great selection of wines, beers and other spirits.
Although this was a free-flowing gin Afternoon Tea, you are also offered a selection of teas to accompany your food. Feeling slightly under the weather the lovely waiter offered to make me a fresh lemon, ginger & Tiptree honey tea. A lovely touch of good service that set me up to enjoy the fantastic afternoon tea spread we had to come.
The free-flowing gin works the same way as many bottomless brunches. There is a one and a half hour timer set, during which you will receive continued new G&T’s delivered to your table. We did find we had to signal the waiter when we were ready for our next drink, so remember to do this if you want to enjoy maximum G&T’s!
The gin used was Larios Gin, a popular Spainish gin distilled in Malaga (37.5% abv), which I had not heard of prior to the afternoon tea. It is made to the London dry gin recipe with a strong juniper note, but it is dryer than the traditional versions and characterised by the delicate citrus flavours that cleanse the palate well. This was paired with premium Franklin & Sons tonic and garnished with citrus wheels.
Once our drinks arrived we were presented with the stunning display stand with our amazing food!
The savoury selection features no traditional finger sandwiches, but a delicious array of small savoury treats. These include a vegetable quiche tart, a pork sausage roll slice, a broccoli & blue cheese muffin, a coronation chicken roll and a classic hot smoked salmon vol-au-vent (which was my favourite!)
Another twist was presented with the scones as every guest receives not only a sweet scone but a savoury scone as well. The savoury scone was made with cheese and basil, combined with a basil & sundried tomato crème fraiche. It also has rock salt on the top, so make sure you eat the two halves together or it is very salty! The sweet apricot scones are paired with clotted cream and delicious (& aptly named!) Tiptree County Hall Strawberry Jam.
The final delight was the beautifully dainty sweet treats. I started with the very berry Pimm’s panna cotta shot, which was a great segway from scones to sweets. The white chocolate & strawberry tart was extremely sweet, but the rest of the selection were a great level of muted sweetness that you didn’t come away with a huge sugar hit! There was a classic lemon meringue financier, a dulce & hazlenut slice and my favourite was the lime and avocado macaron. Yes the avocado trend has now spread to macarons, but it was utterly delicious!
Cost: £39 per person (Mon-Fri) for free-flowing Gin & Tonic afternoon tea. (£41 Sat-Sun).
Time: approximately 2 hours.
Nearest Train Station: Waterloo or Embankment