Afternoon Tea: Gin-inspired at Hotel du Vin review

Try an afternoon tea with a modern twist and hint of gin

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Indy Lifestyle Online

While Afternoon Tea was traditionally only enjoyed by the aristocracy and upper classes, it has found a new popularity among tourists, young people and anyone looking for an excuse to treat themselves.

Similarly, gin – once unfairly associated with ‘spinsters’ and looked at as vodka’s less desirable sibling – has enjoyed a resurgence over the last few years, becoming a firm favourite amongst millennials looking for a calorie-light spirit. 

So, it was only a matter of time before the two British classics were merged together which is exactly what the Hotel du Vin group has done with their new afternoon tea menu which launched last month. 

In partnership with Fever Tree tonics, the group has devised a menu bringing the best of both worlds together. As well as swapping champagne for gin, the food also deviates from tradition replacing finger sandwiches with tartlets and Victoria Sponge with Candy Floss.

As a lover or both afternoon tea and gin, in equal measures, I headed down to the quintessentially British setting of Wimbledon Village to sample the fusion myself. 

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The lemon meringue pies and raspberry and dark chocolate teacakes (Hotel Du Vin)

The food

As is tradition, sweet follows savoury on this menu, however, that is about the only aspect that is traditional.

Rather than the standard finger sandwiches, there is a salmon and cream cheese bagel, an egg and mayo soft brioche bun, a crumbly ham a Gruyere cheese croissant, a fresh tomato and tapenade galette and a warm and rich goat’s cheese and spinach quiche. A mix of strong and powerful flavours, each serving is rich yet does not overpower the other.

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The assortment of savoury bites (Hotel du Vin)

For the sweet course, the classic fruit scones are there (although I would have preferred them warm!) along with a sweet and tart lemon meringue pie, fulfilling raspberry and dark chocolate teacake and a fun rhubarb and custard doughnut.

In keeping with the theme, the pudding also includes a refreshing gin and tonic flavour knickerbocker glory-style dessert which is best saved until last to wash everything down.

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The gin mixers and gin & tonic knickerbocker glory (Hotel du Vin)

Another variant away from the traditional afternoon tea was the inclusion of candy floss, which I advise eating first before they deflate like mine did. Speaking to the chef afterwards, it was clear he was enjoying working out the best way to perfect a product slightly out of his comfort zone.

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(Hotel du Vin)

All the servings were fresh, cooked on site, and complimented each other wonderfully.

The drink

The standard mixture of tea choices are available including Earl Grey, camomiles and a selection of fruit and herbal teas such as passion fruit Ceylon and elderflower and blossom Darjeeling. I would recommend the Moroccan mint with rose tea for a sweet-ish hot drink accompaniment that isn’t too heavy or filling.

Rather than the standard Prosecco or champagne, this menu offers five gin recommendations along with a variety of fever tree tonics from lemon to elderflower and garnishes (many of which are grown in the hotel’s garden).

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A selection of gin mixers and the gin & tonic knickerbocker glorys (Hotel du Vin)

My favourite was the Sipsmith sloe and lemon tonic – a bitter yet sweet drink to compliment the desserts – while the Carounn red apple gin with Indian tonic garnished with red apple slices (all the garnishes are selected by the hotel) would be better suited for a starter or  main.

For something a little different try the Gin Mare, a savoury gin which is an olive and basil based tipple, paired with a Mediterranean tonic and garnished with rosemary.

The location

Set in the serene Hotel du Vin by Wimbledon Common, it is a city escape surrounded by greenery making it the perfect venue if you want an afternoon escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.  I felt like I had left London and arrived at a country retreat when, in actual fact, I had just travelled to the southern tip of the Northern Line.

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Hotel du Vin Wimbledon (Hotel du Vin/Flickr)

A downside is you are seated along with the other diners and, as I visited on a Sunday, there is something peculiar about eating scones when the next table is tucking into a roast beef.

The afternoon tea is served at other Hotel du Vin’s across the country including Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Brighton, Newcastle and Harrogate to name a few.

The price

The menu, without gin, is £25 (£20 at other Hotel du Vins) which given the quality of food, service and picturesque location is exceptionally good value. The gins are not included in the price but are around £8 each. To get the full experience, I would recommend buying one.

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Afternoon Tea at the Hotel du Vin (Hotel du Vin)

Verdict

If traditional afternoon tea is what you are after then this option may not be the one for you. However, for lovers of gin and those simply wanting to try something different, this afternoon tea puts a fun twist on a traditional experience at a very good value set in a lovely venue.

Afternoon Tea is available 12-6pm at Hotel du Vin hotels across the country. Prices start from £20.

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