LM Series: A Most Unique Afternoon Tea...
This is the first installment of the LM Series, documenting the discovery of new and wonderful, world class, art and food during 'Le Méridien at Frieze' at which I was a guest in October, hosted by Le Méridien Piccadilly in London.
Imagine that instead of pouring out your tea to have with a few scones and finger sandwiches, you've got a pot of gin - infused with chilli and vanilla - and rather than adding milk, you top up with tonic. Le Méridien’s homage to two of the most recognisable English traditions, their G&T Afternoon Tea offers a contemporary makeover combining both, giving you a deliciously unique experience. I first had this special G&T in the spring when it accompanied the dessert course at their Damien Hirst-themed dinner, and I was instantly smitten by the clear glass presentation and how beautifully the two flavours and the gin complemented one another.
This time, we were treated in the afternoon - along with a selection of sandwiches and pastries - to the range of fruit and herbal infusions Le Meridien offers, each paired with the perfect gin to bring out the flavours of each ingredient, and meant to be sipped, like traditional tea:• Monkey 47 Gin infused with Lavender
• Bulldog Gin with Fresh Lychee Fruit
• Cucumber infused Hendrick's Gin
• Vanilla and Chilli infused Sloane's
• Sweet Basil infused Gin Mare stirred with Rosemary
• Japanese Green Tea infused with Beefeater 24
Although there were many tempting flavours to try, I couldn't help but go back to the vanilla and chilli because I'd enjoyed it so much the first time, and then I finished with the sweet basil which was nicely refreshing. But I noticed something interesting this time, when I added the tonic myself: add a little and you get a hit of the chilli, but add more and you don't dilute the drink but rather the tonic brings out the sweetness of the vanilla, allowing you to custom blend your G&T just the way you like it. I asked the mixologist (who was so knowledgable and passionate about his craft) about this and he explained that the tonic has been reduced to create a syrup, and you can do this for yourself at home by boiling it down on the hob to make the reduction. He also told us how to infuse gin (or whatever you'd like) very quickly - using the dishwasher! Add your ingredient(s) to the gin in an air-tight container, run it on a long cycle and let the heat and steam do the work. Just be sure the container is well sealed and do not try to get in a wash at the same time - no detergent!
The G&T Afternoon Tea (£32) is such a fantastic way to do the ritual with friends, and you won't find it anywhere else in London, it's Le Méridien's special service. And it comes with the traditional delectable: finger sandwiches of cucumber and cream cheese, honey roast ham and mustard, Scottish smoked salmon, and egg and cress; warm homemade scones with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream; and a selection of fresh pastries - ours had macarons! Just delicious and such a treat. I can't think of a better way to begin a special day such as a birthday. Or a Tuesday!
Photos © The Swelle Life