Last Saturday was World Gin Day, but if you didn’t make the most of it, don’t worry, as Harvey Nichols Birmingham & Edinburgh Gin are keeping the celebration going until the end of July with their Edinburgh Gin Afternoon Tea.
I’ve long been a lover of Edinburgh Gin. I’ve also been a lover of cake for as long as I can remember, so this combination is right up my street. I was invited along by the team at East Village Agency to sample the afternoon tea with cocktails to let you know what I thought.
Afternoon tea is served in the Harvey Nichols restaurant, which is very stylish with lots of marble, grey and gold tones. The menu features sweet and savoury items, all inspired by or infused with Edinburgh Gin products, and the option with a cocktail is just £30.
I got to sample several drinks, starting with the Edinburgh Gin Sauvi Spritz, made with Elderflower gin liqueur, Sauvignon Blanc and soda water, with a slice of apple to garnish.
The combination of dry, crisp wine, sweet elderflower and refreshing soda made this a really enjoyable, easy drink.
After a short introduction from the Edinburgh Gin brand ambassador and Harvey Nichols chef, we got to the fun part.
The presentation of the Afternoon Tea is really beautiful. Each serving (to share between two) had three tiers of deliciousness with desserts on top and savouries on the bottom. There were also options for vegetarians and gluten free diners, but these weren’t listed on the menu.
It made sense to start with the savouries (though I’ve never been one for following the rules) so I grabbed myself a courgette and artichoke wrap and got stuck in.
I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy the wrap as I’m not a fan of artichoke, and I found the texture a little wet from the courgette.
The vegetable and goats cheese terrine was tasty, but fell apart a bit when I tried to eat it, which was a shame.
These were the only savouries which didn’t have some element of gin to them, so that may also have contributed to me not enjoying it as much as the other options.
The gin and tonic cod with rosemary straw potatoes was delicious. The batter on the fish was infused with Edinburgh Seaside Gin, which is full of coastal botanicals that gave a herbaceous flavour. The rosemary straw potatoes were tricky to eat with cutlery, so I just ate them with my fingers (not the most polite option…) but they were really tasty with plenty of salt and herbs.
My favourite of the four was the duck croquettes with Edinburgh Gin Plum & Vanilla Liqueur sauce. Call me biased, because I LOVE duck, but these were so good. The lightly spiced duck leg meat had a thin, crisp coating, and the sweet plum & vanilla liqueur sauce was reminiscent of Chinese plum sauce with a touch of creaminess from the vanilla. I liked both the flavour and the unexpected use of the sweet, dessert-like liqueur.
Before moving onto the desserts, it was time for cocktail number two: Pomegranate & Rose Gin Fizz. If you like Turkish Delight, you will love this drink. The Edinburgh Gin Pomegranate & Rose Liqueur, which is sweet & perfumed with the subtlest hint of gin bitterness, is paired with dry Prosecco and results in a cocktail I could drink far too many of.
The drink mirrored the flavours of the Panna Cotta, also made with Edinburgh Gin Pomegranate & Rose Liqueur. Together this was quite lovely, but I found the flavour very subtle in the panna cotta when eaten alone.
The strawberry and elderflower eclair, made with Edinburgh Gin Elderflower Liqueur was gorgeous, the floral and fruit flavours going together perfectly, sandwiched between light as air choux pastry.
The peach, rhubarb and ginger tart, made with Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur, was even better, topped with an artful blob of blowtorched meringue.
The most interesting of the desserts was the cucumber candyfloss. Yes, you read that right, cucumber candyfloss. Unfortunately I ate it before I photographed it. My bad. It was green, tasted remarkably like cucumber and was fun to eat.
Finally it was onto the scones. Though often the simplest part, they’re absolutely my favourite bit of any afternoon tea. In this iteration, you get two plain scones and two raspberry & white chocolate scones, inspired by Edinburgh Gin Raspberry Liqueur.
Both scones were warm, crumbly and made infinitely better by being slathered in clotted cream and jam. Call me a purist, but I actually preferred the plain scones, which weren’t as sweet as the raspberry & white chocolate ones, but I enjoyed both nonetheless. And no, I still don’t know whether it should be jam or cream first.
Having polished off my share of everything, and probably some of Emma’s (Miss Pond) too, I was pleasantly full but not sluggish or sleepy, which, I reckon, is how you want to feel following afternoon tea.
There were one or two things I wasn’t enamoured with, but compared with say the Mandarin Oriental afternoon tea in London, which had great tea and savouries but disappointing desserts, that clocks in at £56; or the Caffe Concerto afternoon tea closer to home at Grand Central which is cheap and cheerful at £17.95, but lacks that luxury feel (think Tetley tea and Hovis but lovely cakes), the Harvey Nichols Edinburgh Gin afternoon tea is very good value at £30, and accessible enough to enjoy with your mum or your mates during a shopping trip.
The gorgeous cocktails really made it for me, I enjoyed them far more than just drinking fizz, and the gin infused menu makes this a unique take on afternoon tea that you should definitely catch while you can.
Edinburgh Gin Afternoon Tea is available at Harvey Nichols Birmingham until the end of July. My afternoon tea was complimentary, thanks to the team at East Village & Harvey Nichols. As always, my opinions are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a positive review.