Dublin’s Afternoon Tea scene is thriving, but with every five star hotel worth it’s salt (or sugar, as it were) offering a high tea experience, there can be an air of sameness from each stack of scones and procession of pastry. However, leafy Ballsbridge has seen a recent addition to it’s finest address, The InterContinental, which no doubt will have diners flocking in their droves to the suburbs.
Having undergone an extensive renovation recently with 85% of the luxurious former Four Seasons redesigned, The InterContinental has also made significant inroads into the renovation of the Afternoon Tea ritual. While others before it had toyed with the concept of teapot cocktails and the like, the InterContinental team headed up by Executive Chef Alberto Rossi, have just launched a fully themed Gin Afternoon Tea.
Served in the opulent chandelier lit Reading Room, swathed in plush navy and golden hues, Gin Afternoon Tea is now on offer in alongside a stellar Classic Afternoon Tea menu. Having both the classic and the contemporary on offer is sheer genius (or gin-ius, if you will) as it allows you to sample the best of both worlds and ideally order one of each to mix and match with your lounging companion.
Both options are served on delicate William Edwards hand-painted bone fine china, dotted with bumble bees and bluebirds lounging amongst reeds, which are the very same as those used on the luxury Belmond Grand Hibernian train. As if this wasn’t enough to secure that feeling of experiencing something a little special, for the next two months the InterContinental is home to a Tanqueray Champion Shaker, one of only 22 in the world and the ideal device for shaking up Tanqueray No.Ten, the premium small batch gin of choice for the ritual.
Gin Afternoon Tea stands out as remarkable before you even take your first sip – at €30 per person including one of three gin options it is surely the best value luxury afternoon tea in Dublin. The classic option is offered for €28 per person, to which Prosecco (€8.50) or a flute of Taittinger (€17.50) can be added. But back to the good stuff, the gin, and the array of enticing incarnations in which it appears.
Guests are given the option of a china teapot of Tanqueray Infused Earl Grey Tea, served warm with hints of pimento peppercorn, lime peel and honey. Sipping from our teacups we all agreed, this was as comforting as a hot toddy with all the zingy freshness of a G&T. Cold ‘brew’ Crafted Gin Cocktails with apple juice and lime were served in stylish glass teapots, alongside petite pipettes filled with ginger, lime or cucumber syrup, allowing you to customise your cup.
Finally, you can choose a Dressed Tanqueray No.Ten and Tonic with the perfect accoutrements – pink grapefruit and thyme, orange and mint, red chilli and lime or lemon and rosemary. Tanqueray No.Ten is naturally scented with powerful citrus hues and inviting botanicals, a marvellous match for the accessories on offer and served in crystal martini glasses for the ultimate stylish sip.
But the homage to the spirit du jour doesn’t end here, the Gin Afternoon Tea menu is inspired throughout by the crisp freshness of a G&T. A unique take on your traditional chicken salad came in the form of Caeser’s Taco, a delicious parmesan and polenta crisp housing creamy caesar coated chicken, bacon and romaine. A step up from the familiar finger sandwich indeed.
Next, a Dubliner Ham and Cheese Sandwich was elevated and given the gin treatment with the addition of compressed cucumber doused in lemon to mimic the crisp zing of a G&T. This attention to acute detail, as well as tangy tomato bread, elevated the traditionally humble combo to something special. Pork Belly and Fig Marmelade on white bread, was sticky, sweet and sinfully good. The pork is slow cooked overnight, shredded and pressed making it meltingly delicious, I would happily have eaten more than one of these.
Finally, the most adventurous of treats on offer tread the line between sweet and savoury, as well as love and hate. For me, Foie Gras Lollipop was love at first bite, light and airy whipped foie encased in sweet and contrasting white chocolate was whimsical and well balanced. These lollies kept me largely distracted from the mini buttermilk and fruit scones, which were a fantastic size, satisfying but not overwhelming, and served with a golden Irish mango jam and luscious clotted cream.
Gin found itself celebrated in numerous tantalizing ways in the form of beautifully crafted desserts, starting with Ginger Cosmo Cone, a crisp charcoal cone oozing with tart rhubarb, ginger and gin compote and topped with marshmallow-like blow-torched Italian meringue. This was worth the mess I made trying to eat it.
A tall shot glass simply named The G&T revealed itself to be a wobbly pannacotta spiked with Tanqueray, topped with a dash of tonic foam and cucumber caviar. G&T lovers and loathers alike would enjoy this refreshing take on the classic thirst quencher, zesty and bursting with citrus.
The simply titled Light Eclair was exactly that, airy choux topped with strawberries mascerated in gin. If you think balsamic vinegar is a strawberry’s ideal bathing liquor, think again, I’ll be swapping it for gin in my desserts this summer. Finally, the mandatory (for me at least) Macaron was filled with salted caramel, crisp, chewy and well made.
Gin Afternoon Tea at The InterContinental is the kind of leisurely ritual you could luxuriate over all day, and I could easily see afternoon turning to late evening here. Like their neighbours next door in the RDS, the team here knows how to put on a good show. The InterContinental has gone the extra mile with this new G and Tea, and so should you – get yourselves to Ballsbridge tout suite to sip and savour a fantastically unique Afternoon Tea experience to remember.
T: +353 1 665-4000
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. With that(and greed) as the ultimate motivator, I realised that baked goods make excellent bribes and an obsession was born! I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake off, fuelling my desire to focus on food in a serious way. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.