Our appetite for afternoon tea doesn’t seem to be slacking. Richard Cree visits London’s Intercontinental for a tea with a difference
With the boom in afternoon tea showing no signs of abating, it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a new twist. Enter Martin Miller’s Martini Afternoon Tea, in association with the newly jazzed up Intercontinental London Park Lane. If the concept of starting on the martinis at tea time sounds a little much (although, let’s face it thanks to the arrival of the breakfast martini it’s been an all day drink for some time), the cocktails on offer here are quite gentle. Mixing Miller’s gin with African Soltice tea and fresh strawberries, the Afternoon Martini is like settling your tastebuds into a big, plush velvet sofa. The Miller’s Mint Martini takes the Ronseal approach and does just what you expect, mixing Miller’s with spearmint tea from Notting Hill’s Tea Palace. But easily the pick of the cocktails on offer is the Earl, which mixes the Tea Palace’s finest Earl Grey with elderflower cordial. A drop of tabasco and a garnish of fresh chillies gives this delightful combination the edge that the others lack. But this is afternoon tea, so there’s also all manner of goodies to feast on, all of them employing the botanicals used to create Martin Miller’s gin. For £30 a head this is a fun and well considered alternative to the traditional tea. The revamped Intercontinental won’t be fully open until March 2007, but this as good an excuse as any to visit in the meantime.