What’s better than afternoon tea? Afternoon tea with cocktails, of course.
It’s not a new concept, but one Manchester hotel is currently rising above the rest with an extra-boozy afternoon tea offering that puts the focus on sweet treats you can eat and drink.
Keen to put it to the test, we went down last week – on the hottest day of the year so far, no less – to try it out for ourselves.
Let us tell you, eating a mountain of cake is no mean feat in a heatwave. Thankfully, Malmaison’s aircon was on hand to save us from the cake sweats.
Faced with an array of dessert cocktails, cakes and scones, we got to work. And, spoiler alert, it was good.
Purists be warned, there are no crustless finger sandwiches in sight. But fear not – their absence is more than compensated for with other savoury delights, like mini-burger sliders and open-faced creations on rye.
On the sweet side are fresh and fluffy scones, which come out warm with lashings of cream and jam, plus lemon meringue cupcakes, sweet mini Battenburg cakes, and a light chocolate mousse topped with a dollop of soured cream.
But what of the cocktails?
We started with the Black Forest Martini – an intelligently-made drink that, surprisingly, looks just like the gateau that inspired it, and does a brilliant job of mimicking its flavours and textures too.
Built from a base of butterscotch schnapps, cherry heering liqueur, blackberries, raspberries and grenadine, it comes with fresh cream layered on top in the style of a floating coffee. The cream holds, too – not the easiest task to accomplish.
The garnish gives an instant hit of chocolate on the nose, followed by a rich, fruity sweetness from the base. Then the cream delivers an indulgent, silky finish. Perfection – a 10/10 from us.
Next, we tried Tea In The Rose Garden served in the most adorable little Hendricks teacup. Heavy on the gin, its deep pink tones are incredibly inviting. And, garnished with edible flowers and a fat blackberry, it’s pretty, too.
Comprised of rose liqueur, blackberry and elderflower tea, syrup, lemon juice and tonic, it is quite bitter, but in a refreshing, San Pellegrino limonata sort of way that we can definitely get on board with – particularly in a stifling heatwave.
Other options include a classic Espresso Martini – perfect for those who don’t want anything too sweet, it comes out with the most excellent crema – and the Orange Brûlée, constructed like the Black Forest Martini but with a base of Disaronno, Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Hennessy VS.
For anyone who really loves their cocktails, it’s got to be up there with some of the best boozy afternoon teas in town.
Costing just £27 per person, it’s hardly a bank-breaker either. If you love your cocktails, this one’s for you.