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Three afternoon teas where the booze comes first

Ashleigh Arnott

Just when you thought that working your way through a tower of miniature sarnies and sweet treats was the ultimate extravagance, along comes the chance to upgrade your Earl Grey for fizz. But champagne isn't always the best accompaniment to cake. Whet (and wet) your appetite for afternoon tea with one of these menus instead, all of which offer a more interesting alcoholic option. 

The Modern Pantry's Beer Pairing Afternoon Tea

Anna Hansen is the queen of taking the traditional and twisting in unusual ingredients until it's both more delicious and utterly unique. The Modern Pantry's afternoon tea is the perfect example of her skill – where else would your scone involve gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes), or your millionaire's shortbread contain miso caramel? And all those interesting flavours are just begging to be served with beer. The five that come with these winning mini-plates are beautifully paired; a Partizan Lemongrass Saison to wash down the lemon and ajowan scone, a honey ale to sweeten the pink peppercorn financier with rhubarb. If your palate is longing for more than cucumber sandwiches and English Breakfast, look no further.

Available in The Modern Pantry Finsbury Square Mon-Sat 3pm-5pm by reservation. £35 per person including beer pairings.

Sketch Rich Tea champagne afternoon tea


Sketch R Tea

The powder pink, Shrigley-decorated gallery at Sketch is already the stuff of afternoon tea legend, and their pristine towers of treats are nearly as fancy as the fittings. In May they launched a new take on it, the R Tea, which thankfully has nothing to do with Rich Tea biscuits and everything to do with a champagne and tea blend that tastes like a floral and luxurious spritz. The balloon glass of chilled, gently fizzy booze is a refreshing accompaniment to the pretty traditional snacks. They'll let you order more of your favourites so make sure to arrive with an empty belly. The coronation chicken sandwiches and malabar marshmallows are especially great.

Available at Sketch daily from 12.30pm-4.30pm. £62 per person.

 Gin and tonics at The Den, St Martin's Lane

Afternoon Tea at The Den

Hidden away on the ground floor of the St Martin's Lane Hotel is a wood-panelled reception room featuring leather sofas, backgammon boards, low lighting and some intriguing artwork. It's not your usual afternoon tea surrounds, which makes it all the more appealing – who needs pastel and chintz when you're already eating mini cakes? The booze is accordingly classy; you choose from a selection of classic and fruit-laced gin and tonics, each of which has a fun name that corresponds to one of the aforementioned paintings. A wonderfully refreshing way to wash down the freshly baked scones, honey roast ham and cheddar baked brioche, coconut macaroons and other treats.

Available daily at The Den from 10am-11pm (10.30pm Sundays). £35 per person.

Looking for more? Visit our guide to afternoon tea in London.

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