When an invite to the Hendrick’s High Tea hosted by Ally Martin, the Global Brand Ambassador of Hendrick’s Gin, and Zahra Bahlewa of The Lord Erroll popped up in my inbox, I was excited. I was even more thrilled when I received the fancy paper invite. So after a busy day, I found myself at The Lord Erroll with my plus one invite – Akruti of Beauty by Akruti (she’s currently not posting so go show her some love to motivate her) one lovely evening.
Hendrick’s Gin, launched in 1999, is produced by William Grant & Sons in Girvan, Scotland. The Hendricks story really begins in the sixties. A man called Charlie Garden, who was known for making whiskey, went out and bought two stills: Bennet and Carter-head stills. They did nothing but sit for 23 years. In 1989, he tasked Lesley Gracey (the master distiller of Hendricks) to create a gin using these different and ancient stills, and she came up with the Hedrick’s we know and love today. In fact, Lesley is one of the few people who know the specific recipe of the quirky Hendrick’s Gin, which includes 11 botanicals (including juniper – which is what makes it a gin), Bulgarian Roses, and Cucumber Sativas. The quintessential British gin, bottled in a dark brown apothecary-style bottle, is known for its floral qualities. And paired with tonic and cucumber slices, it is an iconic refreshing tipple, ideal for the dog days of summer.
After I got dropped off at the entrance, the welcoming staff of The Lord Erroll was ready to assist me up and down the various ramps. At the Idina West dining area, I was presented with a hand fan to keep cool in our summer heat and was led down a slightly steep ramp (maybe, they need another set of ramps here) to the garden where a gorgeous set up was laid out.
Several tables with white umbrellas overhead dotted the garden where a select discerning guest. At one end, there was a cute bar and a live band, while on the other, a lovely photo area with a Hendricks branded bathtub, a gorgeous leather sofa and a phonograph record player. Next to the sofa, was an antique cabinet filled with vintage painted tea cups. Here, a photographer would take pictures of guests and then deliver printed copies to their seats.
As the glamorously dressed hostesses would guide guests to the tables, a few entertainers professionally juggled cucumbers and in one corner, a tarot card reader read people’s fortunes. It was quite the peculiar entertainment as the theme suggested.
As guests mingled, the hosts – Ally Martin and Zahra Bahlewa went around making everyone feel welcome. I particularly admired how friendly they both were.The table décor was phenomenal with delicate green plants, complementing the brown Hendrick’s Gin bottles and the bowls of sliced cucumber and roses in the center. The cucumber and the roses all pointed to the key infusions of Hendrick’s Gin. At each seat laid a menu and a rose on top of a golden lace placemat.
As we sat, waiters would bring around trays of cocktails and there was plenty to choose from! I tried the Georgian Tea served in a teacup. Light and refreshing, this was a concoction of Hendrick’s Gin, blueberry tea, fresh lime and apple juice. I later tried the Curious Cosmo which was made with Hendrick’s Gin, orange liqueur, fresh lime and cranberry juice. Shaken and stirred with an orange peel, I could happily slip on this cosmo during happy hour with my girls. The other cocktails available, that I didn’t try included the Flora Dora made with Hendrick’s Gin, raspberry syrup, fresh lime juice, and topped with ginger ale. There was also the classic Hendrick’s G&T with three slices of cucumber.Then, to cleanse our palate, we were served a lemon sorbet scoop sitting on top of diced cucumber and a shortbread cookie. The bowl was garnished with a rose flavored sugar crisp. Light and refreshing, it was the much needed amuse bouche before starting on the sweet and savory treats to come.Next, the three-tiered afternoon tea platters were brought over.
I asked for the non-vegetarian sandwiches be kindly swapped with vegetarian options, and soon enough, I was digging in. The lower-tiered plate held finger sandwiches: Cheese and Tomato, Egg and Chives, Cucumber and Cream Cheese, Smoked Salmon, and Roast Beef and Caramelized Onion or Grilled Chicken.Our Roast Beef and Smoked Salmon sandwiches were swapped out for Avocado and Grilled Vegetable sandwiches.I thought the Avocado sandwich was a good upgrade from the Guacamole one they used to have, which I am told is now no longer on the menu. I just wished there was more pizzazz to compliment the creamy avocado. The Vegetable sandwich, however, was disappointing. Consisting of grilled eggplant and zucchini, this sandwich was underwhelming because the eggplant seemed to be undercooked and chewy, while the entire sandwich was under seasoned.
On to the next tier: the scones. There was a choice between two types – plain and raisin. These fluffy, delightful scones were served with homemade strawberry preserves and clotted cream. I was transported to heaven with this delectable selection.The top tier had an array of sweet desserts. There was a Belgian Chocolate Watcher, a Passion and Lemon Cake, a Vanilla Short Cake, Macarons and nature’s candy: Grapes. I loved the Belgian Chocolate Watcher as the texture was lovely and it wasn’t overly sweet. The Passion and Lemon Cake was luscious, however, it was too sweet. I was also not a big fan of the Vanilla Short Cake, as I thought it was a little boring and dry. Sugared up, I couldn’t bring myself to try the Macarons, but on previous visits to The Lord Erroll for afternoon tea, the Macarons were scrumptious.While we were enjoying our afternoon tea, the charming host, Ally Martin would dish out facts and little anecdotes on the origins of Hendrick’s Gin. Besides the intriguing history of the origins of this beautiful, fragrant gin, I loved how the spirit was used for medicinal purposes in the past. Also, I found it quite quaint and charming that women would classily sip gin cocktails out of teacups to avoid any unwarranted stares. Now, there is something sensational about drinking alcohol out of teacups, isn’t there?
Later, I went home stuffed and in a happy buzz after spending a delightful evening with a select few from an exclusive, discerning guestlist and having enjoyed a fancy boozy afternoon tea in the middle of a busy week!