Review: Tipsy Tea, Mr Fogg’s Tavern

It’s about time the afternoon tea got kicked into the twenty-first century, and while there’s always a place for loose leaf, speciality teas, there’s also a place for one that’s alcohol-fuelled too. There are a few places around the UK, and a handful in London who are offering fizz and gin but some do it better than others.

Take Mr Fogg’s Tavern in Covent Garden. Their afternoon tea experience is one of immersion into the fantasy world of Phileas Fogg, the traveller and explorer. The site that straddles New Row and St Martin’s Lane was once the home of Gertrude Fogg.

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When she died, she bequeathed her home to Phileas. Her Will stipulated that her life-long housekeeper, Fanny McGee could set up a tavern for her friends and professional acquaintances downstairs while Mr Fogg made upstairs his very own Gin Parlour, and it’s here his collection of more than 300 bottles are.

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Each Saturday he throws open his doors to lovers of gin and afternoon tea for the Tipsy Tea.  It’s also here in the Parlour he offers a Gin Safari for groups of six or more.

The experience, and it is an experience, begins when you arrive.  An invitation to attend the upstairs parlour is given, and a bell sounded.

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As you make your way to the top of a narrow corridor, you’re greeted with a, Tanqueray Gin and Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic, and told a little about the ‘history’ of the site.

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Next, you’re taken through to the Parlour where you take your seats, we had a chaise longue each, and learned about two different types of gin. The first was an Old Tom style gin, Jensen’s and the other New World and Martin Miller’s.

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The afternoon tea menu is compiled by ‘Passepartout’, Phileas’ French Valet, and the household staff. If you’re feeling brave, you can order the bottomless teapot of gin or champagne. We weren’t and after our welcome gin, we were ready for some food. We chose Mr Fogg’s Afternoon Par-Tea-Pot made with Jasmine Green Tea, Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Pineapple Syrup and Lemon & Orange Bitters.

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Then the afternoon tea arrived.

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A selection of finger sandwiches and a couple of pastry-less quiches, two scones, one fruit and one plain, with strawberry jam and cream, two lemon posset and shortbread, along with chocolate and raspberry sponge cakes.

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A couple of fruit meringues and banoffee tarts topped the final tier.

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Bite-sized champagne jellies helped to cleanse the palate between courses.

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Each tea lasts for two hours, and we finished ours at 4pm.

Be sure to pace yourself, those stairs seem deeper and narrower on the way down!

Make a reservation for the Tipsy Tea here.

Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour is at 1 New Row, London, WC2N 4EA

What’s the best afternoon tea you’ve experienced?