I have made it no secret how much I love the rituals involved with afternoon tea. As soon as I found out that Virgin Hotels would be joining the ranks of the finest tea establishments in Chicago, I just knew I had to check it out for myself.
While nothing is ordinary at Virgin Hotels, I already knew that my tea service would have a little pizzazz. Aside from the decadent finger sandwiches and tasty scones, this tea service was going to have a little something different on the menu. This afternoon inside the Commons Club was not going to be like any other tea party. Instead, patrons would embark on a journey of the Upside Down Tea Party.
In order to add a little spice to one’s afternoon, your tea will certainly take you upside down as it is booze infused. That’s right, this isn’t the type of tea where you should be finishing the entire teapot. Gin, Vodka, and Rum concoctions with teas provided by Rare Tea Cellar are cleverly infused making for quite a delicious beverage.
My cup of tea for the afternoon was the colorful and vibrant the Pomp and Circumstance. This beverage comprised of Hendrick’s gin, Chareau Aloe liqueur, butterfly pea tea, passion fruit and it was garnished with a lovely blue cornflower petal. While the beverage was absolutely a delight to look at, it was incredibly delicious. I had to remind myself that alcohol was present because I was tempted to take large gulps of the drink. For anyone that isn’t particularly fond of a strong alcohol presence, I recommend this beverage. It is very easy to finish the entire glass.
My friend Jillian who accompanied me ordered the Fields of France which comprised of Reyka vodka, herbsaint, creme yvette, raspberry syrup, and lavender rose tea. This had a nice floral essence and this drink would be my second choice of beverage.
The tiered stand featured the traditional offerings such as the mini sandwiches and various desserts. My favorite part of the service were the mini sandwiches. Of the 3, I found the smoked salmon to be my favorite of the sandwiches. For the dessert, a plethora of small bites accompanied by a berry preserve were served. For the preserve, guests have been known to delight in this treat by the spoonful; however, I would recommend ordering an English muffin to best accompany it. It is absolutely delicious with the English muffin and it also suits the scones. The remaining desserts were financiers, scones, chocolate tart, and the chocolate dipped shortbread cookie; I found the shortbread cookie to be most delicious of the options.
If you are still finding yourself a tad hungry after your service, order the eclairs which are complete with assorted sauces. They were simply divine and I wish I had more room in my stomach for them. The ones I selected were bourbon infused, so we continued the theme of Upside Down. It was a great way to conclude my afternoon tea service.
If I want to add a little spice to my afternoon, I would certainly go back to the Commons Club for the Upside Down Tea Party. While one has plenty of options for tea in the city, none of them serves booze infused tea. Well, unless you decide to bring your own flask that’s a whole different story. And as a bonus the tea service is only $22! If you decide to not get it booze infused it cost about $17. Afternoon tea is quite an expensive practice so I highly recommend this service for those that want the experience of afternoon tea without breaking the bank. Plus, I would recommend this service for children (minus the alcohol) due to affordability and the simplicity of the offerings. Cookies and sandwiches are offerings that anyone with the pickiest of palates will be able to enjoy.
The Upside Down Tea Party is Saturday-Sunday from 3-5pm at Virgin Hotels Commons Club.