Despite my fear of heights, I’ve always been a fan of sky-high dining experiences, which London certainly has plenty to offer. One of my favourite venues is undoubtedly The Shard which was the first skyscraper that I frequented in my early days in London when I finally made the move down from ‘The North’. As much as I enjoy the classic British afternoon tea experience, I’m always open to moderns takes on one of my favourite weekend pastimes – particularly when cocktail pairings are involved.
Located on the 52nd floor of Shangri-la at The Shard, is GŎNG, the highest hotel bar in Europe, its name derived from “dougong” – a unique structural element of interlocking wooden brackets, used in traditional Chinese architecture and which is also featured in the bar. Adding on to its appeal as a destination bar with unparalleled views of London, GŎNG has recently launched an exciting new afternoon tea concept where guests can indulge in tea-inspired tipples accompanied by a selection of sweet and savoury delights.
To begin with, we were served some mixed nuts and corn nibbles whilst we perused the menu – for our welcome drink choices, we both went for the alcoholic options (of course) which was the sweet Shangri-la Welcome cocktail containing Baiju, the traditional Chinese spirit, and the Chamomile, which was smooth and creamy with a floral twist.
Next up were two miniature cocktails, the first, Sage & Tomato which contained Vermouth and Lagavulin 16 year old whisky which gave it an elegant smokiness, all mixed in a tomato juice – kind of like a less intense version of a Bloody Mary. The second was another refreshing gin-based cucumber and avocado concoction.
Paired with these was the savoury course, which consisted of a trio of mouth-watering sushi – a cucumber with cream cheese & Szechuan pepper nigiri, a beef tataki with sour cream and horseradish nigiri, and a salmon roll topped with seared salmon which was my favourite of them all.
My eyes beamed with delight when the sweet tray arrived, on which were laid golden plain and raisin scones accompanied by clotted cream and lemon curd, and the prettiest (and equally scrumptious) chocolate and hazelnut éclair that made me grin from ear-to-ear.
With these we enjoyed another two delicious cocktails, the sweet and aromatic Amaretto & Pisco, made with rose-infused Pisco, yoghurt, Amaretto, hazelnut, and a dash of Champagne, followed by the Artichoke & Barolo, based on Cynar, an Italian bitter apéritif made from herbs and plants, predominantly artichoke, fortified wine Cocchi Barolo Chinato, and lemon juice.
Initially I thought that I would still be hungry by the end of it (I have a bigger appetite than most people presume), but surprisingly the food and drink servings were well-balanced enough to keep our appetites at bay on that fine Sunday afternoon. And set against such dramatic views in the heart of the city, what’s not to like?
The Liquid Afternoon Tea is available between 12:00pm – 4:00pm from Thursday to Sunday – hot drinks are not included in the experience and bookings must be made at least 48 hours in advance.