Intrigued by the concept which combined my love for both afternoon tea and cocktails, this time I headed towards the trendy neighbourhood of Haggerston in the East End of London to review the practical cocktail making masterclass paired with a tapas style afternoon tea at Map Maison. An understated hidden gem located down the quieter strip of Kingsland Road, known for its standout cocktail bars and eateries, the interior oozed the chic and glamourous vibes of the roaring twenties, my eyes immediately drawn towards the endless rows of Japanese whiskys and their own collection of MAP Lab premium bottles cocktails on display.
As we took our front row seats at the bar (my excitement levels heightened after months of being subjected to social distancing), our experience began with the practical cocktail masterclass where we were introduced to the bar equipment that we would require to make the cocktails. We were guided through this fun interactive session by skilled mixologist, Melissa, who effortlessly prepared for each of us our first welcome cocktail, one of their signature cocktails, the Pink Lady, made with Olmeca tequila, pink pepper sugar, topped with prosecco and garnished with a delicate trail dehydrated pepper down the side of an elegant glass flute. After a crash course on cocktail making (practically semi-pros by that point…) we each took turns behind the bar to put our bartending skills to the test, and concoct a cocktail of our choice from the menu. I’ve always been more of a cocktail drinker than a cocktail shaker, but I’m also pretty good at following instructions, and Melissa was an excellent tutor.
I decided to try my hand at making The Smoke Barrel which consisted of Buffalo Trace Bourbon infused with Heering cherry liqueur and two drops of whisky barrel bitters, stirred together in a hefty jar filled with ice before being strained into a chilled glass. No shaking was required but there was a smoking gun and wood chips involved which amps up any bartender’s game, the smoke trapped in a glass dome and left to infuse for a few seconds. It even came with some popcorn on the side which was a nice bonus treat as I was feeling slightly peckish. My cocktail buddy went for the gin-based Columbia Road, sweet and citrusy, presented in a conical glass delicately balanced on a glass bowl.
As our cocktail masterclass came to a close, we were each given a mini bottled Pink Lady to take away with us before being shown to our tables to indulge in our afternoon tea, served on a three-tiered stand. Their tapas style afternoon tea featured a modern and laid-back twist on the much-loved British tradition which certainly suited the vibe of the venue and surrounding neighbourhood.
From the savoury selection, we first tucked into the trio of open-faced toasted sourdough baguette sandwiches; Caprese (buffalo mozzarella, avocado mash, sundried tomato paste), The Spaniard (buffalo mozzarella, Iberico ham, black olive tapenade), and Maison Bruschetta (bacon & chorizo jam, cherry tomatoes, white truffle oil, diced samphire). My favourite was The Tart which was a lovely buttery miniature pastry case that contained a sumptuous filling of mixed mushrooms, marinated figs, and apricot harissa paste, topped with cream cheese. I also particularly enjoyed the mini Iberico burger, a buttery brioche bun filled with Iberico ham, fresh basil pesto, chargrilled aubergine, and chilli jelly.
The sweets included a strawberry and a lemon cheesecake, rich chocolate fudge brownies topped with chocolate mousse, dainty matcha macarons, and mini banofee pies. To accompany our afternoon tea, we were able to choose two more cocktails each and made sure not to miss out on the ‘Sunshine in a glass’, made with lemon infused Beefeater gin, grapefruit and rose cordial, lime juice, topped with jasmine and white peach soda and a final touch of ‘seasonal cloud’. To finish off, we ticked off the final two vodka-based cocktails on the menu, The Shinobi and De Lychee that we shared between us.
The practical cocktail making masterclass with tapas style afternoon tea is priced at £60 per person on weekends (£50 per person Tuesday-Friday). They also offer other afternoon tea packages, priced from £25 per person.