With the recent gin revival, it isnâ€™t all that surprising that the new darling of the spirit world (move over vodka) has entered the afternoon tea circuit.Â What is surprising, is that on a glorious late summer afternoon, the sumptuous surroundings of the Dalmahoy Marriott Hotel & Country Club isnâ€™t heaving with Edinburghâ€™s afternoon tea crowd.
The clever people behind the food and beverage offering at this Baronial hotel, 20 minutesâ€™ drive from West Edinburgh, have come up with a G and Tea. Expecting the usual fare with a G&T thrown in for good measure, there were yet more surprises in store â€“ the gin is in the afternoon tea, not just served alongside it.
The choice of tea, all by Simpsons Tea, is a real selling point â€“ there is even a lemon and lime G&Tea â€“ a non-alcoholic infusion of botanicals which made for a refreshingly different taste.Â Other teas were less easy to identify, with creative names such as Hitchcock Blonde and Red Velvet Cake Pops, however the staff were happy to explain the ingredients and enthuse about the flavours.
For non-drivers, a gin cocktail or gin and tonic is included as part of the afternoon tea.
As an ATA (Afternoon Tea Aficionado) I am always excited to report on a new quality, luxury afternoon tea find, one that shrills â€œwarm sconesâ€ and â€œsoft finger sandwichesâ€ (crusts off, of course).
In fact, the plentiful pastries were each a work of art, with strawberries cut into roses, Turkish Delight with scalloped hems and multi-coloured drops of coulis for decoration.
The Dalmahoyâ€™s G and Tea is up there with The Balmoralâ€™s and Waldorf Astoriaâ€™s afternoon tea in terms of quality, quantity and having a setting worth dressing up for. At the Dalmahoy, you can choose to sit outdoors on the terrace overlooking the golf course, as we did, or indoors in the kind of opulence reserved for long, languid Sunday afternoons. Â I can recommend the terrace which is so peaceful you can almost hear the ice melt in your G&T (of the alcoholic variety!) as it shifts among the cucumber slices.
Afterwards, if you feel the need to work off some of those calories consumed, you can stroll around the 1,000-acre estate, complete with lake, tennis courts and church, and pretend wistfully that you are in Brideshead Revisited…
And donâ€™t worry if you canâ€™t finish the afternoon tea â€“ the staff are delighted to supply brown paper â€œdoggie bagsâ€ for anything you canâ€™t manage â€“ in our case scones and banana bread.
One last surprise â€“ theÂ G & Tea is just Â£19.95 per person. You would be hard-pressed to find better value for money in the Edinburgh postcode area.
The Dalmahoy Marriot Hotel & Country Club, Kirknewton, Edinburgh, EH27 8EB.
Tel. 0131 333 1845