Elegant Cocktails When It’s Time for Tea But Not Teetotalling

Photo: Courtesy of The Fairmont Empress, Victoria

Try these tea-inspired recipes from Canada’s Fairmont Hotels & Resorts when you’re looking for a new twist on a classic cocktail. Plus a recipe for scones, because, well, it’s tea!

EMPRESS 1908 TEA COCKTAIL (as pictured above from The Fairmont Empress, Victoria)

1 1/2 oz Empress Tea-Infused Vodka (recipe below)
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz pasteurized egg white
Garnish: super fine sugar 1/2 rim
Lemon disk

In a pint mixing glass, measure in spirits and mixers. Cap and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass. Squeeze the lemon disk over the top of the drink and discard it.

Place drink on a B&B plate with doily. Serve with mini-scone.

Empress Tea-Infused Vodka
1 bottle (1.4 L) Finlandia vodka
4 Empress Blend Tea Bags

Set aside 1/2 cup of the vodka. Fold tea bags, being careful not to tear, and add to the bottle of vodka. Pour reserved vodka back into the bottle. Cap and shake. Let steep for 4 hours. Strain into a clear glass bottle.

AFTERNOON TEA SCONES (The Fairmont Royal York, Toronto)

A long-time favourite on the Afternoon Tea tiers at The Fairmont Empress, the recipe for the Empress Scone (served in mini form with the Empress 1908 Tea Cocktail) is a closely guarded secret developed in the hotel’s award-winning Pastry Shop. During the busy summer months more than 500 are baked each day. Try as we might, even with our utmost charming and, we thought, disarming requests we were only to get our hands on a substitute. If not its equal, no doubt it runs a very close second – very close.

680 g (3 cups) all-purpose flour
100 g (½ cup) white sugar
24 g (5 teaspoons) baking powder
4 g (½ teaspoon) salt
340 g (¾ cup) butter

1 large egg, beaten
240 ml (1 cup) whole milk
Flavourings (optional, see below)

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter. Mix together egg and milk; stir into flour mixture until moistened.Stir in flavourings, if using. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Roll dough out into a 1/2-inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges or circles and place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in 400 F (200 C) oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Honey: Add 1 ½ tbsp honey, plus pinch of cinnamon
Cheese: Add 1 cup extra sharp aged Ontario Cheddar
Cranberry: Add ½ cup sun-dried cranberries
Lemon: Add ½ cup of candied lemon zest, and juice of 1 lemon

MAUI JETSETTER (The Fairmont Vancouver Airport)

1 1/2 oz vodka infused with Kea Lani Orange and Pineapple Tea
1/2 oz Cointreau

3/4 oz lemon
1/2 oz honey syrup
1 orange slice

Combine ingredients. Shake over ice. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with orange slice.

THE BEE’S KNEES (Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver)

2 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
1 oz honey syrup

Earl Grey Tea Foam:
2 oz Cointreau
2 oz pasteurized egg whites, lightly beaten
4 oz Fairmont Earl Grey Tea, steeped to taste and chilled
4 dashes orange bitters

Combine tea foam ingredients in whipped cream canister. Double-charge with CO2. Makes approximately 6-7 servings

Shake gin, lemon juice and honey syrup over ice. Strain into martini glass. Layer tea foam on top of martini. Garnish with orange peel.

More Tea-Inspired Cocktails 


tea-cocktails-SJF_1316(Pictured left): The barman preparing the Mar-tea-nez cocktail at the Chesterfield Mayfair hotel, London, England.

Culinary trends often spill over into cocktail hour. To wit, the mixologists at the ultra-luxe five-star Red Carnation collection of hotels, which includes such standouts as South Africa’s The Twelve Apostles and Ireland’s Ashford Castle, are now serving up a bit of spirit alongside sandwiches with the crusts off.

The Chesterfield Mayfair in London, England, and The Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban, South Africa, have been kind enough to share their secret recipes. Give these recipes a try at home. Cheers! — Vivian Vassos http://www.redcarnationhotels.com

At The Chesterfield Mayfair, London


50 ml Berkeley Square gin infused with jasmine pearl tea

25 ml sweet vermouth

12.5 ml Cointreau

2 dashes  orange bitters

12.5 ml sugar syrup

Garnish orange twist

Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into martini glass.

RELATED POST: The Highs and Lows of Tea

tea-food-2-SJF_1106bAnd at The Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban, South Africa, the cocktail that they offer instead of Champagne for afternoon tea is:

London Dry Mist

Teapot with cup and saucer

Garnish: Fresh oysters with tabasco, lemon juice and black pepper.


In the teapot (serves two people)

100 ml Tanqueray No. 10 Gin

1 apple & cranberry tea bag

250ml of tonic

Method: Add the Tanqueray and tea bag to the teapot. Allow to steep for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Fill teapot with ice and tonic. Put lid on and serve accordingly. Assemble cup and saucer with a silver ice bucket on the side with tongs.


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