Ritual is one of life’s pleasures. Whether it’s the morning coffee or the whisky before bed, familiarity breeds contentedness.
The best thing about rituals is that they’re easily appropriated. Even if you’ve never celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas or Holi, there’s nothing to stop you giving thanks or presents.
Of course, some rituals are better than others. So rather than unscrew yet another bottle of Chilean Pinot Noir or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, learn to mix cocktails instead. The stirring, shaking and straining makes the pleasure all the more intense.
I may be preaching to the converted, though. Apparently we’re all starting to take our rituals more seriously – whether it's mixing cocktails, Sunday brunch or afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea is like crack for the aspiring classes – a snowball high of caffeine and sugar. In fact, afternoon tea was invented as an antidepressant. In the nineteenth century, when two meals a day were standard, the 7th Duchess of Bedford began the ritual as a pick-me-up to ward off her afternoon lull.
If you’ve never been for afternoon tea: be warned. It involves the consumption of quantities of scones, cakes and tea that would be inhuman in any other circumstance. After a heavy tea session you’ll be more wired than the International Space Station.
Rituals also evolve. It’s now common to include champagne in an afternoon tea, but Mayfair’s Mr Fogg’s has taken it to another level with the addition of other alcoholic tipples (mostly gin).
Tipsy Tea at Mr Fogg’s is a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Normally I baulk at the thought of drinking cocktails out of teacups but for afternoon tea it’s forgiveable. If you prefer you drinks on the stronger side I would suggest going for the Hennessy based 5th Duke of Rutland; otherwise, the 1840 cocktail, which is made with earl grey tea infused Tanqueray 10 is worth a try.
Phileas Fogg may have said “crisis or no, nothing should interfere with tea.” But even he would admit that a cocktail at teatime is an indulgent treat all of us are entitled to once in a while.
5TH DUKE OF RUTLAND
- 30 ml Tatratea
- 30 ml Henessy VS
- 5 drops of Angostura
- 1 brown sugar cube
- 1 large orange zest
- Build into the tea pot straight
- Stir it and serve a glass of champagne on the side