Festive Afternoon Tea at 1901, Leicester

We’ve been following the process of the 1901 at the Turkey Cafe for quite some time now. Their dedication to innovative cocktails, in beautiful settings, has only gone from strength to strength in that time.

Amazingly I had accidentally managed to reset my camera to a low resolution so apologies if some of the photos don’t quite do it justice. I wondered why everything looked so weird on the viewfinder!

So… mulled Jaegermeister. That’s a thing.

During the present season of goodwill, they have created a bespoke festive cocktail menu, supported with a delicious afternoon tea and I was delighted to be invited along to give it a try, since they have happily extended the menu to take us all the way through the dark month of January.

Yep. That’s Santa’s Boot.

Here we are, in the slow time betwixt Christmas and New Year, and yet at 1901 the festive spirit will remain alive for some time to come. The festive cocktails are subtle, for the most part, yet extremely clever and totally delicious. I’ll grant you, the Santa’s Boot isn’t particularly subtle, but the Christmas Spice Espresso is a clever take on an old favourite. Slightly sweeter than your average espresso martini it gets its flavour profile from the heady coffee, the deep salted caramel vodka, and a light, but fragrant in-house made Christmas spice syrup.

Don’t worry, he didn’t drown. I had already eaten his head.

And then we were on to the afternoon tea, and what a spread it was. Beautifully presented on a delicate cake stand, we were treated to an array of finger sandwiches, including the obligatory turkey, cranberry and stuffing. They were light and delicious.

From there we were on to the cream tea – a fluffy, homemade scone with absolutely perfect texture served with jam and a thick clotted cream. With the afternoon tea you have a number of options – for £9.95 per person you can have it with unlimited tea and coffee, and this would be super with the scone. You can upgrade at £14.95 to have sparkling afternoon tea, or go the whole hog and have a festive cocktail with it for £15.95. This is a super great deal as the cocktails cost between £8 and £10 for the seasonal specials. Bargain city!

At the top of the afternoon tea tower was a fresh cake pop – with sponge, white chocolate and coconut for texture. It was sweet and decadent, bordering on the ‘so wrong it’s right’. I’m not the world’s most dedicated sweet eater but I just couldn’t put it down until it was all devoured. Another homemade classic, then followed up by the homemade mince pie. A winter spectacular and no mistake. And so very filling!

It would have been rude not to have another stab at the festive cocktail menu before leaving, and so I managed to squeeze in a maple and frankincense Old Fashioned. Once again, this was a new twist on an old favourite and I love those heady, strong cocktails from the old school. The frankincense bitters added a really unusual, distinctive but delicious perfume, which was complimented by the surprisingly heady aroma from the smoked ice ball. Yep, that’s a smoked ice cube. The touch of sweetness coming through from the maple was just enough to offset the mule kick of the Jim Beam oaked bourbon and overall this made for a cocktail which summed up Christmas in a log cabin, in front of an open fire, to sweet perfection.

Stir it up!!

Yep, you guessed it, although I have fallen for the espresso martini as much as everyone else, the Old Fashioned was definitely my favourite. Its charm was understated and intelligent. You should get down and try it.

Thanks to 1901 for inviting us along for such a gorgeous treat. I loved sitting at the upstairs bar, watching the world go by and enjoying the beauty of the original tiles at the back of the bar. The Turkey Cafe building is really such a unique gem in Leicester. Long may it reign.


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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