The tea menu at Mandarin Oriental’s Tea Lounge is exquisite; the cocktails in the bar, delicious and sophisticated. It was just a matter of time before someone would set them up on a date. Bartending supervisor Michael LaPenna did the matchmaking. “We wanted to turn guests on to some of our special select teas by incorporating them in a well-balanced craft cocktail,” LaPenna says. The resulting menu of tea-inspired drinks looks to the tea itself to suggest coordinating spirits and fruits. And all three stand up as delicious cocktails, whether it’s teatime or ’tini time.
The Kiwi Green Tea Fizz, for example, pairs ginger and kiwi with green tea, “A light, refreshing cocktail to complement high tea,” he says. “Slightly sweet and spicy.” The Tea-tini is similarly savory and sweet. “The sweet apple juice and agave nectar work well with the caramel notes you get from the bourbon. The light and fragrant, finely rolled Jasmine Pearl Tea is the perfect addition,” LaPenna says. “For bourbon lovers this is a must-try.” On the sweet and citrusy side is the Royal Tea, made with top-grade oolong from Formosa with rare Osmanthus flowers, “perfect after a day in the hot Las Vegas sun.”
In a cocktail shaker, combine 1½ ounces Bulleit bourbon, ¾ ounce agave nectar, 1 ounce Fuji apple juice, a splash of lemon juice and 1½ ounces organic jasmine pearl tea. Add ice, shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a mint sprig or a lemon twist.
Kiwi Green Tea Fizz
Muddle the flesh of one fresh, peeled kiwi with ¾ ounce simple syrup. Add 2 ounces Veev açai liqueur, ½ ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur and 1½ ounces lychee green tea. Add ice, shake and strain over fresh crushed ice. Top with ginger ale and garnish with a slice of fresh kiwi.
In a cocktail shaker, combine 1½ ounce Abosolut Mandarin vodka, 1 ounce simple syrup, ½ ounce lemon juice and 1½ ounce Osmanthus oolong tea. Add ice, shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Have your teacake and champers, too
The Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge menu tells the charming if perhaps condensed history of the afternoon tea ritual. Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria, the Duchess of Bedford, it says, experienced “a sinking feeling” at about 4 p.m. each day. A woman in need of a pick-me-up if ever there was! And while pots of tea and little plates of dreamy meringue cookies and dainty sandwiches may have helped set the Duchess back to rights, we find that nothing lifts spirits quite like bubbles. For $18 extra, you can top your tea service off with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne. This, coupled with the view from either the Tea Lounge or Mandarin Bar, makes the world 23 stories below suddenly seem to be a far more civilized place.
$40 Classic English Afternoon Tea, $58 Veuve Clicquot Afternoon Tea, 2:30-5 p.m. daily, 888-881-9367, MandarinOriental.com/lasvegas.