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July 10, 2014

When Edinburgh’s Sheraton Hotel & Spa invited us along to their Festival Square hotel for a gin afternoon tea, they had us at gin and afternoon tea.

The hotel wished to show off their summer take on the classic British afternoon tea, which will be served with the tipple until the end of August, paying homage to the hotel bar’s collection of 52 gins.

The Sheraton also said they had a surprise treat for us at lunchtime. More on that later.

First we paid a visit to the Sheraton’s One Square Bar to learn more about their gin collection.

Gin collection

When it comes to gin, there’s little One Square Bar Manager Hugh Gibb doesn’t know about the subject.

As he showed us the bar’s gin collection, his knowledge and passion for the spirit shone through.

“At the moment we stock 52 gins but the numbers constantly change. It’s always a considered collection,” he said.

“We try and stock as many different types as possible, gins from different regions, gins with different methods of distillation.”

“Cocktail bar tenders like to experiment. Creating things that haven’t been made before is what they live for and gin is the perfect base spirit to do that with because of the amount of botanicals.”

“It’s such a good spirit because there is something for everyone and there are lots of different types. If you are not a huge gin fan immediately, it’s not that you don’t like gin; you just haven’t found the one you like yet.”

Learn more about gin from Hugh in the video below.

Afternoon tea

Next we headed into One Square’s dining area to experience their Bloom gin afternoon tea.

One Square are well known for their themed afternoon teas, with previous examples being Wimbledon and Christmas themed afternoon teas.

The Bloom gin afternoon tea will run all summer and include the traditional cakes and sandwiches with a gin themed twist.

Example dishes include heather honey glazed ham sandwich with a bloom gin jelly and strawberry macaroons accompanied by a little tube filled with Bloom gin to squeeze inside.

The tea is served with a Bloom gin cocktail.

Watch chef Craig Hart talk about the Bloom gin afternoon tea in the video below.

Dining on the pass

After we tucked into the delicious afternoon tea, staff at the Sheraton led us down to the kitchen for an exclusive behind the scenes look at how the hotel prepares five star food for its guests.

The recently redone kitchen was nothing short of spectacular. Gleaming silver surfaces and the latest hi tech equipment, it was the most impressive restaurant kitchen we’ve ever seen.

It was then One Square told us we would be eating our five course lunch right there on the kitchen pass; as chef Craig prepared the dishes before our very eyes.

Craig quickly got to work preparing our first course; a pineapple carpaccio served with rocket, ox spring ham and parmesan.

Things heated up with the hearty butternut squash served with coriander, apple and a melt in your mouth goat’s cheese ball which was dropped in the centre of the soup.

The main course was fresh turbot served with parmieter potatoes, tomato and asparagus. As I’m a vegetarian I was treated to stuffed globe artichoke instead which was simply outstanding.

Watch Craig prepare the turbot on the pass in the video below.

Dessert was a gin and tonic sorbet and jelly encased in a sugar case. It was a little strange to slurp on a gin and tonic flavoured sorbet but definitely strange in a good way.

Our tummies filled with delicious food, we thanked the Sheraton for their hospitality. But little did we know they had another treat to come.

Dessert on the pass

First chef Craig cleared away our plates and cleaned the surface of the pass until it was spotless.

He then brought out some vanilla, mango, raspberry and chocolate, sauces which he sprayed on a circle on the surface.

He began to scatter honeycomb, chocolate, raspberry crumble, blueberries, pistachio crisps, violets, dried strawberries, biscotti and dried oranges.

It was then we realised this was going to be our second dessert which we would be eating right from the pass! It looked delicious enough at this point but there was one final flourish.

Chef Craig disappeared into the back and came out clutching a chocolate egg which he lifted high and dropped it leading it to explode all over the pass.

We were then given a spoon and told to tuck in!

Craig told us no one who has dined at the pass has ever finished the dessert and try as we might to scoop up every morsel of chocolate, marshmallow, fruit and cream, we simply couldn’t manage it all.

Watch Craig prepare dessert on the pass in the video below.

We left the Sheraton hotel stuffed but happy after an extremely enjoyable day.

Dining on the pass was truly memorable and like nothing we had experienced in a restaurant before.

A fine dining meal in an unforgettable setting.

£23 for the Bloom gin afternoon tea, £16 for two courses from the chet’s set menu and £29 for the Sunday buffet plus jazz entertainment at One Square within the Sheraton Hotel when booking on

You can watch each fantastic course we ate in our YouTube playlist below.