Holiday Tea at the Drake Hotel: a Chicago tradition

Holiday Tea at the Drake Hotel: a Chicago tradition

Holiday Tea in the Palm Court at Chicago’s Drake Hotel is a tradition for many. Although the Drake’s Palm Court is not the only place in town to participate in this time honored ritual, it is often the first place that comes to mind when wanting to indulge.

For tea in its most classic British form The Drake Hotel is a perfect choice–after all the queen had tea here. Yes, that queen, Queen Elizabeth the II.

Since its opening in the 1920’s, The Drake Hotel has maintained a British vibe becoming the home away from home for many of Britain’s royal family starting with the Prince of Wales who stayed there in 1924. Other royals–both Brits and non-Brits–have continued the tradition including Princess Diana and the Empress of Japan.


Holiday decor at The Drake Hotel. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer.

If you are looking for a traditional afternoon tea, you can’t go wrong here. During the holidays the festive atmosphere is kicked up a notch with elegant decorations and carolers (selected days/times). The atmosphere, described by some as the regal, is hard to beat.

The Drake serves afternoon tea (or low tea), not to be confused with high tea, in Palm Court daily throughout the year.

Afternoon tea, part of a tradition that began in 1840 by the Seventh Duchess of Bedford, consists of a mini-meal accompanied by tea.  Originally consumed by the upper class, afternoon tea was typically served in the mid-afternoon as part of a social event to stave off hunger before the evening meal was served around 8 pm.

High tea, during the 18th and 19th century was typically a working class evening meal served when factory workers arrived home famished after a long day of work. The meal consisted of bread, vegetables, cheese and occasionally meat.

Since those times the terms high and afternoon tea have sometimes been used interchangeably…but at The Drake–it is always afternoon tea.

The Drake’s afternoon tea consists of an exciting new Palais Des Thes menu featuring a choice from 17 unique custom-made teas. The teas are served in individual tea pots accompanied by the traditional three-tiered tea tray filled with an arrangement of finger sandwiches; breads and scones; and seasonal desserts.

The tea and food selections are $45. Guests can add sparkling wine for $7; La Marca Prosecco $10; Domaine Chandon Brut $12; a bellini $13 or a mimosa for $13.

DraketeatrayThe Holiday Tea Menu

Finger Sandwich Selection

Cucumber & tomato on white bread
Lobster salad on mini brioche, micro greens
Roasted Turkey Breast salad , Havarti cheese, Lemon Aioli.

Festive Petit Fours

Pumpkin cheesecake on a gingersnap cookie
Warm apple pie tartlet
Mini paris-brest

English Scones, Lemon Poppy Seed, Pumpkin Financier

accompanied by preserves, lemon curd & English double Devon cream

 There is a separate tea menu for little princes and princesses (ages 4 to 12) featuring hot chocolate or kiddie cocktail along with finger sandwiches; Festive Pastry Petits, scones; and seasonal desserts priced at $22.

Guests are free to walk around the main floor of the hotel before or after tea where they can take in the beautiful holiday decor including the magnificent gingerbread house pictured here. The house was built in the Drake’s kitchen by students from the After School Matters (ASM) Culinary Program under the mentorship of Drake Hotel Executive Chef Herve Cuyeu and the ASM Culinary Arts Director Gloria Hafte.


The gingerbread house. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

For Holiday Tea now through Sunday, January 3, 2016 hours have been extended from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The rest of the year, afternoon tea in The Drake’s Palm Court takes place from 1 pm. to 5 pm. A harpist plays Wednesdays through Sundays at all afternoon teas.

A reservation is highly recommended for afternoon tea. A seating is about an hour and a half long. For reservations: 312 932.4619. The Drake Hotel is just off North Michigan Avenue at 140 East Walton Place.

Subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email

If you would like to keep in touch with what’s happening in Chicago, like us on Facebook or subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email. To subscribe, type your email address in the box below and click the “create subscription” button. Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Leave a comment

  • Advertisement:
  • Advertisement:
  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Meet The Blogger

    Carole Kuhrt Brewer

    Arts, entertainment and dining journalist..

  • Follow me on Twitter.

  • Recent posts

  • Categories

  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: