At the Arch Bar and Wellington Lounge in London's Park Lane Intercontinental Hotel, high tea is served without the tea. Order the Poor Man's Punch if you fancy gin and you may find you can never go back to drinking alcohol from a tumbler. Arriving in its own teapot and with a proper cup and saucer, the first indication that it's no normal concoction is the white smoke that pours from the lidless rim of the pot. (Dry ice imparts the theatrics.) Pink and fizzing when it's poured into the waiting cup, it's almost off-putting to drink—at first. However, the cold mixture of Hendrick's gin, fresh lemonade, cucumber, orange, mint, and strawberries, plus the magical effervescence, is delightfully refreshing on a hot summer day and hardly less fun even in winter.
The drink owes its name to the period in London's history when gin was indeed a poor man's beverage, distilled in basements and consumed like water. These days, at upwards of £16 a serving, it's decidedly more highbrow than low. Still, Poor Man's Punch is worth a bit of a dent in the wallet for the way it's served and the taste you'll remember long after you've consumed the last drop. Proper pinky salute optional.