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A silver tiered tea tray holds a collection of small bites.
Tipsy tea will feature a menagerie of delights from chef Carrie Nahabedian.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

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Day Drink in Style All Summer Long at Kostali’s Boozy Afternoon Tea Parties

Celebrated chef Carrie Nahabedian revamps high tea for 2021

It’s been a wild year-and-change for James Beard Award-winning chef Carrie Nahabedian (Brindille, Naha) and her newest venue Kostali, a coastal-themed Mediterranean restaurant inside the Gwen hotel. Opening just months before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the team designed Kostali as an antidote to the drab dining venues often associated with hotels. Now, as locals and tourists tentatively venture back out for dine-in service, Nahabedian is presenting another twist on a classic: Tipsy Tea Parties, her boozy take on high tea.

A bartender pours alcohol out of a jigger into a white ceramic teapot with orange flowers on the side.
Bartenders offer four boozy tea creations.

Nahabedian’s food and drink menus aim to lure cabin fever-stricken Chicagoans with creative (and Insta-friendly) presentations, like the eye-catching three-tiered “tipsy tea tower.” Kostali patrons will find a smattering of sweet and savory snacks like brioche with caviar cream cheese and radish, saffron cake with huckleberry jam, and candied beet with pistachio. Rather than relying on old teatime standbys like scones, Nahabedian has taken the opportunity to highlight slightly more opulent, modern versions with hints of the flavors featured on the restaurant’s other menus.

Though the boozy tea concoctions are served in quaint floral teapots, this is not grandma’s tin of Twinings: options include the Barely Functioning (Japanese whisky, matcha, honey liqueur) and High Maintenance (masala chai, spiced rum, frothed coconut milk, cinnamon syrup). There are also bottles of bubbly a la carte, plus a menu for customers who’d rather sip sans alcohol, in more traditional flavors like English Breakfast and Earl Grey.

Cookies and a small cake sit on the top tier of a silver tea caddy
Saffron cake with huckleberry jam can balance out the booze.
Kostali’s Mediterranean flavors are woven into the tea tower menu.

Kostali first opened in late 2019, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic touched down in Chicago. Empty office buildings and a near complete absence of tourism have devastated downtown restaurants and hotels. Short-term specials like this one give Chicagoans a reason to visit the Gwen and whet their appetite for a lunch or dinner visit.

Tipsy tea parties are open with reservations available on the Gwen’s website.

Tipsy tea party at Kostali, 521 N. Rush Street, 5th Floor, Seatings at noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

A teapot pours liquid into a floral teacup. Inside the cup, black cursive letters read “I love you. Be quiet.”
Careful not to spill.

The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Chicago

521 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 645-1500 Visit Website

Kostali

521 North Rush Street, , IL 60611 (312) 645-1500 Visit Website
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