What's the Tea?

Wed. October 21, 2020 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

It's tea time in Chicago with a whole new immersive experience to enjoy this fall. Mad Hatter's Gin & Tea Party has arrived at 2239 S. Michigan Avenue. This storyline and format has already been a smash in New York, London and Los Angeles, so it was time to hit the Windy City. 

Just a few doors down from Lips Chicago, the event space has easy parking nearby in the South Loop. Prepare to sign a COVID disclaimer form with the door person, bring an ID and wear a mask the entire time while on the premises. Upon entering, the Cheshire Cat greets guests with funny banter, then a host will seat you in a social distant manner in the main dining room. 

It's always six o'clock no matter what the real time is so get comfortable and enjoy the ride. Your table is set with tea cups, Topo Chico water and appetizers. Don't arrive hungry as this is mainly a drinking adventure. If one doesn't drink there are mocktails offered along the way by Tweedledee or Tweedledum. Hats are offered as you wait or bringing your own is encouraged. 

The main characters from the Lewis Carroll book Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There are all on hand to entertain people in the hour long show. The Mad Hatter eventually graces the front stage with the Dormouse on the organ in the middle of the room and the March Hare towards the entrance. All wore face shields and masks were enforced when participants were not drinking. 

Speaking of drinking, the tea party cocktails are poured throughout the evening with a focus on the Rabbit Hole Bespoke Gin fresh from the Kentucky distillery. A small potion, or shot of gin with grapefruit Topo Chico, starts off the festivities and then moves into cocktail number one The Pool of Tears made with butterfly pea flower tea and citric acid. 

My favorite was the Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat with tropical flavors of pineapple juice and dehydrated flower petals paired with the smooth gin. For the Instagram crowd look to the third cocktail The Smoking Caterpillar with cranberry juice. The server will add the smoke bubble as you take pictures or shoot video. 

Snacks include a delicious cream cheese filled cucumber, a chopped olive tea sandwich, a cookie and a cupcake.

The fun, sometimes improvisational, dialogue from the cast makes the time fly by and the short show seems just the right amount of time to be indoors. Theaters are shuttered in Chicago as of now and the introduction of other characters into the story would employ more actors, so something to be consider as the tea party evolves in the future. Hats off to the Hatter and cast who are queer friendly and have jokes that everyone can enjoy. 

Escorts to the bathroom and exiting the venue keep things organized in a time where crowds make everyone nervous. The carefree attitude of the characters matches well with following the rule and guidelines when we are all on edge. 

Visit to reserve tickets today. Plan ahead as this popular outing is already selling out shows with a very limited capacity allowed in the space. Dont be MAD about it, just book your trip down the rabbit hole now!