One of the UK’s top bartenders is opening a new eco-friendly bar in Hoxton dedicated to cutting food waste and celebrating the best produce from the British Isles.
Scout is the latest project from Matt Whiley, the creative brain behind Peg + Patriot in Bethnal Green and co-founder of Purl and the Worship Street Whistling Shop – three venues that helped change the face of the London bar scene with their emphasis on homemade ingredients, culinary techniques and often-playful presentation.
“So many things in the bar world end up getting thrown away – what we’re trying to do with Scout is figure out ways to reduce this waste and make really good drinks at the same time,” says Whiley.
The 35-seat ground-floor bar opens on April 11 (bookings and daily walk-ins available) and will offer a short, regularly changing menu of 10 cocktails with an emphasis on seasonal and foraged ingredients, as well as on creative flavour combinations such as strawberry wine, lemon balm gin and whey; carrot, hemp seed and liquorice; and burnt beetroot, horseradish, apple and hay vermouth with herb oil. Garnishes will change by the season and sometimes by the day. “It depends what’s available,” Whiley says. “Right now we’re awaiting some beautiful blossoms from our forager.”
Offcuts and spare fruit will go towards creating a selection of “house ferments” that will be served by the glass; some of the first include strawberry wine, rhubarb wine, and blackberry and pine. A small selection of natural wines and craft beer will be available, too, including at least one beer brewed on site. “We’ve already got several ready to go, including a pale ale with really tropical hop flavours, and a stout flavoured with honeybush,” says Whiley.
The layout will also disrupt traditional ideas of a cocktail bar, he adds. “It will be more like an open kitchen, with bartenders coming out to your table.” Expect decor that’s pared-back and natural, with a selection of artisan vessels including glassware and ceramics sourced from Japan and Turkey.
A short snacks menu will also work towards Scout’s zero-waste goal by making use of every last part of any produce that comes through the door. Sample dishes include toasted sourdough with house kohlrabi sauerkraut and London coppa; fried vegetable skins with house seasoning; and pickled celeriac with truffle.
In the basement, Scout will house the Laboratory, complete with a 10-seat chef’s table where guests can take a front-row seat and sample a daily-changing menu of recipes developed by the team. This space will also be available for private hire, with plans for mixology masterclasses and events further down the line. “Eventually, I want to offer three-hour taster menus created in collaboration with different chefs, or themed around particular ingredients or a particular producer,” says Whiley. “There’s so much we can do – it’s a challenge but it’s really exciting.”