Scout in Shoreditch: Delicious cocktails as close to zero-waste as you can get
As the philosophy of sustainability, locavore-ism and zero waste has spread ever further through the restaurant industry, it only makes sense for it to filter into the cocktail world as well. The “closed-loop” cocktail, in which ingredients that are traditionally thrown away are upcycled for new uses, rose to fame in London thanks to Ryan Chetiyawardana’s White Lyan – but now there’s a new kid on the block. Scout, the new bar from cocktail maestro Matt Whiley (Peg + Patriot, Talented Mr Fox), has landed in Shoreditch with an exciting menu of cocktails featuring seasonal, foraged and repurposed ingredients.
The bar itself is just a five-minute walk from Old Street Station. It’s a compact, Nordic-like modern space where all the attention is on the drinks themselves. The concrete-grey walls and long, dark booths form an industrial backdrop to the little glasses of nature you’ll order from the menu. The selection of drinks changes constantly, according to what’s in season and which ingredients the team has come across that might otherwise go to waste. There are ten cocktails at any given time, all succinctly named after their most prominent ingredient (Beetroot, Carrot) plus a revolving selection of ferments – wines made from unusual ingredients – and house-brewed beers.
On our visit we were greeted with a lip-smackingly tangy samphire and cucumber shooter, along with a friendly introduction to the menu from bar manager Alan, who’s also in charge of the laboratory of ferments and brews that are bubbling away in the basement. We were fortunate enough to be treated to the last of his crab-apple and macadamia ferment, an amazingly nutty dessert-style sparkling wine, and hear about the processes which go into making their drinks. Scout even has a house yeast that they developed from the ferment of a batch of strawberries – this really is as close to zero-waste as you can get!
The cocktails themselves are inventive and delicious. The Beetroot combined the earthy tones of beets with chocolate husks for a deep, rich flavour, while the Sea Buckthorn was a refreshing long take on a gin sour with a slight tartness from dried apricot.
Almost all of the ingredients used at Scout come from the UK, and that extends to the short list of snacks: the cheese plate features three British cheeses including an amazing Gorgonzola-style blue from Wales, which paired beautifully with the honey wine and vermouth-soaked Shiso cocktail.
For a concept-heavy bar, Scout has a truly welcoming atmosphere. The slightly unexpected hip-hop soundtrack did away with any fears of pretentiousness, and the staff, instead of being stuck behind a bar, have a sort of open kitchen from which they’ll happily come and chat to guests. This one’s definitely worth a visit.
★★★★★Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Daniel Masters
To book a table at Scout, 93 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3HZ, visit here.