Sustainable bars are finally getting the recognition they deserve and Scöut London has been ranked one of the highest, coming 28th out of the top 50 bars in the world in 2019. Scöut was the brainchild of cocktail gurus Matt Whiley and Rich Woods, who recently relocated the bar to its current home right next to Hackney Central Station. Whiley, also known as The Talented Mr Fox has had a huge influence on the cocktail industry in London, always serving innovative flavours with an emphasis on seasonal produce and winning himself the title of Europe’s Best Mixologist in 2019. Woods, or The Cocktail Guy, is also an award winning bartender, coming second in the World’s Most Imaginative Bartender Competition after successfully running the bar at Duck and Waffle.
The interior at Scöut London has a minimalist vibe with long wooden benches, soft cushioning and olive green walls. It is a cosy, easygoing space where the staff are both welcoming and knowledgable, but never showing off. Down in the basement mixologists experiment with concoctions, stirring vats of fermenting plums and figs and infusing smoking tubes with herbs. Guests can watch what’s going on in the basement cocktail lab from the private booth named Gold Tooth.
The Scöut slogan, ‘live off the land’, is intrinsic to the bar. Their menu is a celebration of Great British produce, and the ingredients change daily based on what is available at that time. Produce is seasonal and fresh, and ranges from locally foraged to farm grown. The team at Scöut also follow a philosophy of sustainability and zero waste, meaning that they use every little bit of the ingredient, from the stalks of flowers to the stones in avocados. They are always finding innovative ways to use up left over cocktail ingredients, such as their ‘Wasted Wine’ which is created using fermented banana skin, cacao husk, pineapple weed and grape skin. By finding a new use for their food waste, the team at Scöut have created an ever changing list of 10 no-waste, closed-loop cocktails to entice and excite any cocktail drinking connoisseur.
The menu is an amalgamation of exciting, innovative drinks which focus more on the infusions and hues rather than the alcohol content itself. Their latest cocktail menu is inspired by local ecosystems. ‘Towns and Cities’ honours the ingredients found in and around London, think cocktails made from violets, eucalyptus and sumac collected locally by John the Poacher. Their Japanese quince and olives ready to be put into brine are found at Hackney Marshes, and their kiwis are grown further down the road in Tottenham. The ‘Hackney Spesh’ is a mixture of Ting, Ribena, Wray & Nephew Rum, tea, yarrow and hemp. Cocktails on the ‘Forest and Grasslands’ section utilise ingredients found in nature countrywide, and expect to notice flavours such as walnut leaf, pineapple weed and roasted pine cone. The ‘Cornerstone’ is made up of sunflower seed scotch, cacao husk, mugwort caramel and mahonia seed. The final section of the cocktail menu, ‘Freshwater and Marine’, is inspired by the British coast, and here you will find the ‘Scrimsaw’ cocktail which is made from gin, algae dry vermouth, fino, sea essence, sea lettuce and razor clams. Remember though, this is just an idea of what you might expect, you can never be quite sure what you will find here.
Having said this, some things on their menu are here to stay. The walls of the bar are lined with distilled infusions and pre-bottled cocktails made to speed up service. Their pre-bottled classics include the Martini made from local lemon leaf and olive distillates and the Old Fashioned made from whisky, fig leaf, toasted rice milk, eucalyptus bark caramel, oak bark and bitters. There is an enticing collection of non-alcoholic cocktails such as ‘Shot in the Dark’ made from Seedlip Spice, de-alcoholised Campari, native non-alcoholic vermouth, green coffee, birch bark and cacao husk. The team at Scöut also source an outstanding selection of beers from the Ink Spot Brewery, with excellent names such as Scöutstanding, Peace Scöut, Scöut Of This World, Get The F*** Scöut Of Here and Straight Scöuta Compton.
What doesn’t get used up to make beverages makes its way to the kitchen. Ingredients are dried out, fermented and infused to create an an excellent assortment of bar snacks and small plates which pair perfectly with the drinks menu. Just like the drinks, the food menu is subject to change, but you can expect things like house pickles, an assortment of cheeses made by Wildes in Tottenham and Neal’s Yard, sourdough bread, mushroom jerky and fennel infused salmon.
Scöut London is much more than a bar. This is a place to meet new people, share interesting ideas and inspire one another. You will never get bored here and there is always something new to try. Experience the real craftsmanship of mixology and bartending as they conjure up unimaginable drinks you won’t find anywhere else.
Address: 224 Graham Rd, Hackney