London has never been shy when it comes to culture or creativity. That said, Scout in Shoreditch takes this to new levels, pushing any and every boundary it can see; after all, have you ever heard of a London cocktail bar that exclusively pays homage to the best of Britain’s seasonal produce and ensures not a single leaf, peel or seed goes to waste in the process? With the ‘waste not, want not’ ethos running through its veins, I headed to Scout with a spring in my step, eager to dive into the bar’s seasonal cocktail menu.
The bar itself has a few Scandi influences - it‘s all clean lines, chic angular seating areas, larger tables for groups and intimate booth seating for smaller bookings. The cement walls are grey and smooth, while the spot lighting is bright and fresh. Fitting with the rustic vibe, the bar is backed by a multitude of shelves, stocked with spirits and bottles of homemade mixes, ready to be added together to make the drinks.
The Food & Drinks
All ingredients used in the cocktails at Scout - including many of the spirits - are foraged and sourced from the British Isles, so you won’t find a drink that includes citrus fruits or any other exotic herbs and spices. Rather you can expect to see a variety of ingredients you might never have heard of; I certainly hadn’t but that didn’t stop me wanting to order everything available. The menu features ten cocktails, five ferments and five beers at any one time, as well as a list of bar snacks that make use of any left-over ingredients from the bar to minimise waste.
On my visit, white asparagus was in full seasonal swing and was the star of my first drink. Simply named Asparagus, the cocktail blended the spring vegetable into Cocchi Americano vermouth before spinning the whole mixture in a centrifuge to clarify it. This was stirred down with caramelised white chocolate bourbon – a spirit made in a 72-hour process - and finished with a dash of tequila. It was light and sweet, with a smooth yet rich undertone from the white chocolate.
Next came The Fig Leaf, made with foraged fig leaves that were separately infused with Grey Goose vodka and Woodford Reserve whisky. The vodka is redistilled and then blended with infused and fresh Woodford Reserve. Completing the concoction, fermented gorse flower syrup is then added to the fold, along with Vetiver. That all may sound complex but the flavours are reminiscent of a smooth Old Fashioned. Visually, this drink is delightful, with a large cube of ice branded with the Scout logo in the centre and a glorious honey-like amber colour.
The cocktails are each priced at £11, which seems reasonable when you consider the effort, imagination and elbow-grease that goes into making each concoction. The team themselves are the ones sent out to forage and, in some cases, the process of making just one drink can take weeks!
As well as cocktails, the Ferments are a must try. Each made from fermented seasonal fruits, we enjoyed the Raspberry & Sorrel Ferment (£8), made with raspberries, fig leaves and bottled with sugar to carbonation. They add a dash of distilled Sorrel Vodka before bottling. This creates a stunningly light drink with delightfully small bubbles that dance around your mouth. It tastes like summer and is incredibly light in both taste and alcohol content.
To keep things on an even keel, we chose the house pickles (£5), accompanied by Scout’s very own mayo. On this occasion, we got to enjoy pickled fennel and bright pink beetroot. The pickle was light and fresh, with the mildest tart flavour to make our cheeks pucker. Best of all, these flavours nicely complemented the Androuet British cheese plate with rye bread and smoked apple puree (£10). The cheeses were a mixture of hard and creamy, with my favourite being the punch-packing Brighton Blue.
The team at Scout have passion, knowledge and a determination to do justice to the wonderful ingredients Britain has to offer. They’re keen to share their story, personally sitting down with each table to explain how the menu works and offer an insight into the process and flavour combination in each glass. But best of all, the sky is the limit with this bar. The team are constantly experimenting and creating new moulds that match the seasons. I’ll be back for sure.