Looking for bars in Hackney? Read our review of Scout, or check out our guide here
Scout in a nutshell
Since it first opened in Shoreditch in 2017, Matt Whiley’s Scout has raked in the plaudits for its zero-waste ethos and focus on British produce, as well as its adventurous, creative approach to cocktail making. Fast-forward to 2019 and it’s ranked number 28 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list; set up new digs in Hackney; and fellow drinks maestro Rich Woods now co-owns the bar with Matt.
Together they bring masses of experience and know-how to Scout, with Matt previously responsible for the likes of Worship Street Whistling Shop, Purl and Peg + Patriot, and Rich behind the drinks offerings at Duck & Waffle and SUSHISAMBA.
Where is it? A four-minute walk from Hackney Central overground station.
What’s the vibe?
Clean, almost spartan minimalism, with muted pale-green walls, pared-back banquette seating and the occasional print. The space is dominated by a sleek bar, and shelves neatly filled with a Willy Wonka-esque array of ferments, cordials and infusions, from sandalwood vodka to samphire gin. A slightly clinical feel is enlivened by the friendly, easygoing, knowledgeable staff, who serve up drinks with impressive speed (many of the cocktails are pre-bottled to streamline service).
What’s the drinks menu like?
Scout launched a new menu this summer, Ecosystems, which is divided into three sections. Town & Cities focusses on ingredients sourced in and around London; Freshwater & Marine is inspired by the British coast; and Forest & Grasslands takes its cue from nature throughout the country. Ingredients are sourced with a laser eye on sustainability and locality, from ingredients gathered from Hackney Marshes by urban forager Jon the Poacher (@jonthepoacher) to seasonal ferments made from the skins of fruits and vegetables.
Which cocktails to order?
The Roe-Say – salmon roe distillate, tequila, strawberry, rose and native wasabi – was one of the highlights of the night: punchy and boozy yet still light, fruitily complex with a subtly funky saline edge. The Scrimsaw was like drinking the sea in the best possible way, with gin, algae dry vermouth, fino sherry, sea lettuce and razor clam coming together to make a brinily refreshing drink with a brackish twang that you’ll either love or hate, depending on your palate.
Back to School GnT listed “cut grass” as well as gin, tomato vine, clarified tomato and tonic in its list of ingredients, and was deliciously smooth and sprightly with tomato flavour, with herbaceous and vegetal notes – all gin and tonics should be like this. The Eucalyptus Royal with eucalyptus leaf vodka, fermented birch sap and eucalyptus bark was sparklingly fresh, with well-balanced, cooling menthol tones. We also tried an appealingly scrumpy-like apple and pear ferment.
Is there any food? Snacks on offer at Scout range from pretty plates of homemade pickles to platters of English cheeses with E5 Bakehouse sourdough and the bar’s own spicy tomato chutney.
Where to go nearby for dinner: It’s an eight-minute walk to wine bar and small-plates restaurant Peg.
Price: From £10.50 for a cocktail.