Scout, 3rd October
I like an experimental cocktail bar as much as the next hipster (i,e, a lot) but there are just some flavours that should not be distilled down to their essence and served up in alcoholic liquid form. Turns out beetroot is one of them.
I'm no stranger to a savoury cocktail and I think they can be done very well. When I went to Peg + Patriot (another from the creative mind behind Scout) whose MO is this kind of 'food as drink' combination, I enjoyed my drinks. I like a drink where you go 'ooh, you know what, there is something a bit fennelly about this but it's subtle and delicious'. Not 'wow... gosh... hmmm... that really does taste like beetroot'. Of course, beet lovers would perhaps disagree. But that drink was more of a chore than a delightful experience.
Luckily, that wasn't my drink and I had in fact ordered it for my friend to be mischievous. I had ordered the Damson and this was actually a lot less hard work on the ol' tastebuds. Still adventurous - juniper branch, damson and seaweed but an interesting taste.
However, I found Scout a little too hipster and that is saying something. All of the drinks were meant to be foraged, farmed and grown locally and sustainably (natch) and all were a bit too reminiscent of an allotment. Each was named for the main ingredient/flavour profile. The 'Beetroot' also had horseradish and spices. The 'Tomato' was complemented by pickled elderberry. 'Damson' had juniper branch, damson and seaweed. They had a butternut squash ferment. Too much!
After this we popped into TT Liquor which had a special event on for London Cocktail Week which was quite fun - scotch eggs and whiskey, a combination I could get used to. I liked its sort of Wild West style grocery store motif.
And finally, we settled in for a few drinks at The Birdcage, an East End institution which I hadn't yet managed to get to. At some point it has been taken over by The Draft House chain so I'm a bit annoyed I didn't get there before this happened, but they haven't turned it into a carbon copy of their other places, so I assume they've continued in its original spirit. Drinks were reasonably priced and the bartender was friendly so that place gets a thumbs up.