Taste drive at Peg + Patriot in east London

Peg + Patriot

Mark Ludmon checks out the innovative cocktails at east London bar Peg + Patriot

With its two rotary evaporators purring away in the corner and very few branded spirits behind the bar, Peg + Patriot in east London is out of the ordinary. Since opening in May, it has become one of the leading innovators in cocktails, drawing on scientific techniques to challenge expectations about the flavour and appearance of drinks. The team led by founder Matt Whiley (pictured below) with bar managers James Stevenson (pictured bottom) and Ally Martin have now come up with an almost totally new menu which again experiments with unusual flavour combinations and ingredients. “It’s labour intensive but it works once you have good processes in place,” Matt points out.

The Doncaster Miners Club Cocktail starts relatively straightforwardly with Moonshine Kid Dog’s Nose Gin – Matt’s own creamy gin created through cold-distillation under vacuum, with Chinook and Columbus hops from the US and more traditional botanicals such as juniper, angelica and coriander. This is mixed with a coal distillate that adds a charcoal-like flavour, balanced by chrysanthemum and lavender.

English hops feature in Hoppy Seconds which combines cognac, rye whiskey, raspberry amaro and a dash of Peychaud’s Bitters with a distillate made from Phoenix hops that gives the drink a delicious malt chocolate flavour. Rich, dark sumac honey is used for the punningly named Sumac My Bitch Up, combined with cucumber, lemon, kümmel and the bar’s creamy gin made from Greek yoghurt.

With 12 new cocktails in all, other ingredients include carrot-riesling cordial, chipotle orange, fennel pollen, stripped Aperol and pistachio gin. They join favourites such as the Vesgroni – a hybrid made with stripped Campari, gin, americano and Konik’s Tail vodka. There are also non-alcoholic versions of a gin and tonic, an Aperol Spritz and a Campari and soda that taste like the real thing. The bar is also offering The Young Cuban, the cocktail that Ally created to win a place as one of the three “most promising” bartenders in the UK’s Bacardi Legacy competition in September.

matt whiley peg and patriot

After starting his bartending career in Nottingham, Matt’s interest in new techniques for cocktails developed at consultancy Fluid Movement which he founded with Thomas Aske, Tristan Stephenson and Bryan Pietersen in 2009. After working for drinks brands and other operators, they had free rein when they set up their first bar, Purl, in London’s Marylebone, followed by The Worship Street Whistling Shop. Matt left Fluid over a year ago, setting up his own consultancy Talented Mr Fox which ran the bar at now-closed One Leicester Street in Leicester Square. He continues to develop drinks for other venues such as chef Tom Sellers’ restaurant Story at London Bridge.

As well as creating their own spirits and liqueurs, Matt and the team are increasingly making bespoke spirits for other bars. Dog’s Nose gin is also gaining distribution, available in about 50 bars and through Speciality Drinks, Amathus and Maverick Drinks. Among other new ventures, Matt hopes to open a new site in London or Nottingham with Tom Sellers. “There are bigger plans for 2015,” he promises.

Peg + Patriot, Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF
Tel: 020 7871 0460

james stevenson peg and patriot

Originally published in the November 2014 print edition of Bar magazine.

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