Peg + Patriot, in the old Town Hall in Bethnal Green, is the very stylish yet understated new bar by Matt Whiley, whose other bars Purl, Worship Street Whistling Shop and the sadly missed Dach & Sons, were renowned for pushing the boundaries of the cocktail.
At his new venture he ratchets up the ante, by not only continuing to concoct mind-blowingly original drinks, but also by actually making the bar’s own spirits. Indeed, as you sit at the bar to drink, you can see the mini distillation machines working away, currently making a chartreuse-based spirit.
The look of the place is very elegant and grown up, a bit like a really classy New York cocktail bar, with dark grey walls, black leather banquettes, parquet flooring and exposed light fittings. The U-shaped bar itself is a marvel of classic finishes and tones, with a handy copper shelf to rest your drinks on. Even the beautiful glassware has been carefully chosen to complement the overall look. The uber-friendly bartenders give you a bottle water as soon as you sit down, which is always a nice touch, and keep your glasses topped up without needing to be asked.
As for the cocktails, well, they are simply mind-blowing! Eschewing the silly props that tended to distract from the drinks at Purl, the (relatively small) list simply zings with originality and invention, and all very reasonably priced. The ‘D.Groner’ is like a twisted Sazerac, cognac and bitters mixed with a distillation of a salt beef beigel (yes, you read that right) and served with a tiny pipette of mustard leaf infusion. The ‘Lati No Gin’ is made with the bar’s own ’Mexican’ gin and bittered blackcurrant vermouth, and was really full of depth and flavour, with lots going on. After a start like that you’d think the quality would drop, but oh no, the ‘Pho Money Pho Problems’ evokes the nearby Vietnamese restaurants of Kingsland Road with its combination of distilled noodle soup, pak choi and lime. Beautifully presented with coriander and chilli on a leaf atop the glass, it had hints of fennel and coriander and really did taste of the east. Finally, a ‘Rogue Fox’, which was described as a ‘banana ketchup whisky sour’ had undertones of cardamom and (again home-made) distilled parsley. It was absolutely delicious, with the eclectic flavours working in complete harmony.
You’d think that having so many odd and unusual ingredients would be a bit of a gimmick, but the cocktails at Peg + Patriot are all about the flavour, and boy, what flavours! A small food menu prepared by the chefs at the Typing Room restaurant across the hall complements the drinks perfectly, with the Iberico pork and foie gras sliders being a really indulgent way to soak up some of the alcohol so you can try a few more of the amazing drinks.
Peg + Patriot
Town Hall Hotel
Tel: 0208 709 4528