db Interview: The Talented Mr Fox16th May, 2014 by Lucy Shaw
Taking up residence at the Town Hall Hotel this month is Matt Whiley, better known as The Talented Mr Fox, who has a penchant for off-the-wall ingredients. After a seven-year stint as a professional cricketer, Whiley sidestepped into drinks.
Having started a pop-up at One Leicester Street in Leicester Square offering crazy concoctions like a Bloody Mary made with pig’s blood and the Bone Shaker, featuring Bourbon, clarified buttermilk and smoked bone marrow, his residency at the tiny hotel bar proved so popular that he’s made a permanent home there. In addition, Whiley will be setting up shop in Bethnal Green, having jumped on the site of the former Viajante bar.
Christened Peg + Patriot in honour of its setting in Patriot Square and the old English word for a shot of liquor, libations at Mr Fox’s new baby will be equally as wacky as One Leicester Street, with the Marmite Martini and Salt Beef Sazerac headlining, the former made using a Marmite distillate and the latter with bagels from a nearby shop in Hackney.
“My wife’s family used to run a Jewish deli on Brick Lane, so I’ve wanted to make a salt beef-based cocktail for ages and Peg + Patriot seemed like the right place to do it,” Whiley says, adding, “Throwing the bagel, mustard and pickles into the mix gives the drink so much more depth.”
The Sazerac will be served with a mustard sachet pegged to the side of the glass filled with a black mustard leaf distillate that customers can add to the cocktail like they would bitters.
As for the Marmite Martini, with a Konik’s Tail vodka base, Whiley believes people will be pleasantly surprised by it. “It’s more delicate than you’d imagine.
The yeasty character really comes through, but we add dashes of lemon and absinthe with an atomiser to balance it out,” he says, admitting that, like Marmite, people will either love it or hate it.
Competing for attention alongside the Marmite Martini and Salt Beef Sazerac will be the Pho Money Pho Problems, a bonkers take on a classic Vietnamese beef soup dish inspired by the South East Asian restaurants populating neighbouring Kingsland Road. “There isn’t actually any meat in the cocktail – we make the Pho base spirit using Vietnamese spices, pak choi and lime leaves,” Whiley assures.
The Rice Rice Baby meanwhile, blends rice ice cream liqueur and sparkling wine. “I initially tried out the recipe with frozen yoghurt but it didn’t work. I wanted to do an Ice Cream Bellini and the roast rice in the liqueur really adds to the creaminess of the spirit,” Whiley enthuses.