10 London wine-focused pubs and bars to visit when they reopen

Diogenes The Dog

Blyde says: Despite its infamy as The Rose & Crown for being the site of a shooting whereby a man shot his friend for smoking too much of a cannabis joint they were sharing, Sunny Hodge bore no fear in taking on the somewhat isolated venue and making it a destination. With his designer partner, Paolina, he cryptically renamed it Diogenes The Dog and camouflaged it with Devil’s ivy, stirrup-like wine racks, which he learnt to weld together, an alter-esque tasting counter, and most importantly, an embracing attitude to educating his guests on a truly exceptional selection of uncommon bottles.

Formerly of Margot and The Fordwich Arms, Hodge says his endgame is “to grow, maintain and push the limits of the London drinks industry and maintain the amazing relationships I have with friends, family and loved ones.”

During a “rollercoaster” first year of trading, Hodge “adapted, grew, learned, and drove Diogenes the Dog forward” increasing the wine list “a tad” while adding “beers in Burgundy glasses” for theatre.

All wines, including a Bulgarian Pet-Nat, Texan Blanc du Bois and Chinese Marselan blend, are available by-the-glass, bottle and to take away. One of Hodge’s favourites is the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Goutte D’Argent. “Winemaker, Pascal Marty spent three years in Japan, bringing back a specific Sake yeast to create a super wine fermented at crazy low temperatures,” he says. Sip these with a “boozy cheeseboard”, cured Belgian “Secreto 07” ribeye, or “seasonal” toasty.

For those yearning for structured vinous exploration, Hodge’s tastings programme includes the uniquely authored Scientific Wine Course. “Remaining true to the unfluffy and cynical nature of Diogenes, we aim to uncover how wine works logically using tangible and scientific principles to enable one to understand wine lists,” he says. Other events include LGBT-friendly socials and “soulful Barrel & Blues” nights.

Come Friday nights, Hodge has added Bar Aspen to his repertoire, featuring live music, small plates and of course, vinous esoterica. “Across the river in Camden Town, our Speakeasy features funk-free natural wines.”

Why the name? Prone to philosophical moments, Hodge takes inspiration from the father of cynicism, Diogenes. “One of the founders of the philosophy of cynicism, it is with this inquisitive nature with which we approach our wines,” he says.

Diogenes is now operating as a wine shop, grocer and delivery service. It is even offering a dial a sommelier service. For more information, click here. 

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