Food & Drink

You seriously need to try these cocktails made using burnt toast and ants

Waddle into bar and restaurant Duck & Waffle, perched some 40 floors above the city of London, and you might be forgiven for thinking Banksy had been moonlighting as an interior decorator.

For once you've taken in all the horizon-spanning views, the second thing to catch your eye is its urban-style decor, speckled with more than a few rustic influences. And it's a theme that even runs through the cocktail menu, which is split into two camps: urban decay and urban foraging.

The brainchildren of Rich Woods, the venue's Head of Spirit & Cocktail Development, these heady potions use all manner of alt ingredients. On the foraging side of things there's bark, pollen, dandelion roots and wood ants - YES, ANTS. On the decay side of things, there's burnt toast, banana and avocado skin.

Possibly the only cocktails to know about if you're looking for your next adventure in the capital, it really does give a new meaning to the phrase 'waste not, want not'. 

Picking the six best, we asked Woods to describe his maverick thinking.

  • You seriously need to try these cocktails made using burnt toast and ants

    Green GnT (tomato stalk)

    "This is a distilled drink, containing the ‘spent’ stalks from the tomato vines. I wanted to extract the nostalgic aroma of fresh vine tomatoes. It is such a powerful memory from my childhood and to convey that in a classic drink was a delight."

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    Breakfast with Hemingway (with burnt toast)

    "Another from the decay list and again, a distilled cocktail. Taking the fresh, citrus flavours from the grapefruit I wanted to marry them with the flavour of the toast (in a sort of marmalade on toast melange). The end result is just that - breakfast with Hemingway. Finished with a zest of grapefruit to add that zest aroma."

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    Daily Grind

    "This drink uses the spent grinds from the coffee machine, infused in aperitivo wine. The stone fruit liqueur is made by using the ground stones from peaches and apricots, giving the liqueur a dry finish."

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    Woodland Negroni

    "This drink is based on the classic Negroni. Gin, Vermouth and Campari are batched and placed in a coffee tower. The mix is then slow dripped over layers of nature including moss, two types of bark and fallen leaves, formica rufa infusion - another word for the wood ants distilled with the gin. The result, once filtered is that of walking through a damp wood. Perfect for our British summer."

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    Strawberries and Cream

    "In January of this year, I launched the ‘Anti Resolution vs. As Good As It Gets’ menu; a list of opposing drinks. The latter of which were non-alcoholic, with all the flavour of their alcoholic cousins. One of these cocktails used a Pimm’s cordial. A non-alcoholic redistilled cordial tasting of Pimm’s. The left over neutral spirt (also tasting of Pimm’s), was kept as I felt it had a further use. This is then stirred in this martini riff with distilled cream and vodka with a strawberry leaf infused dry vermouth."

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    Hopped Scotch

    "There are so many, great and usable ingredients that although we may not naturally think of consuming them does not make them any less usable… Hay is one of those great items. Used to smoke food, cooked in a stuffed bird or simply as an infusion. Sweet and aromatic with honey and vanilla, and with a soft floral note. This is cleaned first, then cooked sous-vide style with whisky before being filtered."

    See the rest of the menu here