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This New Wine Bar in Elephant and Castle Wants to Question the Status Quo

Diogenes the Dog aims to apply healthy scepticism to wine as London knows it

Wine-lined interiors at Diogenes the Dog, a new wine bar for London in Elephant and Castle Daniel Ogulewicz

Diogenes the Dog — a new wine bar in Elephant and Castle, as originally reported by Big Hospitality earlier this month — will open on 4 November. It does so with an express purpose: to question what London’s wine drinkers understand the drink, and the bars that serve it, to be.

The exterior at Diogenes the Dog, a new wine bar for London in Elephant and Castle
The exterior, formerly a pub
Daniel Ogulewicz

What this means, in practice, is wines sourced directly from vineyards and makers; vineyards and makers as yet under-explored on the capital’s ever-burgeoning wine scene. This practice is not new in London; this positioning, though, is. Where Westerns Laundry, P. Franco, and The Laughing Heart lead a thrilling London reappraisal of Parisian cave culture and natural wines, and Winemakers’ Club, Sager and Wilde, and Noble Rot engage with classicism anew, Diogenes thrives on the esoteric and unknown — harnessing a healthy and productive disregard of what is already out there. In other words, unlike the London wine bars which currently use winemaking styles to differentiate themselves, this one will place greater importance on what happens before, focusing first on both the region and the grape variety.

Sharing boards of charcuterie by Cannon and Cannon at Diogenes the Dog, a new wine bar for London in Elephant and Castle
Sharing food, to pair with the wines
Daniel Ogulewicz

Diogenes the Dog is the brainchild of Sunny Hodge, a mechanical engineering graduate who spent time at the (now) struggling steak chain Gaucho before moving to Margot in Covent Garden, which he first helped to open, and then led to service awards from AA Hospitality and Tatler. He most recently assisted on the opening of newly Michelin-starred The Fordwich Arms in Kent, tying all three together with a confidently relaxed brand of hospitality. The name comes from Greek philosopher and cynic Diogenes: philosophically, the term “cynic” is less loaded than in common language, referring to an admission that not all things can — or should — be known, and should be questioned, rather than taken at face value.

Interiors at Diogenes the Dog, a new wine bar for London in Elephant and Castle
The shop and bar invites exploration
Daniel Ogulewicz
Wines at Diogenes the Dog, a new wine bar for London in Elephant and Castle
Two of the wines on offer at opening
Diogenes the Dog/Daniel Ogulewicz
Owner Sunny Hodge at Diogenes the Dog, a new wine bar for London in Elephant and Castle
Owner Sunny Hodge in his new bar
Daniel Ogulewicz

If it sounds like this bar could veer into intellectualism and pretension, Hodge hopes that Diogenes will instead treat the unexpected as the start of an engaging and accessible conversation. Sample wines currently include Hibernal 2017 from Winnica Turnau (Poland), Messina Hofs Blanc du Bois from Texas, and Ixe Tempranillo — a classically Spanish or Portuguese grape — from Tuscany, Italy. The list will be laid out in terms of body, texture and “tone”: A list, in other words, serving the quality of each wine, rather than pre-judged assumptions around place and terroir. Borough Market charcutiers Cannon and Cannon will provide sharing boards for grazing, with all wines available for retail.

About next weekend’s opening, Hodge said: “Diogenes the Dog is a truly unique and personal experience, a small opening in the world of wine allowing the undiscovered to be savoured, with thought and without pretension.”

Terroirs

5 William IV Street, , England WC2N 4DN 020 7036 0660 Visit Website

Noble Rot

51 Lamb’s Conduit St, London, Greater London WC1N 3NB +44 20 7242 8963 Visit Website

Diogenes The Dog

96 Rodney Road, , England SE17 1BG 020 7703 5570 Visit Website

Westerns Laundry

34 Drayton Park, , England N5 1PB 020 7700 3700 Visit Website

P Franco

107 Lower Clapton Road, , England E5 0NP Visit Website

Texture

34 Portman Street, London, W1H 7BY Visit Website

The Laughing Heart

277 Hackney Road, , England E2 8NA 020 7686 9535 Visit Website

Margot

69 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217 Visit Website