Diogenes The Dog
96 Rodney Road, SE17 1BG
WLC Rank : 97
Glass from : £ 5 (125 ml)
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. He later provided a phone consultancy to wine lovers during the lockdown to advise them what to drink.
All wines, including a Bulgarian Pet-Nat, Texan Blanc du Bois, Chinese Marselan blend and zero-added sulphite ‘HARVEST 1’ Manzoni Bianco/Chardonnay from Puglia are available by-the-glass, bottle and to take away. One of Hodge’s favourites is Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Goutte D’Argent. “Winemaker, Pascal Marty spent three years in Japan, bringing back a specific Sake Yeast to create a wine fermented at crazy low temperatures.” Post the lockdown, Hodge launched HARVEST 1, a Luddite of a white from Morasinsi Winery, Puglia which is subject to a discount when guests bring their own bottle to take it home. Or you can sip it on-premises with a “boozy cheeseboard”, cured Belgian “Secreto 07” ribeye, or a “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 have included LGBT Friendly Socials and “soulful Barrel & Blues” nights.
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.”
By Douglas Blyde.