"Matt is a living legend. He's changed everything I knew about drinks," restaurateur Maurice Terzini waxes.
Matt is Englishman Matt Whiley, the barman who so impressed Terzini he brought him to Sydney to open a local branch of Scout, which serves its first cocktail on Thursday, February 28.
The London bar – which the Evening Standard describes as not so much a bar as a science lab – has equal measures of technical nous, provenance and sustainability, with Whiley (a recently crowned European barman of the year) mixing them together with his swizzle stick.
Whiley says they have used cues from the original Scout in the design but given Scout Sydney its own identity.
There are the wall finishes, newly darkened timber floors and green-velvet-covered furniture that reflects the treetop views the bar has from the upper reaches of The Dolphin Hotel.
The drinks menu is no cookie cutter – the house drinks list is littered with caramelised banana wine and smoked apple.
"I've loved working with new ingredients, but I don't want to go crazy with native ingredients just because I'm in Australia, I want to understand them," Whiley says.
He might be treading carefully, but Whiley is already using ants from Queensland.
"They arrive in nests. We freeze them, then blend them and infuse them. It's our version of vodka soda, which is such a big drink here in Sydney," he says.
Even Sydneysiders don't live on drinks alone – Scout is in possession of an encouraging food menu, which includes chicken "Waldorf" sandwiches and blistered padron peppers with kombu and lime.
Terzini explains that the game-changing cocktail for him is a Whiley creation with quandong and sandalwood.
But you need to be quick with Whiley. "I don't like to revisit a drink, they need to evolve," he says.
Open Wed-Sat 5pm-midnight; Sun 5-10pm.
Level 3, Dolphin Hotel, 412 Crown Street, Surry Hills.