Making Stand Out Cocktails With Local Ingredients
Learn how to source and use local produce for your menu items and the benefits of doing so.
Authors: Dre Masso, Experienced Mixologist and Bar Owner
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Changing how and where you source ingredients for your serves can revolutionise your bar. Going local and using ingredients grown on your doorstep is becoming a trend that more bars are following, and those that do are now reaping the rewards.
No matter where you are, there will always be plenty of amazing, native ingredients to spotlight on your menu, and doing so can bring benefits like increased sustainability, enhanced customer intrigue, and the development of creative drinks.
Bar industry legend Dre Masso has opened bars all over the world, making sure to sample and highlight the local produce of each area.
Follow his top tips and insight to ensure you get the most out of your area's local ingredients, no matter where you are.
How To Source Locally
Sourcing locally is a challenging feat and takes effort and planning. Here are some tips from Dre Masso to better source local ingredients, no matter where you're based.
- Work with your staff to encourage them to source local produce where possible. Your entire team needs to be committed to this for it to work.
- Ask local, quality chefs where they get their stock to help you find the best local producers. You should also see where your competitors get their ingredients so that you can find better alternatives to stand out.
- Visit local farms and other produce businesses to sample the ingredients before using them for your drinks.
- Build and nurture relationships with local producers. A tight bond will benefit you in the long run.
- See if you can encourage local producers to grow produce only for your venue. This gives your drinks an air of exclusivity, which can increase income.
If you're opening a new venue and deciding on a location, make sure to plan and find areas with many locally sourced options. If using local produce will be a massive shift for your bar, you can start small and change a small part of your menu to focus on local produce first before expanding.
Don't just limit your local sourcing to the ingredients you use. You can also focus on local businesses to supply your glassware, cutlery, artwork, uniforms, and decorations. Turn your bar into a celebration of your local area to add unmatched authenticity.
You can also grow your own ingredients to add a homemade element to your serves. Try starting a herb garden to grow your mint, basil and other ingredients. Some bartenders have gone one step beyond and nurtured their own beehives to produce honey for their syrups.
Benefits of Using Locally Sourced Ingredients
Once you build up a reputation as a bar committed to sourcing local ingredients, you'll experience many benefits – here are just some:
- Championing local ingredients can help you stand out and is a great unique selling point for your bar, which can attract more customers.
- Locally sourced ingredients are better for the environment and show you're committed to sustainable business. It's also cheaper to order from nearby.
- Being limited to local ingredients can force you to become more experimental, helping you develop creative drinks.
- Using local ingredients helps farmers and growers thrive. This builds stronger connections in your community.
- Using local ingredients can be difficult, but it has many great benefits.
- Research your local area and see where competitors and chefs are getting their local produce to help guide your search.
- Using local produce can help you stand out among the crowd and is also more sustainable.
- Highlighting key growers in your area helps the local community thrive.