Kitchen Meets Bar
Top tips on how to incorporate kitchen ingredients into your drinks menu.
Top tips for using vegetables in cocktails
Seasonality, locality, and freshness
- Vegetables will taste their best at the peak of the growing season and with the minimum amount of time between being harvested and consumed. For that reason, seasonality, locality, and freshness are key. Make sure you’re using produce that’s grown locally and ensure it’s only on the menu during its peak growing season, so you’ll have an abundant supply. This has the added benefit of minimizing transport and refrigeration, which keeps costs down and also benefits the environment, so it’s a win/win situation.
The first taste is with the eye
- When processing some elements of your vegetables to use as ingredients in your cocktails and other elements to use as garnishes, ensure that the most beautiful examples are saved for garnishing. Whilst both beautiful ingredients and ugly ingredients from the same crop will taste great, one will look better than the other when used as a garnish. When receiving your vegetable order, sort through your crop and separate the best-looking examples to save for your garnishing.
Work closely with your kitchen team
- One of the benefits of using vegetables in your cocktails is that by working closely with your kitchen team, you can maximize your combined output and minimize waste. Communication is key, find out what vegetables are being used in the kitchen and which elements of those vegetables are being discarded. Through good communication and careful planning, the kitchen and bar can utilize waste elements of each other’s outputs to ensure maximum combined efficiency and minimal waste.
Imperfect fruit & vegetables
- If you are processing a vegetable, such as pureeing, you don’t always need to use the best looking produce. Talk to your farmer or supplier, as they may have a second grade or overripe produce which is great for cooking & preserving. Try looking for market rejected, imperfect fruit & vegetables, which the kitchen & bar can use for products such as jams, chutneys, purees, and fermenting. This will also help to reduce a farmer's or market’s waste and get you a better price for doing so.
Experiment with different vegetables and different processing techniques
- Different processing techniques will enable you to get a wide variety of different flavors from a single vegetable. For example, juicing and fermenting a vegetable like a beetroot will give a vastly different taste to repeatedly roasting it to concentrate its natural sugars. Experiment with different processing techniques to extract the flavor you’re looking for in your perfect vegetable cocktail.
- The challenge of using locally sourced, seasonal produce is that it won’t be available year-round, but by experimenting with different preservation techniques you can find the flavor that works for you and ensure it's consistently available, even when your supply of fresh vegetables runs dry.