The Future of Sustainability And What It Means For Your Bar
Sustainability is being discussed more and more in the bar industry, but what does it mean and what can you do about it? Global Cocktailian, Lauren Mote, looks at the current and future trends of sustainability and discusses ways you can play your part in your venue.
What is sustainability?
You may have heard the word "sustainability" thrown about but trust me—you are going to hear a lot more about it in 2018. This isn’t just a trend in our industry, it’s a mindset and a movement that we all need to be a part of. Sustainability is more important now than ever before, whether it’s making responsible choices when sourcing ingredients or taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint. Now is the time to make positive changes that will benefit the future of our venues and our planet.
A recent consumer poll revealed that nearly one in two customers would be willing to pay 10% more for goods produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way. So as our customers demand a more sustainable, responsible serve, it makes sense for us to create a more environmentally conscious ways of working.
Aside from the obvious benefit of helping the environment, customers are becoming more conscious about this topic and by making some changes you can really help your reputation and attract new people to your venue. The other benefit of being more sustainable is the bottom-line financials. You cannot argue with saving money! Often simple changes, such as unplugging ice machines and energy-sucking appliances from the walls at night, can make a huge difference. The key is to instill a more mindful approach to each action, each drink and each interaction we have with our customers.
Current and future industry trends in sustainability
Ever since the first bar in the world with no perishables was launched in 2013, the industry has started to look toward a more sustainable future. The bartending industry, has often been accused of playing catch-up with the food industry but I foresee 2018 being the year that will see us leading the way.
Current trends in sustainability
At the moment the industry is seeing the next step in sustainability—with more bartenders and bar owners not just making small changes but rather designing/redesigning bar programs with sustainability at their core. It’s not just about the macro environment, but the micro one, too.
Some trends we are seeing:
- Bottled punches and large-format drinks to engage large groups.
- Root-to-tip cocktails, using an entire plant in the same way that chefs view using an entire animal from nose to tail.
- Diverse alternatives to sugar, acid, artificial coloring and preservatives.
- Planning out cocktail menus 3–6 months in advance, reflecting the true seasonality of local ingredients, using a variety of preservation techniques.
- Water conservation, removal of plastic water bottles, moving to in-house or community water filtration where possible.
- Demand transparency in consumer goods - from spirits, to perishables, to services.
- Sustainable working conditions with proper meals, workday hours and competitive wages.
- Community purchase and storage of barwares, in order to reduce transportation costs and minimize packaging.
- Story and concept building through cocktail programs in order to convey the ethos of the bar/bartender’s beliefs.
- Many distillers are reducing the amount of fossil fuels they burn in their production process and turning to new energy sources, such as the leftover grain from distilling as well as renewable energy sources.
- Many distilleries have also made commitments to water reduction and packaging.
How to play your part
It’s difficult to imagine how you’ll clean up the oceans or stop deforestation, but the small bite-sized pieces we can do really contribute to the overall grid—use LED lights over metal-bottomed tea lights, buy fresh produce directly from local farmers markets reflecting the true seasonality of your region, create shelf-stable products with in season produce, eliminate daily menu reprints, unplug the ice machine at night and manage your food waste. The health of our local industry is truly important. When we glue them altogether.
As bartenders and bar owners we too can help energize our supply chain by sourcing our products from more sustainable companies and demanding this from our favorite brands. It’s incredibly important to ask your suppliers for transparency in how things are grown, processed and manufactured, and to hold them accountable to their ethos through yours.
As more and more of us see both the financial benefits as well as the environmental benefits, sustainability will become more commonplace in our industry and not just something that leading high-end venues are doing. The expectation for bars, restaurants, grocers, cafés and coffee shops is that sustainability is an overarching theme that helps dictate how you do business—there are many alternatives to the status quo.
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Diageo Reserve Global Cocktailian Lauren Mote is at the forefront of what’s shaping the future of the cocktail industry. So there is no better expert to take us through what’s hot for 2018.
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