HOW TO CREATE INNOVATIVE SUSTAINABLE COCKTAILS
Seeing bars all over the world adopt sustainable and waste free practices? Read on as Andy Ferreira, experienced Mixologist and Manager of Cask Cork gives an insider look into creating innovative sustainable cocktails using the best local ingredients around.
WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR SUSTAINABILITY COME FROM?
Prior to opening my bar, Cask in 2017, I’d spent five years working in a bartender academy for a well-known Irish brand. Some of the best bartenders from all over the the world were brought to Cork and immersed in Irish hospitality. We’d spend a day in Ballymaloe house, exploring their vast walled garden and learning about native ingredients that are used to create incredible cocktails.
Taking these learnings around local ingredients, I opened my bar Cask. In Cask, seasonality and sustainability go hand in hand, you use what’s available at the time with minimum waste produced.
LOCALLY GROWN OR GO HOME: CASK’S MANTRA
We made a simple rule and we’ve stuck to it for seventeen menus: all the ingredients outside of the base spirits and modifiers, must be grown and produced in Ireland. If we can, we’ll always opt for Irish spirits and modifiers too. We don’t use citrus or tropical fruits; anything that needs to be flown into Ireland is simply off the cards – sorry not sorry! This is a great way to keep air miles down and reduce our carbon footprint but it’s more about developing and fostering a strong relationship with our native ingredients and producers. Pretty quickly we were known for producing the most creative and innovative drinks menus in the country.
DOING YOUR BIT FOR A GLOBAL ISSUE
Sustainability is a huge global topic with virtually every business including it in their manifesto. Distilleries are investing vast sums to introduce more sustainable practices in their production and at the other end, bars and bartenders are becoming more conscientious in how they run their venues and what sustainability means for their bar. We don’t claim to be a zero-waste bar but since we opened in 2017, we’ve introduced methods of working that sit well with us and ensure we are making a small contribution to a much wider global issue.
HOW TO CREATE a SUSTAINABLE COCKTAIL
With consumers becoming more aware of the environment, if you're not getting involved with sustainable bartending and zero waste cocktails, you're going to end up stuck in the past.
Sustainable cocktails are cocktails that are more in harmony with nature. It's about minimising natural resources and conserving energy.
Here is a simple process to follow that will help you create sustainable cocktails:
- Make a list of the local ingredients that are available at that time of year
- Go for a monster forage and connect with one or two of the foragers we work with
- Collect as many sample ingredients as possible
- Play around with the ingredients and get your creative juices flowing.
TOP TIP: Developing a cocktail is like creating a jigsaw puzzle of flavours, balance, and originality. We just keep as many elements as possible local.
NOBODY’S PERFECT: REDUCE AS MUCH WASTE AS YOU CAN
Through our mantra of only using Irish ingredients and supporting Irish producers we reduced our bar’s carbon footprint dramatically. Realistically though you’re still going to produce an element of waste, but we make a genuine effort to keep this to a minimum.
It’s also really essential to compost and give back to the land, so ensuring you recycle all food waste is a great way to do this. When you pick a berry or forage a wild herb you have a window of time to extract that flavour. Not every bar has rotovap to distil these flavours – we certainly don’t - so get creative and start making syrups, shrubs, sherbets, ferments, or dehydrating ingredients. These are all beneficial methods that can reduce waste dramatically as you can use up all of the product.
Making jams and preserves is a really simple and under-utilised way to capture flavour and stabilise an ingredient.
SHOUTOUT: We work with an amazing jam producer called Mary O’Connell who almost seems to turbo charge her fruits beforehand. Her Damson jam in particular is one of our favourites. Look into your local suppliers and find your favourite! Here is one of the cocktails we have made using Mary’s fabulous jam.
SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT & YOUR MONEY SIMULTANEOUSLY
A lot of bars are overly reliant on citrus on their cocktail menus. By swapping it out in just a few drinks you can really lower the amount you buy and learn how to do more with less. Instead, try using verjus, vinegar, acids or just a native ingredient as an alternative. There’s a plethora of local ingredients available that can give your drink acidity without flying them hundreds of miles, just have a look online and talk to people around you!
- Try and get local brands on your house cocktail menu - they’ll do volume, and it could be a game changer for them.
- Seek acidic alternatives to citrus, for example, Citric and Malic is a good place to start and use these to tweak local flavours
- Plant some herbs, lots of them. Ideally not herbs you can source from your fruit and veg suppliers. Verbena is great one!
- Citrus tincture in an aromatiser is a winner and saves you using a zest every time you’re making a classic cocktail that requires one.
- Try and source the unwanted fruits that don’t make it into the supermarkets. Ugly Strawberries always make an appearance on our summer menu!
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