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MAKING SUSTAINABLE COCKTAILS WITH ZERO WASTE

Author: Sam Orrock, Bar owner and drinks consultant.

As we face more extreme environmental changes affecting food supplies essential for the bar industry, sustainability should be a key focus for all bar professionals. Bar owner and drinks consultant, Sam Orrock, shares five simple changes you can make to create more sustainable cocktails, and three delicious recipes to get you started.


Bar owner, Sam Orrock, mixing a cocktail.

Becoming a more sustainable bar is easy with a few tips and tricks!

Focusing on sustainable cocktails not only helps support the environment but it can benefit your bar's bottom line. Reusing waste ingredients saves money and improves profitability. Bars making those steps towards becoming more environmentally-friendly are also favoured by the growing number of eco-conscious customers – it’s a win-win! Here are my top tips to make that happen in your workplace:


1. TIPS FOR REUSING FRUIT RINDS

Two watermelon cocktails on a white outdoor table with a leafy background.

Use every cocktail ingredient to its full potential to reduce waste and close that loop. Squeezing juice from a citrus fruit is one popular way to add acidity to a serve, but peel the rind and you can use it to make zesty syrups, garnishes, Oleo Saccharum or homemade limoncello.

Orange, lemon and lime rinds are particularly easy to reuse and turn into attractive garnishes – so next time you think about throwing the used fruit in the bin, save it for garnishing your next cocktail.

As for creating syrups, watermelonrind isn’t pleasant to eat but it’s incredibly flavourful in a watermelon syrup. If you’ve got lots of leftover celery from those Bloody Mary cocktails; save them – make celery juice and salt.


2. USE LOCAL, SEASONAL INGREDIENTS

When I worked at Matt Whiley's (owner of RE – awarded Sustainable Bar of the Year by World's 50 Best Bars 2021) Scout Bar, it opened my eyes up to the importance of sustainability in the industry. The ethos of Scout was to use seasonal, local produce – something that was alien to me at the time.

If produce isn’t in season, it has to be transported to you. This has a big impact on the environment.

Before you buy produce, ask ‘How far did this travel?’. The further the ingredient has to travel, the less eco-friendly it is. Support local businesses, minimize your carbon footprint and switch up your menu to feature seasonal serves.

Looking for sustainable cocktail recipe inspiration to get you started? Laura from Alquimico Bar, voted number 10 in the World’s 50 Best Bars, shows us how to make an Uramba cocktail using all ingredients from their local farm in Colombia:

UMRAMBA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 30ml Ron Zapaca 23-Year-Old-Rum
  • 7ml Viche
  • 45ml Tangerine & Coca Leaf Cordial
  • 15ml Tangerine Lime Juice
  • Sparkling wine to top

Alcohol content: 16.5g per serve


3. make batched cocktails

As bars are facing increased energy costs and there's a global shift towards water conservation, ice is a hot topic. But, how do you make this essential ingredient that requires both water and energy more wallet and planet-friendly? Find alternative ways to chill your drinks that don't require ice!

Cue pre-batching. Batched cocktails are stored in the freezer or fridge so they're always ice cold. Batched cocktails also speed up service and ensure consistency.

Additionally, when using ice, consider different ways to conserve water. For example, save up your melted ice and use it to clean the bar and water plants.


4. REDUCE SINGLE USE PLASTIC

Are plastic straws really a problem? Yes.

On the surface, there’s nothing sinister about your average straw. Conventional straws, however, are single use plastic and more likely to end up in the ocean; increasing marine pollution. This is concerning for health, environmental, and economic reasons.

So, let's reduce single use plastic in bars where we can! From stirrers and straws to cling film, make time to find eco-friendly alternatives made from metal or recyclable materials. Get creative and introduce edible straws or papaya leaf stem straws. This small tip helps lessen environmental impacts and gives your cocktails a real edge that customers will love.


5. DEHYDRATE YOUR FRUIT

Dehydrated fruit makes great cocktail garnishes and increases the shelf life of your fresh fruit and vegetables. Reusing and preserving ingredients cuts down on food waste and has an impact on your costs, saving you money in the long run.

One tip is to be cautious of using non-energy efficient equipment to dehydrate your fruit. This can hike up your energy bills, which we’re all more aware of right now.


SUSTAINABLE AND ZERO WASTE COCKTAIL IDEAS

Now you’ve got five new waste-busting tricks up your sleeve, it’s time to create sustainable cocktails using local and seasonal ingredients!

BURNT LIME COZMO

Alcohol content: 18.76g per serve


SOUR DOUGH ESPRESSO MARTINI

Alcohol content: 17.18g per serve

KEY TAKEAWAYS