Nothing takes the air out of happy hour like a bunch of lofty sustainability talk fogging up your Gin & Tonic, especially when the plastic straw you’re chewing on has a good chance of becoming fish food. But the bar world is finally waking up to its impact on the environment.
Bartenders are rethinking the carbon footprint associated with drink slinging and doing everything from tossing plastic straws to using previously discarded ingredients in their creations, such as lime peels and cherry pits. These are five zero-waste cocktails you should try now.
This cocktail by Aaron Ranf of Santa Monica’s Rustic Canyon is a take on the Kir Royale and consists of gin, rose-geranium-infused beet juice, lemon juice and prosecco. The idea came about when James Beard Award–nominated chef Jeremy Fox found himself with a surplus beet juice that he didn’t need. “One of the best things about working with Jeremy is his ability to use ingredients that many would consider to be scraps or waste,” says Ranf. Fox infused the beet juice with rose geranium and asked Ranf if he wanted to use it in a cocktail. Lucky for us, he said yes.
Instead of stocking bottles of amaretto liqueur, Jeremy Allen of MiniBar in Los Angeles makes his own using discarded the tiny bitter kernels encased in discarded cherry pits. He gets the pits from the cherry juicing process when he makes maraschino cherries for cocktails and when he cures cherries to be used as garnishes. That would be an awful lot of waste. He spends all of cherry season making large batches of amaretto to be used in cocktails like the Godfather 101, a take on the classic Godfather cocktail.
This drink by Kim Stodel of Providence in Los Angeles is a hybrid of a Margarita and a Paloma, made with tequila, dry curaçao, guava, lime juice and grapefruit juice. Stodel makes her own house-made guava syrup—a process that results in a lot of guava pulp. Throw it away? Nope. Instead, Stodel repurposes it to make the fruit leather garnish that adds the finishing touch to the cocktail.
Schuyler Hunton of Tiger Mama in Boston was tired of watching the compost pile stack up night after night, so she decided to do something about it. This gin-based cocktail is made from lime peels, coconut water (from coconuts the bar typically uses to make Tiki cups) and the oft-discarded syrup from the Luxardo cherry jar, for a tall drink that’s bright, refreshing and easy on your conscience.