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What’s ‘sustainability’ in the bar?

Ketel One’s way to sustainability in the bar

Sustainability is a term we hear all around us, but what does it mean to have a sustainable cocktail? In the bar scene, sustainability has become an important movement about making conscious decisions to operate in a way that minimises our impact on the environment.

This is usually achieved through a thoughtful way of utilising ingredients. Since White Lyan opened in London in 2013, sustainability in bars has been increasing in popularity every day.

Programmes like ‘No straw’ and ‘Trash Tiki’ have seen bartenders and venues using their powers to educate the broader consumer base on how to reduce single-use plastics and cut down on the environmental impact of operating the bar.

What started as a way to reduce wastage, has now moved to a way bars can have a competitive edge in the market. By following a “closed loop” or “zero waste” mentality, venues can cut down on operational costs by either using more of the raw product or increasing the shelf life of a product.

Where there were only a few bars to begin with, it is now common practice to create ingredients with elements that would previously end up in the bin. Some good examples are citrus, pineapple and mint, where only small parts of the ingredients were used, and the rest discarded.

Unique flavours

Bartenders are now seeking ways to use these discards to create unique and complimentary flavours – thus resulting in cocktail creations that are unlikely to be replicated by the bar down the road!

Some brands have acknowledged their social responsibly when it comes to minimising waste and shown that is important for big players to lead the charge. A wonderful example of this is the Ketel One ‘Sustainable Bar Award’. Not only does it highlight the importance of running a sustainable venue on a global stage, it also rewards those venues going above and beyond to invest in today, so we can all benefit in the future.

Flowing on from supporting and rewarding venues at the highest level, Ketel One has turned its focus to educating consumers on how they too can embrace the sustainability movement. The latest concept, ‘Single Ingredient Cocktails’, challenges bartenders and home mixologists to use a raw ingredients in their entirety to create a drink.

Future benefits

A clear standout in this concept is the use of coffee. Typically, coffee grinds are disposed of – yet, when following the “single ingredient” mentality, those grinds can be used to make a coffee liqueur, coffee syrup and coffee dust garnish. Combine all these ingredients and you have yourself one super-charged Espresso Martini!

Another great way to minimise waste is to create fruit shrubs. A very old technique that combines sugar with a raw ingredient (most commonly fruit) and vinegar. The sugar absorbs all the flavoursome oils and juice from the fruit.

When diluted with vinegar it creates a bright, zingy liquid that can be used across any number of cocktails.

See that pineapple sitting on your bench that is a little too ripe to eat? Those nimbu shells you have squeezed the juice from? Both are perfect for creating shrubs! I have provided a few suggestions for you to try at out; but feel free to take creative license here – there are any number of flavours you can make.

To see the awareness that has grown in the industry in such a short time, it is exciting to think what new inventions there will be in coming years. As more and more of the world places an emphasis on the environmental impact of living, sustainability will continue to grow – and those venues that continue to innovate will keep pushing us forward.