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“Sustainability” is more than a buzzword on everybody’s lips. It’s the very flavour demanded by today’s cocktail enthusiasts. Even before they take their first sip.

In bars and cocktails lounges around the world, bartenders are rethinking their entire approach.

Sustainability in the bar is about a “way of thinking” about the world. And how we source and dispose of everything we buy and consume. A viewpoint that a bartender’s customers are increasingly on-point with and actively embrace.

Let’s look at the ways to start practising sustainability in the bar.

Sustainability is at the heart of Alchemy Bar courses. Find the right Alchemy Bar course for you.

What is a sustainable cocktail?

Firstly, let’s identify what are generally considered key elements for making a sustainable cocktail.

  • Less use of natural resources
  • Conserves energy
  • Minimises pollution
  • Focuses on reused, recycled or upcycled ingredients

Most bartenders committed to sustainability

It’s definitely true to say that bartenders and mixologists are concerned to source the very freshest ingredients they can to make premium-quality flavour drinks.

The best would be keen to learn how to practise sustainability from early on in their professional career.

Today, more than half of bartenders, when asked, insist their passion is, more than ever, to:

  • Use local ingredients. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60%
  • Work with more local partners and businesses… .52%
  • Have zero-waste cocktails. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51%

Practising sustainability in the bar also finds bartenders focusing upon:

  • Eliminating single-use plastics. . . . . 49%
  • Removing other packaging waste. . . 36%

(Source: Martini Bar Cocktail Trends Report, 2021)

The need for bartenders to look into every aspect of their craft not only translates to serving their customers in a sustainable way. Research shows it’s also healthy for business too.

  • Nearly one in three (30%) customers are willing to pay up to 10 per cent above the listed purchase price for brands that support sustainability causes or social justice.

(Source: Bacardi Consumer Survey 2021)

Creating sustainability in the bar – key things bartenders can do

  • Replace plastic straws and paper napkins

Small things, for sure! But plastics is, of course, a big global issue. Because plastics are derived from fossil fuels. So replacing plastic straws is an important way to start thinking about sustainability.

Instead of plastic straws, start using straws made from any of the following sustainable materials:

  • Bamboo – 100% biodegradable, and perfect with Tiki.
  • Papaya leaves – ideal for tropical cocktails and juices.
  • Wheat plant – great with all types of retro drinks.
  • Glass – always a cool and clean option.
  • Stainless Steel – perfect for longer drink such as highball.

You can even try bio-degradable “edible straws”, which may also come in a selection of drink-compatible flavours.

  • Cocktail/beverage napkins made from paper – replace with ‘linen-style’ napkins, which are actually stronger. These are made from air-laid (non-woven), natural wood fibres.

Recycle citrus fruit items

The average bar and restaurant generate thousands of tons of waste each year. Most of which come from citrus ingredients.

Bartenders are busy experimenting with upcycling citrus peels, rinds, skins and seeds. You too can find other ways

to create sour flavours without actually using lemons and limes.

Instead, in a bid to be more sustainable and decrease waste, follow how pro-bartenders are balancing drinks by using citric acid, malic acid and lactic acid.

A cooler way of using ice

You always need ice ready on the bar, of course. Most drinks, including cocktails, are only complete when chilled. The traditional way is for bartenders to shake the drink with large ice cubes and then strain over new ice. Then the barely used cubes are simply discarded. One alternative gaining popularity is reusable ice cubes, such as:

  • Stone Ice Cubes – made from marble or soapstone in various colours, and often used to chill whiskey and bourbon. Stone ice cubes do not absorb water, and will not make drinks totally ice-cold. You simply put it in the freezer for a minimum of three hours. Then add to drinks already chilled so they remain cold.
  • Stainless-Steel Cubes – highly effective for cooling down a drink. Of all reusable ice cube materials, they reach the freezing point the quickest and keep drinks colder for longer after only two hours in the freezer. Everywhere bartenders are looking at how they can improve the sustainability of their bars. Increasingly, today’s cocktail lovers expect to see love shown to the environment too! To truly enjoy their cocktail experience they need to know it will also be a sustainable one.
Sustainability is essential to the Alchemy Bar ethos Find out how we can make sustainability part of yours too.