We all opt for locally sourced produce whenever we can and eschew plastic bags in favor of reusable totes or paper bags, but how can we apply our “it’s a green new world” principles to our cocktail shakers? It’s easier than you think. The first thing to do (and you may already be doing this) is to stop using plastic straws. Opt for re-useable metal or recyclable paper. Ditch the paper tiki umbrella’s as well as other “consumables.” That means swapping sturdy, reusable coasters for paper ones and using metal spoons in place of straws — even recyclable paper ones — for the mixologist to taste his/her drinks. Truly sustainable cocktails aren’t stirred or shaken, which reduces the use of ice. Another trend is to repurpose kitchen scraps and turn them into intriguing ingredients. There’s probably more overlap between your kitchen and bar than you realize when it comes to ingredients cooking and mixing. The benefit to all of this is that you’ll come up with some cool new libations when you start thinking outside the box (or martini glass) — which brings us to another item to delete from your home bar. Narrower glasses such as Collins or highballs maximize space on a dishwasher rack, cutting down on water usage. But back to the topic of ingredients: There’s no such thing as scraps. If mint leaves are used for mojitos, stems can be macerated for mint-infused alcohol. Peel citrus before juicing it and you can use the peel either as a garnish or to make limoncello, oleo saccharum or lemon sherbet. Or you could opt to avoid perishables altogether. Instead of citrus, herbs and garnishes you can use cordials, syrups and shrubs. Now take a sip and feel good about lowering your carbon footprint!
The first instance of sustainable cocktails can be traced to the classic Tiki drink, in which fruit shells were used to hold flaming garnishes. Yes, the use of extravagant garnishes enhances the presentation of a cocktail and makes a drink look more Instagrammable…but the days of massive citrus peel garnishes are over. Instead, more bars are garnishing with citrus peel the size of a coin instead of a long, thick strip. Similarly, smaller garnishes positioned on clear ice yield a pleasing aesthetic effect. Growing your own herbs at home is another easy and economical option whether you live in an apartment with a balcony or have a large garden. Not to mention the vibrant fresh flavor these herbs add. Grew too much? Save the extras with by dehydrating on low heat in the oven and storing for future use.