Have you ever considered the carbon footprint of your favourite cocktail? Between its exotic ingredients and region-specific spirits, needless to say it’s probably racked up more air miles than you have this year. But not to worry – we’ve championed five environmentally-savvy bars that encourage their customers to sip and savour without destroying the planet…
We hate to break it to you, but your average bar is far from eco-friendly. Between the throwaway lime wedge in your G&T to the bucketfuls of water it takes to craft each drink (from the excess ice that dilutes the liquid or the dishwasher that cleans the glass), few of us consider just how wasteful the average night out can be.
However, an increasing number of bars are taking steps to lessen their impact on the environment, and making some incredibly creative and unique drinks while they’re at it. Thanks to a few daring industry trailblazers, conscious imbibing is now more than just a trend – it’s a movement.
So, what else makes a bar ‘sustainable’? The Sustainable Restaurant Association, an independent collective that champions sustainability in the food service industry, suggests that environmentally-conscious venues ought to consider the following steps…
- Talk to suppliers to reduce or eliminate single-use packaging
- Switch to reusable coasters and reconsider napkins
- Water is a valuable commodity so use every last drop of ice
- Review which drinks need straws, reduce and consider non-plastic alternatives like metal, bamboo, pasta and paper
- Look into using seasonal non-citrus fruits and when using citrus, think sharp and use the whole fruit, juice peel and all
- Promote local: discover spirits and mixers produced by smaller producers nearby
Sounds like a pretty good place to start. Here are five eco-friendly hangouts to encourage you to drink more sustainably. We could all do with taking a (nature-friendly) leaf out of their book…
Where? Storgata 27, 0184 Oslo, Norway
Why? The energy and resources used to ship spirits across the globe is surely one of the most prominent issues faced by the drinks industry. Oslo hangout Himkok houses a micro-distillery powered by hydro-energy which produces around 80% of their spirits requirements, with a focus on aquavit, gin and vodka. This means zero air miles and very little waste from glass bottles because they are constantly re-used. When it comes to sourcing ingredients, the team gives ‘ugly’ produce – misshapen carrots and unconventional strawberries – a second chance at life, and make their own in-house soft drinks and mixers. Himkok is also big on the ‘sustainability of people’, offering pensions and paid holiday as well as capping shift length at eight hours.
Akademi Bar, Bali
Where? Jl. Petitenget No.51B, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Why? With venues across Bali, Hong Kong, Singapore and Jakarta, lifestyle and hospitality brand Potato Head’s ‘good times, do good’ ethos echoes throughout its bars, restaurants and pop-ups (most recently, the team fashioned an entire bar out of discarded coconuts). The Akademi Bar menu celebrates tropical flavours native to Bali, featuring seasonal ingredients from local farmers and producers according to a ‘root-to-flower’ philosophy that extends to the design – plastic has been ditched in favour of locally-sourced degradable or reusable materials such as bamboo, metal, glass and paper. Akademi doubles as a bartender school and research lab for Indonesia’s native botanical ingredients, and hosts monthly workshops focusing on the region’s indigenous materials.
Operation Dagger, Singapore
Where? 7 Ann Siang Hill, #B1-01, Singapore 069791
Why? Ethical practice is the name of the game at avant-garde cocktail spot Operation Dagger in Singapore. The bar, which opened in 2013, has never used plastic straws; boozes are re-distilled, stored in recycled brown apothecary bottles and marked with handcrafted labels made from recycled receipts. The team are conscious of food miles and packaging too, cutting down their use of citrus – lemons, limes and so on aren’t native to the region and instead have to be imported from California and Australia – and subbing in vinegars and shrubs instead, which are often made from leftover, unused wines. Modern culinary methods and traditional fermentation techniques inform the recipes to make seriously striking drinks occasionally garnished with oddities from the bar’s in-house herb garden.
Charlie Parker’s, Sydney
Where? Basement/380 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021, Australia
Why? Closed-loop cocktails are the central focus at Charlie Parker’s, which breaks its menu down according to plant anatomy – from the delicate flavours of the flower to the earthier, vegetal root. The skins, seeds and leftover flesh from whatever available produce happens to be season is preserved, fermented, infused and sometimes even re-distilled to create a unique selection of shrubs, bitters, tinctures and garnishes. Soda is made in-house using recycled citrus, even the straws break down after two weeks’ composting. And this sustainable ethos extends beyond ingredients to the space-saving design of the physical bar as well as the staff recruitment process. There are no hosts, no pot wash, no waiting staff; everyone who works there is a bartender first and foremost to ensure a seamless experience from the first sip to the last. Economical bartending at its finest.
Where? 224 Graham Rd, London E8 1BP, UK
Why? East London’s Scout with its daily-changing menu is about as close to zero-waste as you can possibly get. Every ingredient in the bar is either sourced from British producers, farmers and growers, foraged locally – bay leaf and wood sorrel from Hackney, for example – or grown on-site; each part of the plant finds a function, whether through drying, brewing, distilling or more advanced cocktail alchemy. Perishables are fermented and pickled when they’re at their prime to make bespoke wines that last year-round. The place even makes its own yeast. Scout’s second outpost in Sydney is equally brilliant, crafting drinks with quandong, sandalwood and even locally-sourced ants.