BENGALURU: Sustainable cocktails seem to be the future for restaurants. Although not absolutely new to bartenders, the trend has been embraced more during the pandemic. If you’re wondering what these are, sustainable cocktails are beverages made by repurposing the waste of perishables through garnishes, puree, infusions and so on. Reuse, recycle, or upcycle is the mantra for ingredients that otherwise would be thrown away.
The ingredients used include leftover citrus juices, citrus rinds, seeds, pits, skins of fruits, pulps, stems and roots. There are many ways to make a cocktail using these. The best method to get all that you can from an ingredient is by simply infusing them into syrups or spirits to give you complex flavours that can be used for exquisite cocktails. The pulp of a pineapple can be juiced, the peel of the pineapple used to make syrup and the leaf of the pineapple can be used as a garnish, when it comes to making a pina colada. The drink could also be served in the shell of the pineapple.
Some like to whip up aquafaba, the white watery liquid found in cans of chickpeas, which is usually discarded, to replace egg whites. Another simple example is making coffee syrup and liqueur for the bar from grinds of coffee used for making cold brews. Oxidised wine can be made into a reduction for drinks or vinegar, or can be used in the kitchen for sauces and marinades. White wine syrups go best with gin cocktails and red wine syrups with rum cocktails.
Peeling the leftover zest from fruits used to juice and create Oleo Saccharum is a good way to give the drink a healthy taste as well as to reduce wastage of the citrus used.Non-biodegradable plastic straws and stirrers can now be replaced with sustainable products too, such as stripy waxed paper straws, papaya leaf steam straws or even raw pasta tubes.
Garnishes such as dehydrated fruit not only increase the shelf life of perishable fruits but also reduce food wastage from restaurants. Remember to use energy efficient equipment to dehydrate. Unfortunately, quirky garnishes are often thrown away and not consumed. This adds to a lot of wastage and cost to the establishment, besides it being irresponsible for the environment. Zero-garnish drinks come into the picture here, where ingredients like citrus peels and flowers are not used anymore.
Supporting local businesses and featuring seasonal produces not only reduces cost to the business, it also minimises carbon footprint. The art of sustainability is finding a balance between exciting flavours, delicious recipes, and waste reduction to create the perfect cocktail.
The author is resident mixologist and beverage manager, URU Brewpark