Historically speaking, cocktails have never been great for the environment. From shipping fresh produce around the globe to power hungry ice creation, there’s a whole host of associated issues silently hiding in the depths of that (undeniable delicious) Daiquiri. But with cocktails here to stay, how can we, as home enthusiasts or professional bartenders, make them less of a burden on mother nature? And can we even make them tastier in the process?
Let’s start with spirit choice. There’s a whole host of more positive distillation methods available to distilleries, so choosing brands that focus on green production is a good first step, and there’s examples of these producers in all shapes and sizes. The enormous global vodka powerhouse Absolut, for example, promote sustainable farming practices for their 400 plus farmers, and through tree planting they offset their emissions to run a carbon neutral distillation process.
Then there’s smaller brands like Avallen making big planet positive moves with their Calvados. The liquid in each bottle of Avallen removes 2.73kg of CO2 from the atmosphere when their apple trees grow their branches and roots. On top of this, they’re restoring the wild meadows at their Normandy distillery to promote biodiversity and bee populations in the area.
Handily, our Botanical Spirit, Avallen, and Absolut all work perfectly mixed with tonic water and a couple of dashes of aromatic bitters, a very easy start to your sustainable cocktail career!
ECO SPIRIT AND TONIC
But it’s not just the base spirit that needs consideration. All the other ingredients can be made more environmentally friendly with a little care and attention. Here’s a great example from Iceland’s Reyka distillery:
THE PUFFIN COLLINS
- 50ml Reyka vodka
- 20ml foraged elderflower cordial
- 30ml pink grapefruit juice
- 1 muddled cherry tomato
Reyka is powered by geothermal energy like the rest of Iceland, and neighbours “The Friðheimar” also use this energy to grow tomatoes in what would otherwise be rather inhospitable conditions. This particular drink also uses wild foraged Elderflower, making the most of the natural flora near some of the team based in the UK. Foraging for, or growing your own ingredients, is a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint whilst still enjoying delicious drinks.
But instead of going out searching, what about ingredients you might already have going to waste around the house? The average UK household buys just under 40kg of fresh fruit per person each year, and then throws away 14kg of that, half of which is because it’s no longer considered “fresh”. This fruit is fantastic for making long lasting preserves with, in particular “shrubs”. This classic cordial style drink makes the most out of excess fruit and gives you a tasty secret ingredient to work into your cocktails.
Roughly chop your fruit, then add equal parts by weight of sugar to draw out the juices, and then vinegar (cider, coconut and wine vinegars work well), before filtering into clean bottles ready to store and use. There’s a simple recipe you can follow here. Once prepared, try adding a large dash to soda water for a refreshing non-alcoholic summer beverage. But if you’d like something a little stronger…
- 50ml Nc’nean organic single malt
- 20ml pear shrub
- 100ml soda water
Finally, here’s an incredible suggestion from waste-product recycler extraordinaires, Discarded. They make a whole range of sustainable spirits using by-products like banana peel and cascara and encourage everyone else to do the same whenever possible. The below recipe makes use of spent coffee grounds, getting the absolute maximum out of the beans before they’re composted.
DISCARDED ESPRESSO MARTINI
- 30ml Discarded Chardonnay Vodka
- 20ml Espresso
- 20ml Spent Coffee Liqueur
- 20ml Discarded Cascara Vermouth
You can find a simple video on how to make both the spent coffee liqueur and drink here, along with a few other creative recycling ideas.