From the trash to the glass: a waste-nothing approach to cocktails

January 11, 2017

By: Rafael Tonon

Bartenders are creating recipes using ingredients that are usually thrown away after a single use, letting you sip creative cocktails made literally from scraps

It’s not new that many chefs are concerned about using every scrap of their ingredients. Movements such as “from nose to tail” have already taken over the kitchens, spreading the ideia of using the entire animal in many different dishes. The last addition to these movements is fruits and vegetables, and now even bartenders are also trying to find a use for things they used to throw away – and considering some ways to upcycle them inside their shakers or glasses.

Fighting food waste seems to be the word of order in gastronomy scene – and now it also includes the bar in the back of the portrait.

Using the most of each ingredient, from stem to pit, is the new rule in bars, where creative professionals are employing the leftovers to create new recipes, such as the husks of lemons used to make falernum or even their zests that can be added to sherberts.

Something that London-based mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr. Lyan, is taking to a higher bar at his establishments, Whyte Lyan and Dandelyan (this one actually the #3 bar in the 50 Best Bars in the World list). He is a pioneer in the use of ingredients that most bars would traditionally throw away. Chetiyawardana believes that by-products can then be transformed into entirely new concoctions.

Ryan cocktails

London-based mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana, from Whyte Lyan and Dandelyan

“I’ve always tried to explore the weird and wonderful throught drinks and incorporate all kinds of flavors to them”, he writes in his book Good Things to Drink. “Studying Biology at university led me to understand cocktails on a more scientific level (I’ve been known to pull all sorts of high-spec equipment and unusual ingredientes into play)”, he confesses.

His Bone Dry Martini, for instance, is made with chicken bones, used to add a minerality and dryness to his housemade vodka. Coffee grounds and tea bags are also used to create oils and tannin tinctures. Chetiyawardana looks at the whole process, from dilution to PH, from vessels to the weight of each ingredient.

Even eggshells have an afterlife in his hands: he usually dissolves them in his preparations, in order to add some texture to his cocktails.

In Greystone, the restaurant in the campus of The Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, at Napa Valley region, the crew is using the leftovers of some fruits, such as pineaple and passionfruit, to create fruit wines, with a little help from local wine producers. This leftovers are processed and then fermented to concoct different fruit wines that are now being bottled to be served to the diners who visit the restaurant – and will also be sold in the near future.

“Napa is a region known for its wine production, so we intented to create some variations of the beverage using other fruits and we ended up surprised by the results”, chef instructor Almir da Fonseca says.

Mixologists Simone Caporale and Alex Kratena, former bartenders at the iconic Artesian, in London, have launched a non-profit summit, P(OUR), a collective created in the belief “that by sharing knowledge, exploring new ideas and exchanging inspiration, it is possible to reimagine the way the industry works and ultimately create a brighter and more sustainable future”, as stated in their manifesto. One of their goals is to eliminate the waste in bars around the world.

“Ten years ago people didn’t care what we were throwing in the bin. Now people are thinking about how to make their business more sustainable. And this is logical, as wastage affects business to a great length”, says Caporale.

He mentions as an example the traditional British restaurant Duck and Waffle, in London. The restaurant came up with a cocktail menu made exclusively with ingredients that would have been wasted in the kitchen. Tomato leaves were used to create a green infused vodka to prepare a Green Bloody Mary – even the stems escaped the trash bin and were used in a new recipe of Gin & Tonic.

Burnt toasts are not discarded either and find a new use in the glasses of the creative bartender and head of spirits Richard Woods: his Breakfast with Hemingway (a cocktail created in honor of the famous drinker-and-writer), is a marmalade-flavored rum tipple that was served with a side of burnt toast.

Hamingway cocktails

Breakfast with Hemingway: marmalade-flavored rum served with a side of burnt toast

Called ‘Urban Decay’, the menu launched in July of 2016 tried to highlight the by-products of everyday life. The cocktail Meadow Spritz has asparagus ends and cut grass cordial among its ingredients. Woods also tried discarded coffee grounds and avocado skin to shape his innovative cocktail list. As he says, just because society assumes these ingredients are waste doesn’t mean they can’t still be used and full of flavour. We all agree.

Rafael Tonon

+ posts by Rafael

Rafael Tonon is a journalist and food writer. He writes about food, drinks and trends in gastronomy. He contributes to many media outlets, such as Eater, Vice, Slate and more. He maintains the trend food blog What the Fork.

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