How to Mitigate Waste with Food Well Spent

Hello again! Owen and Freddie here to talk to you about something that’s very important to us, not only as business owners but also as people with a concern for the future of our industry. This week we’re talking about reducing waste, single-use plastics and making sustainable choices behind your bar. When done correctly, you’re not only lessening the negative environmental impact of your bar but also helping to preserve the razor-thin margins that cocktail bars run on. Thus, ideally adding to the customer experience at your establishment all in one fell swoop.

Here are a few ideas that we’ve found very useful behind the bars we’ve managed and at Liquor Lab.

Something that always strikes us as something that can easily be done is using “spent” fruit from behind the bar. If we’re juicing, cutting fresh zest, and changing out our berries or garnishes at the end of the night, we oftentimes don’t think about the fruit as being useful any longer. While it’s important to mitigate waste with proper par levels, these can be used to make cordials and infusions for the bar.

With spent lemons and limes, simply set them up to simmer in some water and make a citrus “stock”, and then sweeten to your liking for an easy syrup. We’ve done the same with lime or lemon wedges and wheels: simmering them in a simple syrup to impart a wonderful citrus flavor.

Freddie Sarkis, CCO (Chief Cocktail Officer).

For leftover berries: we’ve macerated them into white sugar and allowed them to rest overnight. This creates a wonderful flavor we can use to make syrups or punches. Additionally, if you’re making fresh pineapple juice, the pineapple pulp can be spun in cheesecloth (ask your chef to help if you need) to yield a very flavorful and clear juice.

Lastly, coffee grounds can be used to make some infusions after brewing a pot (don’t let them sit too long, though. They still carry a lot of flavor).

If your bar has an attached kitchen (or the other way around), speak to your chef and see where you can maximize crossover. Maybe the kitchen can make pickles from leftover cucumbers you’ve used for garnishes, or perhaps you can use the end-cuttings of any produce they have to inspire your next menu change. Collaboration, consolidation, and communication will help you both save costs and reduce your waste.

Finally, to reduce the use of single-use plastics, we’ve switched to using reusable metal (spoons, straws, etc.) for tasting our concoctions at Liquor Lab. We also recommend you find a source of PLA straws and cups, if you use those, in your area (Google is your friend here). PLA Plastic is made from vegetable and plant matter, and it is biodegradable.  Additionally, it doesn’t use any “virgin” material so they won’t cause ecological harm. Yet, they’re still sturdy enough that they won’t melt into a drink like a paper straw will.

In conclusion, we’re always trying to find ways to reduce waste while making sure we aren’t sacrificing the guests’ experience for it.  We’re committed to saving money behind the bar, and helping to save our planet one wedge at a time.


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