Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023

Cocktail With A Conscience: Understanding Sustainability With Cocktails

Cocktail With A Conscience: Understanding Sustainability With Cocktails

Sustainable cocktails are cocktails that are more in harmony with nature. It’s about minimising natural resources and conserving energy.

Shaken, stirred, or frozen, cocktails in their various delicious forms have another element to incorporate in 2021: Sustainability.

There’s a new rising renaissance, a sustainable one happening in the cocktail world. Even the drinks that we do has a carbon footprint. Wondering what makes your tipple a “sustainable” and if these would be plain and bland?

Well, no – they are very much like the refreshing ones we love to sip on. Asmani Subramanian, Diageo India Brand Ambassador aware us, “In the past decade, there has been a huge universal call to sustainability, and the world can no longer shy away from serving and enjoying mindful conscious drinks. One of the easiest ways to become more sustainable in cocktail making is to use your ingredients to their full potential. One should take the a zero-waste approach to creating cocktails. When we talk about sustainability, we only look at the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface and beyond the waste that we create, there are many ways in which we can consume efficiently to create a better bar, a better business, and a better working environment. As a mixologist, its best to do your part for a more sustainable future.”

As we become more eco-conscious in all aspects of our lives, we’re learning to better appreciate and protect the earth’s bounty, conscientiously celebrating the planet we all share. For cocktails, that looks like reducing food waste, buying local ingredients, and utilizing brands that prioritize sustainability.

 It’s important to understand three important aspects will help one drink sustainably – Energy, Waste, Community. Asmani says, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred from one form to another’. The world is using more energy than ever before, despite all the talk of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and wave. Oil is still the world’s dominant fossil fuel source and the Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases generated by burning fossil fuels produce energy. This is one of the principal causes of global warming and climate change today.” 

“Start by thinking about the (often perishable) ingredients that we use in our drinks. On an average, it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of food energy. Modern agriculture relies on fossil fuels to grow and transport food to us which leaves carbon footprint,” he adds.

“By understanding the product lifecycle (manufacturing, distribution, customer, end of the life) help yourself by understanding how was it grown? what impact it had? Was it conventional?  It’s important to understand the wider food wastage, the latest Food Waste Index Report 2021 by UNEP, estimates that 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed. A whopping US $ 14 billion worth of food products are wasted annually in India, wastage of food at the consumer’s end is also due to excess buying, this wastage also leads to a huge landfill, and energy consumption. Becoming mindful of this will help us flourish in coming years,” he continues.

While explaining garden to glass concept, he says, “To develop a more sustainable future, one can reduce the number of fossil fuels used to get our ingredients. To every problem, there is a most simple solution, from garden to glass, farms to tables are the simplest yet the most beautiful way of reducing food miles.”

He adds, “Many chefs and bartenders across the globe have started to create small herb gardens and edible flowers in their work area. The aromatic compounds that give these plants characteristic flavour is constantly evaporating from the surfaces of their leaves, wafting into the air around them. This is precisely the reason why we can smell them; the edible flowers bring bright and visually appealing garnishes to one’s drink.” 

“Each season brings us fresh flavours and they add so much elegance to a drink. Finding smaller, local producers for ingredients, make the smaller farming communities thrive. They have the freedom to grow to produce that is not necessarily commercially viable, so by going local, one may get the opportunity to work with flavours or ingredients that are not available outside of your local area. It’s a great benefit growing one’s ingredients; not only will this cut down on potential packaging waste, but it will also reduce the carbon footprint and become part of a sustainable ecosystem in one’s bar or home. Imagine planting your own herb/fruit/veggie garden with compost that you've made from your organic waste and watered with rainwater caught on your roof? A great hobby at the same time it helps the cities to recoup some land back from huge buildings.”

These drinks are more in harmony with nature by minimizing precious natural resources, conserving energy, and minimizing pollution while bringing a mindful craft and wellbeing of everything within the proximity of the bar or one’s home. 

To be more sustainable, at-home and professional mixologists should, “Always be mindful of your daily needs, enjoy them when in season, learn how to store them properly and to increase the shelf life, think twice before discarding (unless it’s becoming a composite). Squeezed limes can be sundried to make black lime (loomi) originated from Sultanate of Oman, they can be used as a whole, sliced, or grounded spice in middle eastern dishes.”

The ‘Nose to Tail’ philosophy in the culinary world rose to prominence in the mid-90s and involved making sure that no part of an animal goes to waste when cooking. Fergus Henderson opened his London restaurant St. John in 1994 and is a pioneer of the whole movement. 

“Root to Flower is a recently popularized extension of this into the plant kingdom — and attempt to use every part of a fruit or vegetable — even the parts that you would usually discard autonomously without thought,” he adds.

For mixologists here are a few hacks that can be explored:


One of the easiest ways to become more sustainable in cocktail making is to use your ingredients to their full potential – taking a zero-waste approach to creating cocktails. Citrus fruits for example are notoriously used for their juice, but if you peel the rind, you can repurpose it to make syrups, garnishes, or Oleo Saccharum.


It takes a lot of water and effort to make ice. Minimize use of natural resources by finding alternative ways to chill drinks. For cocktails, why not try pre-batching? Pre-batched cocktails can be stored in the freezer to make them chill. They also speed up service and ensure consistency of the serve.


Dehydrated fruit is ideal for making garnishes. The process can significantly increase the shelf life of perishable fruits and reduce the amount of food waste from your venue as a result. Just be cautious of using non-energy efficient equipment to dehydrate.


On the surface, there’s nothing sinister about the average straw. It can be used to stir or consume drinks or can simply feature as a decoration to complete the serve. The trouble is most straws are single-use plastic and are more likely to end up in the ocean polluting our seas.

Bar professionals should always try to find ways of becoming more sustainable and be environmentally conscious, whether it is minimalizing wastage/ energy saving/ locally sourcing etc. It’s also worth remembering that, often, our customers choose a cocktail to try new flavours or for a nice treat – not just because of its sustainability credentials. For this reason, we must remember and accept that sometimes, waste is unavoidable. Like most things in bartending, it’s about finding the right balance that works for you!

Check these recipes: 



Ketel One Vodka 50 Ml

Homemade Ginger Syrup 25 ml

Homemade Soda to Top  

Fresh Mint Leaves 

How To Make:

Fill ice in a copper mug or highball glass 

Add Ketel One vodka, Ginger Honey Syrup, top soda, stir well.

Garnish with a nice mint sprig or any herb from your garden or window. 

Homemade Ginger Syrup 

(Local Ginger 100 gms / Local Honey 200 ml or Local Jaggery / Water 100 ml)

(Grind the ginger with water in a blender, strain the juice, in a small pan, bring honey/jagger with ginger juice to boil, in medium flame for 7 – 10 minutes) strain and store in chiller)

Sun dries the left-over ginger pulp, add to your hot water or tea, and enjoy. 



Ketel one - 60ml

Tomato flavoured Water - 60 ml (Leftover water from blanched tomatoes for Butter chicken) 

Tomato shrub - 3bspn

How To Make:

Shake all the ingredients, fine strain into a glass bottle, chill and serve over ice or neat

Tomato shrub: 

Leftover Tomato pulp 100 gms 

Raw Baby tomato pulp 100gms

Jaggery 100 Gms 

100 ml water

Cook all the ingredients for 15mins in medium flame.



Ketel One – 60 ml 

Homemade spent coffee grounds Syrup– 60 ml 

How To Make:

Shake all the ingredients, fine strain into a glass bottle, chill and serve over ice or neat

Homemade spent coffee grounds Syrup:

Spent Coffee Ground 500 Gms 

Water 500 ml

Jaggery / Brown Sugar (2:1 Ratio or as one prefers)

Mix the coffee and water, let it rest for 6 – 8 hours, set aside for intense flavour boil them for 3- 5 minutes, filter through a coffee strainer, add the sweetener and cook until syrupy consistency, let it cool and chill