Who says sustainability is limited to fashion and food? Of late, cocktail bars are becoming increasingly eco-minded in a bid to mitigate the environmental impacts of a typically wasteful industry.
One of the pioneers of this movement was White Lyan, a London establishment that declared it would not use any perishable ingredients in its drinks when it opened five years ago. Although it shuttered last year (becoming Super Lyan), other bars have picked up where it left off. Meet these six tireless advocates for “green” cocktails.
1. Bisou, Paris
The space: With a marble bar counter and a distinctive millennial-pink-hued awning, Bisou is a charming joint that bills itself as “sexy and sustainable”. What it lacks in size, it makes up for with its inventive approach to tipples.
How it’s sustainable: It sources only local and organic ingredients, and minimises waste by dehydrating leftover produce for use as cocktail garnishes (yes, they’re all edible).
Cocktails to try: There’s no menu here, so all drinks are bespoke. Check if there are any slushy cocktails available as they come with fascinating flavour profiles. Previous creations included one that featured sous vide slow-cooked pumpkin and lemon zest syrup, as well as a refreshing melon colada.
The space: The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz (the duo behind San Francisco restaurants Mission Chinese Food and Michelin-starred Commonwealth), the wood- and concrete-filled space is an exercise in contemporary chic.
How it’s sustainable: Cocktails aren’t stirred or shaken here to reduce the use of ice. Straws are made of actual straw, and are biodegradable and compostable.
Cocktails to try: The bar offers a selection of draft cocktails, which means that they are pre-made and chilled, then dispensed when ordered (like beer on tap). Try the Spicy Whiskey Ginger (a potent combination of bourbon, ginger and lemon).
The space: Exuding understated luxury, the Michelin-starred restaurant’s bar section comes with plush seating and warm lighting.
How it’s sustainable: Re-purposing kitchen scraps and turning them into intriguing ingredients is the order of the day here.
Cocktails to try: Muay Thai is made with rum, leftover ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf, while Clever Hippie contains “astronaut juice” (made from leftover orange peels), passion fruit and sparkling wine.
The space: Located in the upmarket Mayfair district, Sexy Fish is the epitome of kitschy opulence (read: fish-shaped ceiling lamps designed by Frank Gehry and mermaid statues created by Damien Hirst). It’s also reportedly the home of Europe’s largest Japanese whisky collection.
How it’s sustainable: None of its cocktails use perishables; instead, citrus, herbs and garnishes are replaced with cordials, syrups and shrubs. What’s more, straws are biodegradable and are only provided upon request.
Cocktails to try: Soupe du Jour, a savoury-meets-sweet concoction incorporating Japanese whisky and miso that’s served in a soup bowl and Under the Moss, an earthy potion that counts wasabi, green Sichuan pepper, kumquat and beetroot among its ingredients.
The space: Buzzy and intimate, this watering hole is a local favourite. Its interiors are fancy but not overly fussy – just like the tipples it serves up.
How it’s sustainable: Last year, bartender Julian Bayuni founded Trash the Place, a movement that encourages bars around Amsterdam to create closed-loop cocktails to reduce waste. The bar also uses metal or bamboo straws, and is exploring ways to repurpose discarded fruit peels.
Cocktails to try: While the menu changes every month, current offerings include Prancing Pony (vodka paired with homemade gazpacho) and Red Moon (a mix of gin, dry vermouth and homemade port syrup topped with star anise foam).
6. Himkok, Oslo
The space: This hidden speakeasy doubles up as a micro-distillery, and there’s also a cider garden and greenhouse on its grounds. It’s little wonder it was ranked 20th on the World’s 50 Best Bars list last year.
How it’s sustainable: 80% of the spirits Himkok uses, like vodka and gin, are made in-house, while its herbs are grown using hydroponics.
Cocktails to try: The Beta (carrot juice and ginseng spiked with Himkok vodka), or the Fjellbekk-san (a unique Asian-Norwegian offering which blends sake with elderflower tonic).