Sustainability in cocktail bars

Charli Tomney | 21/04/2022

Customers can support cocktail bars in their sustainability efforts by reducing use of straws and napkins, using QR menus when provided, sticking to cocktails on the menu and simply having open conversations with bar staff, according to these sustainable cocktail bars.

At number 33, GungHo! in Brighton, everything is reusable.

From espresso coffee grounds being reused to create their own coffee liquor, to using mint stalks to make sugar syrups, creating an egg white substitute to produce the froth on drinks such as Whisky Sours and compostable straws made of wheat.

While at number 25, and our Sustainability award winner, Little Mercies in London, produce is purchased locally and in sustainable materials (such as refillable aluminium containers for spirits), all soap used is made on site and rather than dryers, the bar uses cotton hand towels in the toilets.

Licensee of Gungho!, Julien Barnett said: “[Sustainability] is very important for the world right now, we always see news about the sea covered in plastic, it's horrible to see. If everyone does a little bit, then it really helps in a long way, it really has a massive impact.”

As important as these efforts by bars are, consumers doing their “little bit” is just as crucial.

Barnett added: “If a bar is trying to use QR code menus, try and use those. Don't ask for things you don't need. For example, if you spill a drink, people ask for a napkin or something when we will happily come and clean the table for you.

“If you don't need a straw, don't ask for a straw, and when you're out, be a bit more conscious about what you're having.

“Everyone loves a tropical cocktail, but there are a lot of bars out there making tropical cocktails without having massive waste or reusing that waste. Most bars or restaurants are trying to be sustainable or waste conscious, and that's reflected in the menu.”

Paying attention to the menu is key, while cocktail bars want to ensure customers are enjoying their favourite cocktail exactly how they like it, certain recipes may be amended in the name of sustainability.

Licensee of Little Mercies, Alan Sherwood said: “If bars are working towards sustainable practices, then order [those] drinks, they've worked on them for good reason. 

“If a bar has one drink on the menu that actually uses fresh lime or fresh lemon, then there's probably a reason others’ don't, and it's worth investigating those drinks as well.

“Also, ask questions, ask people what they're doing, because if people are actually passionate about it, it sparks conversations, which can be incredibly useful.

“The more we talk about it, the more we all learn. If a guest is sitting at the bar and asking us what we do, there's a strong possibility something we're doing, they may be able to transfer to their home and how they live, and they might be doing something at home we've not thought about.

“The more information we all share, the more we can all do.”