Sustainability in bars

17. May 2022.

Sustainability is not only a trend topic or popular term these days. It’s what people want.
Sustainability is currently a big incentive in the food and beverage industry. It’s a conscious effort to remove the excess and to make room for less and for reuse.
Small steps often have the greatest impact in this attempt.

Creating a sustainable bar is one of the better things you can do for the planet – and for your own profit. Bars around the world are procuring more local products, minimizing waste and reducing energy consumption.
The first thing you can do to make your bar sustainable is to make your menu seasonal. The whole “from farm to glass” idea is that your drinks contain ingredients directly from producers.

Use fruits and vegetables to the last piece of peel in the entire process. By getting the most out of the ingredients we have, which means that different syrups, infusions, dehydrated decorations, teas etc. can be made. Or make rich compost (compost is a complex formation of half-decomposed plant residue) to enrich soil for gardening in which the plants you will use can grow.
Sometime, however, you need to use perishable ingredients, most of the favorite fruits are perishable, bananas, pineapples, strawberries etc. So what to do when they start to go bad? One thing you can do is to ferment their remnants in juice, wine or tepache.

Reduce the use of plastic if you want to become green because its effects on the environment are very well known. There are many substitutes now for what we need in the hospitality industry such as straws, spoons and other to-go accessories.
With so many people thinking about product sustainability, it forced bartenders to change the way they prepare drinks, which forced bar owners to purchase sustainable products, which forced manufacturers to create more sustainable products.

Don’t throw away wine, once oxidized wine can be turned into vinegar, reductions for drinks, vermouth or syrup from red and white wine that goes very well with gin and rum. If you work in a bar with a restaurant, the kitchen will be more than happy to take wine that’s a week old.
If you have the possibility, grow your own herbs, which will always be fresh, and cut them as needed, they will not dry out and go bad and you can put compost in your garden, which means that you have created a small circular strategy.
Going to zero waste is a long process that will require a lot of trial and error. But in the end it will result in satisfied guests, increased revenue and most importantly in a clean, healthy environment.

The 5 R’s of sustainability can show you the way:
REFUSE (to buy unnecessary things)
REDUCE (what you normally use)
REUSE (the things you already have)
RECYCLE (not just literally, but change the purpose of things that have lost their purpose)
ROT (compost).

Here are two recipes that proved to be excellent:
Banana Oleo syrup
• 100g banana peel
• 100g of sugar

Cut the banana peel into small squares and place them in a jar with equal weight of sugar.
Leave at room temperature overnight, strain through gauze and boil the syrup a little.
Your syrup is ready to use.

Liqueur from coffee grounds residue

250g of coffee grounds
• 50g of sugar
• 250ml of warm water
• 250ml of vodka

In a glass bowl, mix 250g of coffee grounds and 50g of sugar and leave overnight.
Then put 250ml of warm water and stir until the sugar melts. Let everything cool well. Strain through a coffee filter and add 250 ml of vodka. Stir and pour into a glass bottle which you can leave at room temperature for up to a month

Marijan Maksan, barman and mixologist