Closed loop coctails



Beverage directors and bartenders across the globe are looking closely at ways to reinvent—and reinvigorate—their cocktails in accordance with principles of sustainability. From environmentalism to economics and from creativity to taste, there’s a lot at stake.

Food waste and related issues are on the minds of restaurant executives and chefs, and the push to join the movement extends to all corners of the hospitality industry. Claire Sprouse is a Texas native who has worked in restaurants in Brooklyn, New York, and San Francisco. Sprouse is also the co-founder of Tin Roof Drink Community, a consultancy that works with restaurant owners, bartenders, and other hospitality groups to find more-sustainable practices. In Brooklyn, at Sprouse’s new restaurant and bar, Hunky Dory, she has created a cocktail program inspired by the principles of minimal waste.

In order to use all parts of an ingredient in their drinks (often referred to as “closed-loop cocktails”) bartenders and mixologists have to get creative. “It isn’t limiting,” Sprouse says. “It should inspire you to create new flavors.”

To that end, at Hunky Dory all parts of fruits and some vegetables are utilized. Peaches are dehydrated and pulsed in a blender with salt for an unexpected salt rim. Lemons and limes are juiced, then the rinds are washed and either dehydrated or soaked in water or sugar. They can then be turned into fruit-zest-infused salts and sugars, citrus cream, or citrus syrup.

Hunky Dory even makes a cocktail using old coffee grounds: The Stop and Stay is made with Averna, rum, and “old brew.” For Sprouse, the goal isn’t only to increase awareness of sustainability. This is, after all, a business of pleasure and taste. “These are new flavors,” she says. “And new learning opportunities.”

Cocktails at Hunky Dory were inspired by the principles of minimal waste.
Cocktails at Hunky Dory were inspired by the principles of minimal waste.

Credits: Megan Rainwater

Bartender and author Ryan Chetiyawardana (also known as Mr. Lyan) has been practicing sustainable cocktailing since opening his first bar, White Lyan (now closed), in London’s Hoxton neighborhood in 2013. He famously declared his bar perishable-free, including skipping fruit and ice, to showcase an extreme commitment to environmentalism.

“The key is to look at the details and the individual idiosyncrasies,” he says. “Nature varies, and that is a wonderful thing. By avoiding a formulaic approach, not only can you use ingredients more completely, you can get a better result from them, too.”

One cocktail recipe Chetiyawardana loves, and that includes all parts of an ingredient, is the whiskey sour from his second book, Good Together. Made with an entire half a lemon—peel, pith, and all—it’s something that can be replicated at home. “It’s a great one for at home that uses excess, trim, and whole ingredients effectively,” he says.

Chetiyawardana, who was named International Bartender of the Year in 2015 by Tales of the Cocktail, a nonprofit industry organization, is set to open a bar in Washington, D.C., called Silver Lyan by the end of 2019.

As for why sustainable cocktails are increasingly sought after, he says, “People realize that everyone has their own part to play, and their choices can mean a better future whilst still being about the delicious things they want.”

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