As exemplified by the growing movement against plastic straws, customers and businesses are taking proactive steps to reduce their impact on the environment. This trend towards sustainability has also seen the rise of many zero-waste bars. Typically defined as a set of principles focused on waste prevention to encourage the redesign of resource life cycles, the goal for the zero-waste movement is so no trash is sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. Tom Egerton, spirits evangelist at Proof & Company for Hong Kong and Macau, explains how the zero-waste practice, in his book, has become less a trend and more of an adaptable lifestyle for both consumers and businesses.
CURATING ZERO-WASTE BEVERAGES
Citing the increase in conversations surrounding sustainability as being the primary factor driving its rise, Tom’s definition of implementing a zero-waste lifestyle goes beyond just bartending practices. Instead, he stresses the importance of the interaction between how a beverage venue has a relationship with the produce that they create, and the land that particular produce comes from. Egerton uses the humble lime as an example of bartending conventions that have planetwide impact, pointing out the ready availability of lime even when out of season. He remarks, “Up until very recently, all of us have just been reaching for that lime without really thinking about the carbon cost attached to each ingredient that goes into our drink.”
FOLLOWING CARBON FOOTPRINTS
For the fellow bartender, barista or owner looking to lean into sustainable practices, Tom suggests understanding where produce comes from: “If we were to look at a Whisky Sour – where would your whisky come from, and what is it made of?” Taking things such as packaging, shipping fees for imports, ingredient origins and their lifespans, production ethics, and the amount of processing required into consideration is one of the best exercises in a rudimentary understanding of the ‘green cycle’ of life. Questioning a drink’s “end-of-life” solution, looking into things such as the viability of recycling glasses, using single-usage items, and the destination of organic compost, is also vital. According to Tom: “Once you understand that, you can look for ways to shrink that cycle and make it smaller.”
A RENEWABLE LIFESTYLE
The common misconception of the primary obstacle being cost in making the switch to sustainable practices was quickly dispelled by Tom, referencing rising consumer awareness as a leading incentive for food and beverage venues to meet these demands. Instead, the hardest thing, Tom says, is the lack of a standard set of best practices for each business. “Each business needs to find their own unique solutions, because what might work here might not work in Hong Kong, or in London, or a tropical island.” In spite of this, Tom firmly does believe that the adoption of zero-waste practices will become a new, and most welcome, way of running a business.
10ml MONIN Almond Orgeat Syrup
30ml Burrata Water
20ml Acid Adjusted Pineapple
10ml Lime Husk Falernum
1d Orange Bitters
Dry shake, wet shake and fine strain. Garnish with crushed pink peppercorn and black sesame seeds.
THE FUNKY ONE
15ml MONIN Vanilla Syrup
30ml Pilsner Beer
20ml Cold Processed Beetroot Juice
1 Whole Egg
Combine all except beer in a cocktail tin and shake briskly or dry blend. Add ice and briskly shake before straining into a spiced-salt rimmed glass. Top with beer and grate salt-cured egg yolks over the surface of the drink.