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7 Ways to Build a More Sustainable Bar

7 Ways to Build a More Sustainable Bar

These small steps can make a big impact on your program.

There’s more pressure than ever on F&B to go green. While flipping your already well-oiled establishment overnight into a zero-waste utopia is unrealistic, sustainability isn’t an all-or-nothing game. Make an immediate impact at your operation with these seven small steps and save money while you’re at it.

1. Replace Coasters

If you’re a bartender like me who sets down a drink napkin before guests settle in on the barstools, you know you can go through a case of BevNaps faster than Mother Earth can say “no bueno.” Invest in reusable, washable linen or felt coasters. If you go the cork route, just make sure it’s thick enough to deter those customers who like to crumble.

2. Communicate with the kitchen

If Chef is whipping up a rhubarb panna cotta, you’d better be all over those ugly odds and ends so you can cook them down into a puree for cocktails. See what the kitchen has on the docket for the week and get creative using their waste to your bar menu’s advantage.

3. Check Your Supply Chain

Are the companies you’re doing business with in line with your bar’s values? Could you be supporting a more local distillery instead of getting every trending spirit around the world? It’s worth scrolling through your product mix to see where you can tighten up.

4. Conserve citrus

If you’ve ever juiced citrus, you’ve cringed at how fast you can cruise through entire cases of lemons and limes. There’s no substitute for fresh citrus in a shaken craft cocktail—it’s as essential as the booze—but get the most out of pricey citrus by peeling ALL fruit before juicing, then adding peels to cambros of sugar for your own oleo-saccharum for use in batched cocktails. Cut back on shaken drinks and introduce more stirred classics on your menu to reduce your citrus bill and carbon footprint.

5. Create compost

There are endless bin options out there now, so any bar can find what’s best for its program. And while composting paper napkins, used garnishes and prep waste can cut down on waste removal costs, you can also use that precious final product as safe fertilizer to feed your bar’s fresh herb or edible flower garden.

6. Chill with the ice

Ice takes a lot of energy to make and keep frozen. When we’re filling shakers hundreds of times a night with ice just to throw it in the sink, it adds up to a perplexing conundrum. We need ice, but we can cut back. Start easy by serving water without ice. Invest in a few sets of whiskey rocks to really tickle those bourbon-on-a-big-rock fanatics.

7. Forage away

What grows wildly where you live? I once worked at a brewery that paid patrons in beer for every pound of hops they had foraged, for use in a “community harvest” brew. Meet up one afternoon with your crew to forage wild watercress or ramps for use in Bloody Marys or pick pounds of wild blueberries for unbeatable syrups. Guests will flip that their cocktail was just chillin’ in the woods hours earlier. Plus, a backyard bounty is always free.

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