That Lemon Slice on Your Cocktail Is Contributing More Than Its Fair Share to Climate Change

After years of maximalist food and beverage trends, lots of bartenders are beginning to embrace minimalism. And no, it’s not simply the pointed rejection of the unnecessary for the sake of simplicity– it’s minimalism in pursuit of the perfect cocktail, one that can stand on its own without supporting excitement. These cocktails can be found in all sizes and shapes: slender highballs of flavored liqueur and soda water with a long block of clear ice, a Martini served together with a single olive and lemon peel, or a Margarita topped with a citrus salt in lieu of a hunk of lime well balanced atop the rim. Bartenders are turning away from extremely ornate cocktail garnishes for their own gastronomic peace of mind, but likewise since these accoutrements contribute more than their fair share to food waste.
When Calum Fraser, ambassador for zero-waste spirits brand Discarded Spirits Co., shared this figure during a workshop at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail conference, I had to do some mental math: One kilo is about 8 lemons’ worth of juice or produces 32 lemon wedges that may go totally disregarded on top of a cocktail. And it’s worth mentioning that for the majority of the world, that lemon took a trip quite far from the tropical place in which it was grown to discover its way to the top of your glass, suggesting carbon emissions are definitely part of the equation. While I understand the visual appeal of a cocktail garnish, from a simple slice of citrus to a more decorative mix of fruits, leaves, and spices, it’s worth asking: Is the resulting waste truly worth it?
Let's Stop Using Garnishes
When it pertains to reconsidering cocktail garnishes, there are two camps. The very first is set on eliminating them. That implies no garnishes, no waste, and, more notably, that whatever is in the glass needs to base on its own. The second lean into a more revisionist approach by making closed loop mixed drinks, where waste is diverted and changed into brand-new components. Think dehydrated lemon peels turned into salt for the rim of a glass. Each effort speaks to how bartenders are looking inward at the ways in which their practices impact not just the environment through waste but also their bottom lines with regards to stock cost.

” I have a strong position on cocktail garnishes,” states Cody Pruitt, owner of Libertine, a buzzy new French restaurant in New York City’s West Village. While Pruitt’s take is maybe extreme, his thinking for it is sound, and I can testify that the garnish-free mixed drinks served at Libertine are completely tasty.
” I spend so much time sourcing the exact right products and ingredients, keeping up late at night for weeks on end nerding out over glasses choices and investing an unhealthy quantity of cash on multiple ice alternatives. Why would I then put something on top of it?” exclaims Pruitt. “The majority of the time, garnishes vary from either merely extraneous (inedible pineapple leaves, anyone?) to outright inaccurate (a lime or lemon or orange wedge encourages visitors to squeeze them into the drink, which should be correctly balanced by the time the beverage is in front of the visitor in the first location).”.

Matt Seigel, sustainability director at plant-based restaurant Little Saint in Healdsburg, California, sees the issue of citrus waste as a chance. His group buys fresh citrus wholesale and dehydrates it for edible garnishes; the kitchen utilizes the whole fruits when peels are taken off for the bar, and they pre-cut a little amount of lemon wedges for each service so as not to waste any.

The bar program at Little Saint and their freshly introduced dining idea, The Second Story, features mixed drinks made with fresh pressed juices from a range of fruits and veggies. One simple strawberry will be used 3 methods: the fruit juice is made into syrup, the pulp is dehydrated into a chip for garnish, and the strawberry tops are instilled into spirits.

Across the pond, Iain McPherson, bartender and owner of Panda & Sons in Edinburgh, Scotland, try outs freeze drying as a method to help omit bar waste. Rather of shipping citrus from around the world a couple of times a week, he makes a couple massive orders a year to mix and freeze dry citrus juice that gets reconstituted in a little bit of water before each service.

While purchasing dehydrators and juicers may be a little a stretch for minimizing bar waste in the house, there are low-waste lessons to be learned from these bartenders. Think about using the hulls from juiced lemons for Limoncello or simply being fine with a less adorned cocktail at a bar. After all, if you desire a snack with your beverage, simply order a treat.

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