Cobbler and Crew, Pune, has won accolades for its focus on all things local.
Chikki peanut liqueur, a chamomile isomalt disk on a negroni and a bitter gourd-infused cocktail. This varied menu has been inspired by a rather unique muse: the planet. As India’s food and beverage space takes stock of its carbon footprint, bartenders are increasingly looking for inventive ways to raise the bar with sustainability.
When 30 Best Bars India, an initiative by Tulleeho and MW Magazine to rank and celebrate the best bars and bartenders in the country, announced its winners in New Delhi, a key metric for the judgment wassustainability. From sourcing ingredients locally, creating syrups from kitchen excess, reducing plastic consumption, reusing bottles, and reducing ice waste, bars are looking to circular processes to avoid conspicuous consumption.
Bhavya Verma, Manager at Tulleeho says, “For us, Cobbler and Crew and Malaka Spice in Pune won the Best Sustainability Job award, due to their overall commitment to the process. Malaka Spice has her farm, Cherish, and over a ton of food waste is composted on site. The team takes turns working on the farm and they have a hydroponic system set up on the rooftop to grow herbs. They quickly freeze excess fresh fruit to reuse for the bar at a later date.”
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Waiter at work in PCO
Popularly known as one of the best bars in the country, Sidecar, New Delhi boasts a seasonal menu that highlights local ingredients. The bar also works with local communities to make coasters from textile waste and creates drinks like Mehrauli, which uses a zero-waste kombucha made from discarded citrus peels.
Yangdup Lama from Sidecar
Yangdup Lama, co-founder of Sidecar, explains: “We have always been vocal advocates of showcasing local products and keeping our carbon footprint low. To that end, we focus on seasonally available items and highlight them through our Cocktail of the Week and limited-edition menus. Our sister farm, Bhumi, helps us source the freshest fruits, vegetables and micro-greens, so you’ll find a local kaffir lime in your cocktail instead of yuzu or beetroot in our winter drink. Our bar and kitchen also make sure to take advantage of leftover food by making infusions, bases, and broths that minimize food waste.”
Cobbler and Crew, Pune, has won praise for its approach to all things local, where each drink is a reflection of the city, whether it be the use of a bhakharwadi masala spices in drinks, or strict adherence to the reduce, reuse, and recycle policy. Here, a torch and kiln are used to re-mould the chipped glasses, the bottles are sourced from a kabadiwallaand the coasters are recycled from plastic packaging by a local brand, Recharkha Ecosocial.
Copitas, at The Four Seasons, Bangalore, made its commitment to the environment evident with its ‘Greener Future Menu’, which “is inspired by the spirit of using every part of the plant, from seed to fruit. “The pandemic has taught us new ways to reduce and control waste as we prepare drinks, pre-portion and use fresh ingredients for our craft cocktails sourced from local Trikaya Farms,” says Sarath Nair, Bar Manager, Copitas.
This is complemented by the use of locally grown coconuts, coffee from Coorg and clay pots and containers from Bengaluru’s Pottery Town. “This creates an opportunity for our bartenders to engage guests in thought-provoking storytelling. We have started using paper and coconut straws, and our replantable coasters and seed bombs with holy basil seeds are great on the go,” adds Sarath.
Chamomile Negroni at PCO
Involve the client
Engaging guests in this conversation is an essential part of the process for bartenders. Kolkata-based independent bartender Sourav Singh has learned how to repurpose excess fruit from his garnishes into inventive ingredients for his cocktails: “The leftover orange pulp from the garnishes is made into a marmalade which is then made into a cocktail bourbon-based that has become a conversation.” entree with many guests.”
Mango Jalapeño Margarita at Pousada By The Beach
Bars across the country are driving the conversation, even naming drinks with eco-friendly terms, like ‘Recycled Love’, at PCO, New Delhi, run by PassCode Hospitality. Vikas Kumar, bar manager at PCO, says: “We make a rose petal distillate from the leftover rose petals for this drink, and for our Chamomile Negroni, we infuse gin with the flowers and then use the same chamomile flowers for garnish. in an isomalt. sugar disc.”
This philosophy is carried forward at another bar run by PassCode Hospitality, Saz on the Beach, Goa. Bar manager Prateek Gusain says the tropical state offers a wide variety of local ingredients. “In creating our menu, we use limited fruit, but research new techniques to maximize what is seasonal and sustainable.” ‘Under The Palms’ is an ode to all things local, with cashew feni, house-made Goan liqueur, a kokum spice cordial and Goan lemon juice. Leftover kokum and Goan lemon zest are finely chopped and cooked with sugar to create a kokum jam.
Adds Prateek: “One of our garnishes, the ‘leftover crown,’ is made with excess grapefruit zest and fennel seeds, dehydrated into a disk, and for ‘All Clear Now,’ the white liqueurs are mixed with mint stalks. and an orange peel soda. which has a curious backstory. We make stock water with mint stems and orange peels, boil it, cool it, and then use the Mr Butlers soda machine to carbonate it.”
ice ice baby
While reusing kitchen waste is one way to reduce a bar’s carbon footprint, ice is another great resource that often goes down the drain, but can be saved and reused. Prateek explains: “Ice left over after melting is collected in a tray. We remove the impurities, boil it, and then cool it down to make ice again.” At Cobbler and Crew, “various small ice bins are filled up to a quarter to reduce waste caused by bulky ice machines,” adds Bhavya.
A flower-inspired cocktail in Copitas
While the industry seeks to create a leaner, greener bar menu, local and seasonal ingredients are emerging as the biggest category to move the story forward. Ankush Gamre, Bar Manager, Masque, and The Living Room, Mumbai, concludes: “Seasonal produce naturally enhances flavours, while leftovers are often pickled, fermented or preserved for future use; the idea is to maximize flavor and minimize waste. ”
Offcuts from prep stations in the bar and kitchen are reused into new components, be they syrups, juices, broths, powders, or salts; many of these become ingredients or garnishes in drinks. Which, as a result, is a win-win situation, as it also results in the exploration of powerful new flavors, from grapefruit peels to bitter gourd skins.