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Holiday Cocktails with Zero Waste

by Sandra Ramani

A Los Angeles restaurant upcycles ingredients from the kitchen to create festive and delicious drinks.

At Los Angeles’ celebrated Providence restaurant, seafood may be the focus, but sustainability is the philosophy—even at the bar. “Watching how the cooks were being so efficient with their ingredients and never being wasteful, really inspired me to move toward sustainable and zero-waste cocktails,” says Beverage Director Kim Stodel. “So I made a point to become part of the ecosystem of the restaurant, using what the kitchen no longer needed. Now, the elements found on the plate are also being used in the drinks—which I think helps create a more cohesive experience for the guest.”

For Stodel, a big “aha moment” happened when he realized he could lengthen the lives of the ingredients he was using and find ways to use something more than once—“like infusing lemonade with ‘ugly’ strawberries, and then later blending and freezing those strawberries to make popsicles,” he explains. Stodel notes that these techniques can be especially useful during the holidays, when “meals can be overly luxurious and decadent to the point of excess, but that doesn’t mean we should be wasteful.” By using trim from the kitchen and extending the life of an ingredient, “the process becomes more thoughtful—which is a great metaphor for the holidays.”

Stodel created three zero-waste holiday cocktails exclusively for Organic Spa Magazine.


Using leftovers from cranberry sauce

In a cocktail shaker, mix:

  • 1 heaped teaspoon leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce triple sec or orange liquor (your choice)
  • 1 1/2 ounce vodka

Add ice, shake vigorously and double strain using a fine mesh strainer, into a martini glass. Garnish with leftover cranberries or a lemon or lime twist.

Parsnip Flip

Using leftovers from parsnip side dishes

If you're making parsnips for your holiday meal, chances are you're going to need to peel them. Parsnip skins are sweet and aromatic, and really stand out when infused with vodka; this flavored vodka is delicious in a "flip", a colonial-style cocktail that’s perfect before or after your holiday meal.

In a cocktail shaker, add:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce dark rum
  • 1 1/2 ounce parsnip infused vodka (see below)

Dry shake (shake without ice) all ingredients vigorously to emulsify egg into cocktail mixture. Add ice and shake vigorously again. Double strain into a martini coupe glass and garnish with grated nutmeg.

Parsnip Vodka Infusion:

  • 3 1/2 ounces fresh parsnip peels
  • 1 liter vodka

Wash and scrub parsnips before peeling. Add parsnip peels and vodka to a clean airtight container; label and refrigerate. Keep vodka bottle for later. Stir or agitate every 12 hours. Let sit for at least 24 hours (two days is good, three is better). Strain parsnip from vodka and rebottle.

Sweet and Sour

Using leftovers from apple pie

Save the apple skins for a tasty non-alcoholic drink everyone can enjoy (and that can be mixed with your favorite spirit).

In a blender, add:

  • 1/2 cup apple skin trim
  • 3 1/2 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 1 3/4 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 5 1/4 ounces cinnamon simple syrup (see below)

Blend on high ‘til liquid. Strain the juice from the pulp. Bottle, label and store in the fridge ‘til needed. Serve over ice and garnish with grated cinnamon. One ounce of your favorite booze can be added to the glass if you feel like imbibing.

Cinnamon Simple Syrup:

Boil 7 ounces water. Steep 2 sticks of cinnamon in the boiled water for at least 10 minutes. Strain the water from cinnamon. Let cinnamon dry (it can be used for grating on top of drink). Add 7 ounces sugar and stir until dissolved. Let syrup cool to room temperature.

Bottle or store in clean airtight container, label and keep in the fridge for up to one week.

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