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Zero-Waste Cocktails

by Lia Picard
zero-waste cocktails

Mixologists who share a commitment to sustainability by not wasting anything

These days, it’s not enough for a cocktail to just be considered craft. As sustainability becomes more mainstream, we’re seeing sustainable practices take hold in restaurants and bars. Bartenders around the world are whipping up “zero-waste” cocktails.

Beatnik in Chicago lures people in with its embellished bohemian decor and the promise of a creative tipple. The wiz behind the bar is Benjamin Wood, and he’s turned a sharp eye toward sustainable practices when it comes to making drinks. It starts with the brands of spirits they use. “It’s important to use products that have an approach to sustainability, or at least focus on it,” says Wood. At home, this means buying organic brands like Prairie Vodka and Gin or Tequila.

Wood also tries to use the entire fruit, another easy practice to adapt at home. “With citrus in general, we’ll use the twists to make different sweeteners and cordials that are used in different cocktails,” he says. It’s also important to consider the ancillary products you’re using. “One of the things we do is use biodegradable straws made from corn,” explains Wood.

To help you create your own zero-waste cocktails at home, we’ve rounded up these delicious recipes.

Sparkling Gimlet

Benjamin Wood, Beatnik, Chicago  |  Serves 1

"In an effort to close the loop on many different areas of our operation, we try to eliminate waste,” says mixologist Benjamin Wood. “How we approach this in one fashion is to save any flat sparkling wine and make it into a sweetener. Quite simply, we take our flat Brut and blend with an equal amount of sugar to make a more complex sweetener. We use it in a cocktail on our menu, however, I’ve found it to work in many different variations. You might use it to jazz up a simple gimlet."


3/4 oz. Brut Simple Syrup
3/4 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
2 oz. organic vodka or gin (use rum for a daiquiri variation)
lime wheel

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with lime wheel.

Thai Basil Cocktail

Andrew Harbour, Farmhouse, Los Angeles  |  Serves 1

"Our cocktails are made with a selection of seasonal herbs from my family farm,” says Nathan Peitso, executive farmer. “Scented geranium, vanilla, tarragon, lavender and flowering rosemary are all highlighted this spring. With every cocktail, we pair seasonal fruit with seasonal herbs to give people an authentic feel for spring, summer, fall and winter."


1 1/2 oz. Silencio mezcal
1/2 oz. poblano liqueur
1 oz. passion fruit syrup
1/8 oz. Fresno chili juice
1 oz. lemon juice
sprig of Thai basil
lime salt

Combine mezcal, poblano liqueur, passion fruit syrup, chili and lemon juices in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain over ice into a rocks glass with a salted rim. Garnish with Thai basil.

The Industrialist

Robby DiTota, Highball & Harvest, Grande Lakes Orlando  |  Serves 1

"The Industrialist was inspired by the honeysuckle flowers seen throughout Grande Lakes Orlando,” says mixologist Robby DiTota. “From that inspiration came the integration of the flower and the plant’s distinct flavor into the cocktail. Additionally, the mint leaves used as garnish are also foraged from our ‘Chef’s Garden’ located just outside the doors of the restaurant."


1 1/2 oz. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
2 oz. house-made honeysuckle crème de menthe
1/4 oz. Fernet Branca
3 mint leaves

For house-made honeysuckle crème de menthe:
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup honeysuckle blossoms (if honeysuckle isn’t available, omit)
1 1/2 cup vodka
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water

Steep the mint leaves and honeysuckle blossoms in a jar with vodka for 12 hours. Strain liquid, return infused vodka to jar. Bring sugar and water to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes making a syrup. Add to jar with infused vodka. Steep for 10 hours before using.

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