Bacardi portfolio ambassador reveals the top 10 ways to go green behind the bar.
By Jaymee Mandeville
As a California native who has lived up and down the coast, from Orange County to Los Angeles to San Francisco, the environment has always been at the forefront of my mind. However, if I’m truthful with myself, I find that I overuse our precious resources on a daily basis and constantly look for ways to improve my habits.
Working with Bacardi for the past four years, I have been truly inspired by its “Good Spirited” campaign. Over the years, I have seen first hand the wind turbines that power the visitor center in Puerto Rico, employees riding bicycles around Martini & Rossi in Pessione, Italy, and our distillery, Bombay Gin at Laverstoke, that is a beacon to sustainability today.
To help build a greener future from inside the bar I ask myself 2 questions: How do I minimize waste and what ways can I reuse and recycle?
As a brand ambassador, I have the opportunity to spend time with the most talented bartenders and celebrated bars across the U.S. and beyond. I have asked many bartenders in the West what green initiatives they put in play in their bars. Surprisingly, many of them said “nothing right now, but I should.” For many it’s difficult to find a place to start or a way to be fiscally responsible, as well as environmentally smart.
Here is the checklist of accessible things you can do and the top 10 ways to get green behind the bar:
1. Source Sustainability: Bacardi’s “Good Spirited” initiative is working to achieve a zero footprint by installing turbines, solar systems, mass boilers and finding ways to reuse heat and discarded raw materials. At each of the distilleries, we work directly with farmers to make sure everything from our sugarcane to agave is sustainably sourced. There are many small batch distilleries that appear to be green today however, they may use glass bottles sourced from non-recycled glass or labels that are printed with toxic ink and non-recycled paper.
As a bartender, I loved working with local farmers and farmer’s markets to obtain produce. In California, we are lucky in that we can source just about everything from within the state. From an economic standpoint, it’s good business to “water the land you live on,” but it also reduces gas and pollution, which come as a result of transporting goods.
2. Compost: Compost is organic matter that can be recycled and used as fertilizer. So many organic items are wasted in restaurants from lime hulls to ginger skins. This can all be composted; it just takes the time to sort it. If you are running a bar, just provide compost buckets at every prep station and make it easy on your employees.
3. Recycle Glass: With the same ease as separating out compost, you can recycle all glass. First off, try using products that are made from recycled glass for bottling, then keep the chain going by recycling the used and discarded bottles at the end of the night.
4. Use Less Ice: Craft cocktails are the thing these days and for good reason – simple recipes, superior ingredients and skilled technique! However, how much ice is wasted by having shaking ice, pebble, Kold-Draft, large format cubes, etc.? What about burning ice wells at the end of the night? You can still have quality ice in your program, just rethink your usage, storage and do not burn wells at the end of the night as it’s simply a waste of water.
5. No Plastic Straws: Bacardi introduced a No Straw Movement last year and does not use plastic straws at any of our events. This is the one point I’ve had the most engagement with bartenders over. There are high-quality paper straw companies that are gaining popularity and bartenders are rethinking offering superfluous straws. I make a point to ask for my cocktails without straws to help spread the movement and stop the waste. The most annoying straws are the 2 little red stir straws you sometimes get in cocktails served on the rocks. They don’t even serve a function!
6. Grow Onsite: Why not try hydroponic gardens and bee colonies on the rooftop or simple planter boxes that line patios with fresh herbs?
7. Eliminate Bar Napkins: Another simple step is to replace bar napkins with reusable coasters. I have seen many venues cut up yesterday’s menu to make today’s coasters. If you choose not to eliminate bar napkins in total, you can still make the choice to use recycled paper napkins.
8. Spread Awareness: National Water Day and Earth Day recently passed, but you don’t need a national holiday to do so raise awareness. Simply communicating to your bar guests and social audiences is very impactful.
9. Smart Cleaning: Minimize water use when cleaning the bar. Do not run the dishwasher unless it is full. Use sanitation buckets instead of letting the faucet run and using buckets of hot water to clean at the end of the night.
10. Get Creative with Bar Trash: Ask yourself, is there another use for the pistachio shells or the day old lemon juice? Most likely, if you stretch your imagination you will find ways to use everything at least twice.
While there are some people doing amazing things to promote sustainability, we are still finding ways to adopt this in bars with a wide reach, so every little bit helps. The best advice I can give is to work smart and think about how to maximize usage!
Jaymee Mandeville is an experienced bartender who managed three beverage programs in Los Angeles before becoming the West Senior Portfolio Ambassador for the Bacardi Trade Advocacy team. Tales of the Cocktail named Mandeville in 2012 one of the “Top 10 Mixologists to Watch” in the nation.