Shaking Up Sustainability, Discover How India’s Bartenders Are Leading The Green Cocktail Revolution

Cheers to a greener future in the beverage industry!

by Mallika Khurana
Shaking Up Sustainability, Discover How India’s Bartenders Are Leading The Green Cocktail Revolution

The cocktail culture in India is blossoming, intertwining with the rising tide of sustainability. The modern consumer is not just looking for a delicious drink but one that aligns with their eco-conscious values. As we delve into the fascinating intersection of these trends, it becomes evident that sustainability is not just a buzzword but a driving force in the evolving world of mixology. To explore this further, we turned to Ishrat Kaur and Pearl Fernandes, Trade Ambassadors at Bacardi India. These pioneers in sustainable mixology shed light on how they are reshaping the landscape with their innovative practices.

The Evolving Role Of Bartenders In Promoting Sustainable Mixology

Photo Credits: Canva

The Bacardi Trends Report 2024 highlights sustainability as a key focus for consumers. It reflects a broader shift in consciousness where indulgence aligns with responsibility. To delve deeper into this fascinating convergence of sustainability and mixology, we had an enlightening conversation with Ishrat Kaur and Pearl Fernandes, Trade Ambassadors at Bacardi India. Their innovative approaches have redefined modern bartending, showcasing how sustainability can be seamlessly integrated into every aspect of crafting cocktails.

Pearl Fernandes emphasises the increasing responsibility of Indian bartenders to adopt sustainable practices as the cocktail culture grows in the country. “It’s encouraging to see many of them adopting eco-friendly techniques, such as re-carbonating open soda and tonic water and using fruit from seed to skin. These practices are becoming more common in bars across the country,” she explains. This shift not only promotes sustainability but also sets a precedent for the future of the industry.

Ishrat Kaur echoes this sentiment, highlighting the industry’s efforts to minimise waste and adopt eco-friendly practices. “While achieving 100% sustainability in a bar setting is challenging, many bartenders are making significant efforts to adopt eco-friendly practices,” she says. She revealed that by minimising waste with reusable straws, avoiding single-use plastics, and recycling materials, mixologists are setting new standards in the industry. The emphasis on local, ethical sourcing and seasonal menus is not only popularising green cocktails but also promoting a broader commitment to sustainability.

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Crafting Cocktails With A Sustainable Twist

When it comes to creating new cocktails or refining existing recipes, Pearl Fernandes’ mantra is to “keep it simple.” She focuses on letting the spirit of the drink shine by using complementary ingredients that enhance its core flavours. Her top priority is experimenting with seasonal and local ingredients, paying special attention to the flavour balance to guarantee a pleasing palate. 

Ishrat Kaur, on the other hand, emphasises the importance of leveraging seasonal ingredients to promote sustainability. “By selecting local and seasonal ingredients, we can offer guests fresh, vibrant flavours while promoting sustainability,” she explains. By continuously innovating and seeking guest feedback, Ishrat ensures that her cocktails are not only fresh and high-quality but also environmentally friendly.

Even during high-demand events, both Pearl and Ishrat find ways to maintain sustainable practices. Pearl shares an example: “If I’m using the flesh of a mango for a drink, I often make syrup with the skins for another cocktail. Recently, I developed a recipe for PATRÓN that uses coriander roots for the syrup, and the leaves are dried and mixed with salt for the glass rim.” These small yet impactful practices ensure sustainability even during busy periods.

Ishrat adds that pre-planning menus to minimise waste and using eco-friendly tools and equipment are crucial. Even when making cocktails quickly, using sustainable ingredients and effective techniques is crucial. With no loss of speed or quality, we can remain sustainable by eschewing straws and making use of the entire fruit.

Both ambassadors agree that sustainability doesn’t mean compromising on flavour. Pearl explains, “A sustainable cocktail doesn’t mean compromising on flavour. It often means upcycling ingredients to use them to their fullest potential.” To preserve sustainability and quality, Ishrat emphasises the importance of knowing the ingredients. This commitment guarantees that the flavours remain vibrant and authentic while promoting sustainability.

Encouraging Industry-Wide Adoption Of Sustainable Practices

eco-friendly cocktails
Photo Credits: Canva

Pearl advises bartenders and beverage companies to look at sustainability from various angles. She recommends starting by using ingredients to their maximum potential. Fruit skins, for example, can be made into delectable oleo or fruit leather garnishes. She advises taking into account the way you use glass and paper bottles in your bar. She also highlights the importance of creating awareness among consumers. “We strive to involve consumers in our sustainability initiatives by passing on the message to our trade partners and consumers at every touch point,” she says.

Ishrat encourages a comprehensive embrace of sustainable practices. “Begin by minimising waste and exploring recycling options, such as composting. Identify major sources of waste and establish partnerships with compost companies to convert it into compostable materials,” she advises. 

Ishrat adds that educating bartenders is key to involving consumers. According to her, we can start a chain reaction by providing bartenders with sustainable methods and encouraging advocacy within their establishments. 

Ishrat recalled a sustainability initiative called #SkipTheStraw. The ad greatly decreased the amount of plastic waste produced by encouraging customers to enjoy their cocktails without a straw. Through this programme, they were able to lessen their environmental impact. They also encourage their clients to make more environmentally friendly decisions.

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The Future Of Sustainable Mixology

Sustainable mixology
Photo Credits: Canva

Pearl believes that mindful innovation will drive the next frontier in sustainable mixology. “Reducing plastic usage in bars and transitioning to glass containers and reusable materials is becoming crucial for bartenders,” she notes. Bacardi’s introduction of rice husk glasses at major events is a significant step towards sustainability on a larger scale. She also acknowledges the challenges in assessing environmental impact but remains committed to progressing towards a sustainable future.

Ishrat envisions a future where root-to-tip cocktails, sugar alternatives, and seasonal menus become the norm. “As more consumers pivot to making greener choices, the next frontier in sustainable mixology includes innovative offerings like zero-waste ingredients and fermentation techniques,” she predicts. This trend is likely to grow globally, with exciting possibilities on the horizon. Ishrat also highlights the potential of technology for measuring individual carbon footprints. 

Both Pearl and Ishrat have witnessed a growing consumer preference for sustainably crafted offerings. “Consumers are increasingly embracing sustainably crafted offerings, showing a willingness to invest in these innovative choices,” Pearl observes. Ishrat points out that 94% of consumers are now willing to invest more in sustainably produced spirits and drinks. “This demonstrates that sustainable mixology is not just a trend but a lasting movement,” she asserts. 

Their insights offer a roadmap for bartenders, mixologists, and beverage companies to follow, ensuring that the future of mixology is not only flavorful but also environmentally responsible. Cheers to a greener, more sustainable future!

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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