Greening the Bar

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke

Weekly insight into the world of drinks with Paul Clarke from the Cocktail Chronicles and Imbibe magazine.

When it comes to living an environmentally friendly lifestyle, the consumption of spirits & cocktails is a definite bump in the road. But as Jonathan Miles wrote in last Sunday's New York Times, there are a few bars and bartenders who are trying to step lightly when wielding the cocktail shaker.

Miles covered Bar 44 in Manhattan, which is trying to reduce its environmental impact by using regional ingredients for some drinks, including a micro-distilled gin made from organic ingredients in Philadelphia. But Bar 44 isn't alone; in San Francisco there's Elixir, certified green by the city and serving drinks made with organic spirits and mixers in energy-efficient surroundings. And like Bar 44 and Elixir, many establishments, especially on the West Coast, are sourcing fruits and herbs for their cocktails from local farms.

Of course, as Miles mentioned, it's one thing to crush locally grown cherries in a mixing glass and quite another to serve drinks that would completely fit in with the 100-mile diet: distilleries are few and far between, and many spirits are unique to their places of origin.

How challenging is it to enjoy spirits and cocktails in an environmentally sustainable manner? What can be done beyond simply using organic mint from the local farmer's markets in your next round of mojitos? We're looking for new ideas; what are yours?