One of the main trends I predicted for 2018 is that people will eat with their conscience. The drive behind the vegan trend and the push to remove the insidious reach of plastic straws all comes from a wish to consume with their ethos not just their eyes. The farm to fork trend has seen venues investing in local suppliers and even growing their own ingredients when available. This has made the short hop skip and jump to behind the bar.
What is Garden to Glass?
Garden to glass or closed-loop cocktails are all about minimising waste. This is a factor in every process and can see a reduction in the miles your food has to travel and a decrease in packaging that ingredients arrive in. It is also concerned with using the entirety of a product, and creating a menu to reflect that. If you have a cocktail that uses lemon juice, then finding an alternative use for the rind ensures nothing is wasted and helps you towards your greener principles.
It is also often tied into seasonality, especially for venues trying to encompass a taste of their local area. While this may mean you have to put aside your imported pineapples, it also gives you an opportunity to rediscover some of the great flavours the UK has to offer as well as the unusual ‘hedgerow flavours’ like rosehips and nettles.
Why is it seeing such support?
While in 2018 people still want to treat themselves, it won’t come at the expense of their morals, and thus we are seeing so many craft businesses thrive because they have green credentials and a nod to sustainability. This means customers are more discerning and are unafraid to ask the provenance of the gin, mixer and garnish in the glass.
The Millennials and Generation Xers are also a far cry from the free-spending Baby Boomers and opt for quality over quantity. It has taken a while to adjust to this thinking, especially since the 80’s which became dubbed as ‘the decade of capitalist greed’ but now some businesses are channelling Antoine de Saint Exupery’s famous quote:
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Who is creating garden to glass cocktails?
Now this sort of green ethos may seem at home in Portland, Oregon or at a beach bar in LA, but there a couple of bars in London and Brighton that have taken no waste and closed cocktails to a new level. Scout in London began their green expedition by trying to source all their ingredients in the UK, now they try not to throw anything away. For example, egg whites may be a typical cocktail ingredient, but the yolks rarely feature, instead of the yolks going in the bin, they make their way into one of the restaurant's dishes. Matt Whiley, the brains behind Scout, told the Metro:
“Since we’ve got further into it all we literally don’t put anything in the bin now until we’ve exhausted every way we can possibly use the ingredient.”
Scout is not alone, Cub is a collaboration between some of the biggest names in hospitality and sustainability and this restaurant is dedicated to making people question the fine line between food and drink. With a set menu that provides some food courses, some drink courses and some a mixture of the two, it bundles up all of its ethical ethos in an interesting concept.
Silo may be further out of London, but the Brighton based eatery that describes itself as a ‘Pre-industrial food system’ is worth the travel. Its menu may be spartan but the restaurant has a clear drive for environmental change, with all the fixtures and fittings in the premise upcycled, an affiliated brewery nearby and a removal of food miles, over processing and packaging in order to be truly sustainable.
So where does this leave the everyday cocktail drinker? If sustainability is important to you, then enjoying an evening at a venue that offers closed-loop cocktails should not compromise your green ethos and yet still be a palate pleaser. I believe garden to glass cocktails will be popping up more frequently, but it is up to the discerning consumer to hunt them out.