Mixologist column: Cheers to the environment

What are some of the things that we are throwing away in the bar? As we started to examine this, our team was surprised by the number of items that we could (with a little creativity) find further uses for, thereby rescuing them from becoming rubbish. Enough, in fact, to produce an entire menu centered on reducing waste such as spent coffee grounds from an impressive number of espressos; the pits of avocados from our weekly taco Tuesday menu; the peels of bananas; pineapple husks; the tops of strawberries; loads of pulp from our juicer; and even the cooking water from chickpeas. These are all now being revived as interesting cocktail ingredients. I believe this challenge has helped us to create
some of our most interesting concoctions yet. Each week we ask ourselves how we can squeeze the full potential out of every ingredient, and we are reminded that the classic cocktails books we spend our time reading were written with the same effort. Somewhere along the line, we became spoiled by accessibility to pre-made products all nestled in branded plastic packages, and we forgot that many of our needs can easily be produced with items from our local market.

I am so proud of the food and beverage community in Yangon, for their recent efforts in raising awareness to sustainable practices. Many have joined the ‘Straws Suck’ movement, and we have been privy to many discussions for what can be done next. To continue this brainstorming session, we will host Mark Lloyd of Bootlegger Trading Co. in Bangkok, who specializes in zero waste cocktails. He will teach a master class on the subject on April 27 at Union Bar and Grill, followed by a guest shift behind the bar. Call us for a seat in the class, join the discussion, and help progress this amazing movement!

Jen Queen is the bar manager for restaurant and bar group 57-BELOW, and mixes the cocktails at Union Bar and Grill. She is an expert in her field and the only Master Mescalier in Yangon and quite possibly the only one in Southeast Asia.

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