Virtually every aspect of a functioning bar has room for optimization in terms of sustainability.
As we gear up for a brand-new year we reflect on the past and make a commitment to do better for ourselves and our surroundings in the future.
Every day, environmentally conscious mixologists are uncovering new ways to take as much pressure off our planet as humanly possible. For instance, three SoCal bartenders are currently employing the practice of integrating waste-eliminating garnishes (specifically dehydrated versions) into their cocktails for a sip that is both beautiful and a part of a smarter, more sustainable bar operation. For these pro mixologists, a dehydrated dragon fruit slice or upcycled strawberry scrap serves a far more noble cause than an aesthetically pleasing cocktail.
We follow three west coast bartenders at some of the top bars in the area to find out how to garnish more sustainably. Our final bartender in the Behind the Garnish series is Claire Sexton of San Diego’s Kettner Exchange.
Bar Manager, Claire Sexton
Kettner Exchange, San Diego, CA | Labyrinth
Talk to us about your waste-free garnishes at your bar.
We use as many dehydrated and waste-free garnishes as we can. Having a dehydrator in-house is key and helps produce less waste.
Why is it important to create a more sustainable program at your bar?
I think it is our duty to be as environmentally friendly as we can. Dehydrated garnishes also offer so much more control over consistency. They tend to be cleaner and much easier to store long term.
Give us some tips for using waste-eliminating garnishes.
If you are juicing pineapples, use the top prawns as a garnish!
No more slimy citrus garnishes! We use a deli slicer to thin our lemon and limes, then toss them in our dehydrator. Keep them dry and sealed, and they will have a sturdy shelf life.
Story Behind the Garnish
Labyrinth, playfully named after the classic 1986 fantasy film, is a fruity sip with a dehydrated dragon fruit garnish from Kettner Exchange’s own dehydrator. Made with dragon fruit-infused gin, manzanilla sherry, and rhubarb, which gives the drink its vibrant color, the cocktail offers a subtle and soft flavor with a kiss of sweetness. Kettner’s Bar Manager Claire Sexton’s first move behind the bar was to move over to dehydrated garnishes, employing waste-reducing techniques. Not only does the dehydrator save money and time, but it stops the waste of lemons, limes, and pineapples.
- 1 1/2 oz dragon fruit gin
- 1 oz manzanilla sherry
- 3/4 oz lemon
- 3/4 oz rhubarb simple
- Blood orange bitters
Preparation: Combine ingredients in rocks glass with pebble ice. Garnish with dehydrated dragon fruit.