Aisling Gammill of Water Bear Bar in Boise ID sent over tons of strategy for various sustainability improvements. Below are Gammill's tips.
When to Use Acetic (Vinegar), Malic, and Other Acids
Vinegar makes the best acid replacement. It is used usually in smaller amounts ex. .75 lemon is standard per cocktail, vinegar is more like .25 to .5 depending on the type of vinegar. I find that vinegar can make a wonderfully delicious sour, Daiquiri, Collins, or champagne topped something. It is a matter of balancing the acid, and not treating it necessarily like citrus when building.
It is also best in all sorts of savory libations. If there is a vegetable in it, vinegar will taste better. Vinegar should be added a la minute for a fresh flavor, otherwise it will pickle stuff and chemically change the entire flavor so batching is not recommended unless you want a shrub or pickle flavor.
Malic acid is actually really wonderful for adding a cream like note, without using milk. Malic acid is good in savory drinks like bloody Mary where a "cheezy" note is good. It is usually added to drinks in dashes.
Acid phosphate is a perfect citrus substitute too. It works great if citrus is unavailable or citrus would not make sense, but a bright tang is still needed, like in a stirred cocktail or a creamy cocktail. Acid phosphate is usually used in dashes when added to cocktails. 1-2 dashes is all you need. I have used acid phosphate in a wonderful sloe gin-coffee-champagne beverage.
Increasing Citrus Juice Yields with Hot Water Soak
We soak our citrus in hot water before juicing which yields more juice so we use less fruit. Soaking in hot water and using a Sunkist (even though it is more flavor intensive) has been the best method that I have found for best juice yield.
Citrus Juice Lifespan
A great deal of juices can last more than a day depending on how it is juiced and how it is treated. I have found that most juice will last 3 days as long as it is kept on ice during service and cold at all times. Juice however, changes flavor everyday. It is up to the bar program to teach palate training so that they can balance cocktails no matter what. For example, lemon juice tastes more sweet day 1 and more sour day 2, so the bartenders have to dial in the balance everyday.
"Trash Tonic" with Spent Citrus
I have been using spent citrus to make "Trash Tonic" for a couple of years. I have tried several methods:
Hot method where you take all your spent shells and cover with water. Add gentian, bay leaf, peppercorns, pinch salt, and any other spices you like i.e. cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, etc. Simmer covered on low heat for about 1 hour then strain off the liquid. Weigh and add an equal weight sugar to dissolve & 1 oz. Of vodka per quart to stabilize so that the tonic lasts longer. This yields a transparent perfume tonic.
The cold method is the same, but build in a cambro and let soak 24hrs. Then vitamix and run through a nut bag. And weigh, add sugar, and vodka to stabilize. This will yield a "milkier" more bitter tonic.
Mix the syrup with soda for awesome hippie tonic water or keep the syrup as is and use as the sugar component of any sour sour drink with whatever spirit you like.
Use Leftover Curds from Milk Punch
This can be strained into a slightly thicker soft cheese and can be flavored savory or sweet, either with honey, bee pollen, & spices for a fruit & cheese plate; or with fresh herbs for savory soft cheese.
It can be used to make artichoke dip or as spread for a caprese grilled "cheese."
It can also be dehydrated into cheese powder for popcorn topping or you can mix spices and make your own crack ranch base.
Uses for Fruit and Vegetable Pulp
I haven't met a pulp that couldn't be used for something.
- Veggie and fruit pulp can be combined to make croquettes or fried dumpling fritters.
- Pulp can be processed into fruit leather.
- Savory fruit pulp can be pureed and processed into veggie chips.
- Fruit pulp of all kinds can always be dehydrated in to flavor powder for instant custom salts or sugars
- Vibrant veggies like berries or beets make a beautiful powdered garnish.
- If you have a vibrant pulp like beet, carrot, ect you can also blend the pulp with water, fine strain and make fun ice to go with whatever cocktail that special juice goes in, because why have boring ice, when you can make it fun?
Banana Peels as Bittering Agents
Banana peel is one of the best bittering agents ever!
Put banana peels in a container, cover with vodka (or whatever spirit you're into depending on how it will be used) and walk away. No fancy prep or nothin'. Leave it in a sealed container out at room temp for 3 weeks (or whenever, tinctures take on max flavors after 3 weeks and after that it just kind of freezes in time so there's no rush to decant stuff on a particular timeline) and filter through a nut bag or coffee filter. You can use this stuff as the bitter base for your own bitters, house vermouth, house amaro, whatever.
Maraschino Cherries - Why Not to Make Your Own, and Using the Syrup
We don't make our own, Luxardo does it right. We could, but it's not worth the labor involved.
(We are in a) region with fresh cherries, but the problem is that cherry season is short. You would have to make, can, and store a whole year's worth in about 3 weeks. Aslo it takes about a month for candied/pickled goods to peak, so basically a cherry program is a 2 year investment: 1 year to troubleshoot all the recipes, wait & taste. Then you would have to wait 1 year for Cherry season to come around again & you would have to pounce and can all the cherries with no production mistakes, and then you wouldn't even know if it was viable nor not until you could taste which would likely be after cherry season ends.
Leftover Syrup: We make a 3:1 syrup out of it at Water Bear and use it all the time, usually in Old fashioned or Manhattan-esque drinks.
Egg White Alternatives
Specific ingredients I have found that make a wonderful foam and texture naturally are:
- canned coconut milk (especially with fizzes)
- fresh pineapple juice (or fresh pina blends)
- any starchy veggie juice like corn, peas, or carrots, coffee
- Angostura bitters (when used as a main spirit a la Trinidad sour style)
How Long Do Egg Whites Last?
"Egg white if kept cold at all times will keep for 5 days. (that's the national food safety standard, the actually keep more like 7-10, but in a commercial setting you can only keep for 5)"
Recipe for Sesame Orgeat and Tahini from the Leftovers
Seasame Seed Orgeat:
Yield: about 1 qt
1000g sesame seeds, untoasted
1500g filtered water
Combine, cover, and soak overnight at room temp.
Next day: Vitamix everything and then strain through a nut bag. Collect all of the "mylk" and weigh, add an equal amount of sugar and stir to dissolve. Add 1oz vodka per qt to stabilize.
Also, the stuff in the nut bag is Tahini! That can be used in just about everything. Seasoned and served as a tasty spread on a cheese or charcuterie plate, used in salad dressing or vegan aioli, hummus, it can be made into g.f. cracker crisps, or sweetened into desserts, or made into flavored crisp garnishes for whatever drink the syrup was for, it could even be mixed with sugar to make a "marzipan" dough that could be shaped into any number of silly things that could be used as garnish like a flower,nor a little teddy bear, or a snake, or tiny citrus fruit, whatever really.
You Can Freeze Syrups
Most syrups with fresh ingredients that we have a surplus of, we vacuseal and freeze so that they taste the same as the moment they were made. Fresh syrups like raspberry or ginger.
Freezing Leftover Garnishes Into Ice Cubes
I like to freeze leftover cut garnish into ice molds usually to make highballs fun.
Reducing Disposable Napkins as Drink Coasters
We use reusable crocheted doilies for cocktail service instead of bar naps. we still have disposable bar naps, but the amount we go through is extraordinarily less. The doilies are washable and start to unravel after about 6 months or so or heavy rotation. Some discoloration and sometimes it looks like a nice patina, otherwise its splotchy and we have to take those out of rotation.
It adds a lot of value to the experience, bev naps are terrible and they look terrible. The con is a lot more gum stuck under tables.
Coasters are awesome, just never use anything that you wouldn't want to get stolen. They will get stolen. Tiles are probably the best because they are cheap and you can just toss them in the dishwasher.
Smart Straw Use Depending on the Cocktail
I like to think of straws as a kind of garnish. Drinks served over crushed ice or blended need to have a straw, but other than that we do not serve straws. They are available by request.
The key to alternative straws is using a variety depending on what is appropriate for the drink. My favorite are bamboo, but I think logistically it does not make sense to use reusable straws. Especially, in the post COVID world, it is way too much work to make sure that reusable straws get properly cleaned in entirety everytime.
Bamboo straws are the best. Bamboo loves water so they will stay strong and it is naturally antimicrobial. The down side is that they are spendy and people steal stuff. I use them at home, but would not professionally. All reusable straws bamboo or metal have to be presoaked in a dish degreaser type solution then individually scrubbed out on both sides with a tiny pipe cleaner tool then they have to be run through a dishwasher or 3 compartment sink. Then they have to be rinsed again making sure that the insides get rinsed thoroughly, then soaked in sanitizer, and then allowed to air dry. It's exhausting just writing about it.
That being said, there are so many single use alternatives. Eco products make straws from corn, there are straws made from agave fibers, avocado pots, hay straws, bucatini (pasta straws), rice noodle straws (Gluten Free), and even a company (loli) making colorful edible straws from seaweed. The down side is that they are still a little spendy which is why it makes sense to just not use straws in general unless it is as a thought out, meaningful garnish or by request.