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People Are Making Cocktails Out of Trash

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Seeing the words "trash cocktail" on the menu at your next happy hour might freak you out at first. But if the mixologists behind the eco-chic trash cocktail movement have anything to say about it, you'll be seeing more drinks made from bar scraps like citrus peels and fruit pulp on cocktail menus.

"Trash cocktails" are just one incarnation of the eco-friendly food movement that aims to reduce food waste—an issue your mojito habit contributes to more than you think. "We noticed a massive amount of stuff getting thrown out. Lime and lemon husks would fill two bins every weekend night," say bartenders Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths, founders of Trash Tiki and the first champions of the trash cocktail movement. (FYI, here are 10 tasty ways to use food scraps.)

While working together at a bar in London, the duo got the idea to start using by-products from their craft cocktails to make inventive, sustainable sips. "The craft cocktail movement has created a culture of fresh ingredients, which is great, but also means that nearly every cocktail bar is throwing away the same things weekend after weekend. We figured we could make something out of it."

So it's not like they're digging scraps out of the garbage bin. Instead, trash cocktails aim to use whole ingredients—think citrus juice plus the peel or pineapple juice and the blended pulp or skin. "We took a look at the common stuff—lime and lemon husks, pineapple skins and cores—and thought 'yeah, there really is a use for that stuff,'" the duo said. "The rinds are amazingly fragrant and can be used instead of lemon or lime juice, or in tandem to get more complexity out of cocktails." They also aren't afraid to get weird, using avocado pits and even day-old almond croissants the local bakery would typically toss.

Trash cocktails also pack some surprising health benefits. "There is some nutritional benefit from ingesting the citrus peels—they're full of antioxidants," says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. You can also find other good-for-you nutrients like calcium, vitamin C, and bioflavonoids in the pulps and peels, she explains. (Of course, you're not going to see a huge benefit from the small amount added to an old-fashioned, but hey, we'll take it.)

The best part is that trash cocktails are totally DIY-friendly. One of the most versatile recipes is their Chopping Board Cordial, which is all about the lemon zest. Let it soak overnight in water, then strain and add a little sugar plus citric and malic acids (you can order them on Amazon). "Add this cordial to margaritas and you won't need to use as much lime juice, saving you the pain-in-the-ass of squeezing loads of limes before your guests arrive."

Chopping Board Cordial

Ingredients

  • Mixed fresh "offcuts" (this can include, peels, zests, bruised berries, mint stems, or leftover cucumber cuttings)
  • Water
  • Granulated sugar
  • Citric acid powder
  • Malic acid powder

Directions

  1. Weigh your offcuts and add the same amount of water.
  2. Cover and leave to soak overnight at room temperature.
  3. Strain out and weigh infused liquid.
  4. Add acid powders and stir until dissolved.
  5. Bottle and store cold.

See the full recipe: Chopping Board Cordial

 

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