Drink Like You Give A Damn
Sustainability is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about boozing. But drinking responsibly doesn’t only mean not throwing up on the way home. The world of food and drink has embraced eco-friendly principles in a big way. If you don’t know about sustainable cocktail bars, it’s about time you did.
The list of five venues we’ve assembled here includes four bars plus one alcohol-free curveball. All take their work seriously: minimising waste and finding innovative ways to create delicious drinks while reducing their impact on the planet.
This is not simply about enjoying yourself with a clean conscious. The challenge of reducing waste forces booze engineers to think differently, pushing boundaries and creating new flavour combinations in the process.
There is one person who stands out in the sustainable cocktail scene. Mr Lyan, AKA Ryan Chetiyawardana, who pioneered waste-free cocktails. His original bar, White Lyan, is now closed. But never fear. We’ve included his two more recent incarnations in the list.
Nine Lives exists, in the words of the founders, ‘to do some good in the world’. Located between London Bridge and Tower bridge, it’s run by the founders of the Sweet&Chilli drinks agency.
The menu focuses on turning out sublime sustainable cocktails then giving the ingredients a new lease of life (hence the name Nine Lives). Lemon pith is distilled into essential oils for soap, spent coconut oil becomes candles, other natural waste is used for compost in the bar’s garden (where, of course, they grow many of their ingredients).
ninelivesbar.com, 8 Holyrood St, London SE1 2EL
In an age when much of the food on the shelf of your local supermarket has travelled half way around the world, it’s easy to forget that British produce is some of the best there is. Thankfully the founders of Scout haven’t forgotten. They champion the finest of native ingredients to create tantalisingly inventive drinks.
The menu, which changes daily, includes beverages conjured using bee pollen, roasted parsnip and bacon bourbon. The foragers, farmers and growers that supply the necessaries can be found as nearby as Brixton, Bethnal Green and Essex.
scout.bar, 93 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3HZ
Once upon a time this was the White Lyan. Then, at the height of its popularity, Mr Lyan closed it. But stem those tears: the venue has been reinvented. Upstairs is Cub, masterminded by Doug McMaster, the brains behind Silo, the UK’s first no-waste restaurant. Downstairs is Super Lyan.
Dimly lit with comfy booths, it’s an easy place to lose an evening working your way through the menu, which is arranged by flavour profile—fresh, fruity, rich, sour, and so on—and includes a sustainable cocktail made with Guinness. Clever drinks, great flavours, and at under a tenner a cocktail, good value too.
superlyan.com, 155 Hoxton St, Hoxton, London N1 6PJ
This place will have some people throwing up their hands with glee, while others will be running for the nearest boozer. Redemption is a vegan restaurant with a sugar, wheat and, wait for it, alcohol-free menu. The first branch in Notting Hill proved so popular they opened one on Old Street.
Now, before you gag, we’ve included this one because the mocktails are pretty impressive. Try the espresso remolacha, a booze-free take on the espresso martini, made with espresso, beetroot juice and date syrup.
redemptionbar.co.uk, 320 Old St, London EC1V 9DR
Seems a bit unfair to have two venues from one guy in such a short list. But what can we say? Mr Lyan is smashing it. Dandelyan is a very different proposition to Super Lyan. Occupying a prime spot in the rather smart Mondrian hotel, this is one to book ahead and dress up for.
The slick servers will guide you through the botanical-themed menu, which is a masterclass in attention to detail, then you can people watch and sip sustainable cocktails until you reach a state of bliss. Look out for the tequila concoction accompanied by chargrilled blue corn.
dandelyanbar.com, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD
We hope you enjoy sampling the delights of London’s best sustainable cocktails bars. At home, you can apply similar responsible principles when you whip up summer cocktails for your pals. Much as you might buy locally sourced or organic food, you can do the same with booze. And just like the bag-for-life is replacing seagull-choking throwaways, you can avoid products that use excessive packaging. Buy from suppliers who are doing the right thing. Then tell everyone you know.
Now let’s race a glass to the future of the human race. Because let’s face it, if we don’t do something about the looming ecological apocalypse, we’re screwed.