COCKTAILS. Have I got your attention? Okay, how about, COCKTAILS MADE FROM OLD SPUD PEELINGS. No? Bear with me; it’s more exciting than it sounds – just a little bit of chemistry in the kitchen could result in you turning waste scraps of food into delicious cocktails.
But why bother? Well, the latest research has revealed that as a country, we throw away £494 billion of food every week. According to global campaign Stop Food Waste Day (which had its annual awareness day on Wednesday), if food waste were a country it would be the third largest greenhouse gas-emitting country in the world.
Also falling on the same week was Earth Day (April 22), an annual event raising awareness for environmental protection, and to celebrate the occasion with a little glamour, tequila brand Patrón (a company that, when I look further into it, has some persuasive eco-credentials, spanning from responsible farming initiatives to recycled packaging and community investment) decided to mark both occasions with a night of ‘conscious’ cocktails.
Lending a helping hand on the night was mixologist Walter Pintus, currently bar manager at eco-forward private members’ club The Conduit in London, and head barman Cameron Moncaster. Having worked in his fair share of bars and restaurants, he’s seen first-hand how, despite the best efforts of chefs, some ingredients always ended up going in the bin.
“Regardless of how much you try to cut waste in a kitchen, inevitably you can still end up discarding food,” he says. “These items have nonetheless plenty of flavour to deliver, and capturing this flavour gives you the opportunity to create some really distinctive and bespoke syrups and infusions.”
Before you start rummaging through your food bin and stuffing carrot peelings into a Kilner jar, Pintus recommends doing a little homework first. “As easy as it might sound, making cocktails using kitchen leftovers requires a little understanding of the natural properties and tasting profile of your ingredients as well as of some chemical and cooking processes.”
To make their signature Earth Apple cocktail (recipe below), for example, which makes use of leftover cappuccino milk, they add vinegar to separate the lactose and milk whey, adding a great acidity to the finished drink.
Other than that, the bin is your cocktail infusion oyster. “Unleash your imagination and creativity just as you would do when cooking. Try, mix and taste, and you’ll be surprised at what you can create – the key is to start simple, and work from there.”
Patrón have also partnered with Mr Lyan's Cub in Hoxton, Scout bar in Hackney and Eve in Covent Garden. The sustainable cocktail menus are available until July 15 at Scout, and will be permanently available at Eve.
Patrón Salt of the Earth
- 20ml Patrón Añejo tequila
- 5 dashes coffee grounds solution (recipe below)
- 40ml amontillado sherry
- 2 dashes orange blossom water
- 10ml agave water (agave water is one part agave syrup to one part water, but honey or simple syrup are good substitutes)
- Stir and serve over a cube of ice in a coupette glass.
Coffee grounds solution
- 200g leftover coffee grounds
- 100g salt
- 1 vanilla pod, split (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
- Combine the salt, coffee grounds and vanilla in a jar and leave for 24 to 48 hours to infuse.
- Once infused, add 200ml of hot water to dissolve the salt, and once cool, strain over a muslin cloth to get a clear, brown solution.
Patrón Earth Apple
- 20ml Patrón Silver
- 45ml Jerusalem artichoke-infused vermouth
- 10ml Bitter Bianco (An Italian liqueur made from bitter herbs, this can be bought here)
- 10ml of milk whey (recipe below)
- To make the artichoke-infused vermouth, add leftover Jerusalem artichoke skins to Martini Ambrato for five hours to infuse the vermouth.
- Stir together with the rest of the ingredients and serve over ice in an old-fashioned glass.
Leftover milk whey
This solution, which Pintus makes from leftover cappuccino milk, provides roundness and a kick of acidity to his recipe for the 'Earth Apple' white negroni.
- Leftover milk (Pintus uses leftover milk from making cappuccinos)
- An equal volume of white vinegar
- Heat your leftover milk until frothy. Once hot, add an equal quantity of the vinegar to your milk, and leave to separate. Once cool and separated, strain over a muslin cloth.
- 30ml Patrón Silver
- 30ml blood orange peel sherbet (recipe below)
- 20ml fino sherry
- 10ml saffron syrup (a few saffron strands infused in simple syrup; regular simple syrup will also suffice)
- 20ml soda water
- Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, and serve in a chilled champagne flute.
Blood orange sherbet
- 200g leftover blood, or regular orange peels
- 200g sugar
- 250ml orange juice
- Squeeze out as much of the juice from the peels as you can, before mixing with the sugar and leaving to infuse in a jar for 24 hours.
- After this, add the orange juice to dissolve the sugar, and strain.