By Jennie Wong
Bars may not be the first place that come to mind when we think about sustainability, but surprisingly, the bartending industry can do a lot towards creating a positive impact on our environment.
This February, Food Made Good HK, joined forces with Pernod Ricard, gathering bartenders and bar managers at the Pernod Ricard Offices in HK, for a fun and engaging look into – “The Bar World of Tomorrow” sharing creative and surprisingly pragmatic tips on how to run a bar more sustainably.
Themes ranged between 8 different areas, from brand knowledge and curation, sourcing fresh ingredients, responsible service, single-use plastics, waste management, saving water and energy to ice management and creating a culture of well-being.
Sharing Creative Ideas in Running a Sustainable Bar
Workshops first kicked off asking bartenders and managers about their sourcing experience with suppliers.
The packaging situation is “pretty bad in Hong Kong.” – Pawel Mikusek from the Pawn
“Everything is tripled wrapped.” – Thomas Guedon from Bedu
Despite the sometimes discouraging situation in Hong Kong, some bar managers managed to persuade their suppliers to change their packaging practices. Workshop discussions revealed how bars were able to get creative when working with unused ingredients. For example, bartenders from the Pawn use mint leaves only and give the remaining parts to the chef for cooking. Zuma, the contemporary Japanese restaurant, plants their own lemon trees, while Bedu uses lemon peels for cleaning to reduce the use of cleaning chemicals.
Passionate discussions were followed by knowledge quizzes where participants formed groups and were tested on their knowledge learnt.
Bartenders sharing their own practices in working with unused ingredients
Exploring Sustainable Cocktails
To diversify the workshop style and format, the brand ambassador from Pernod Ricard demonstrated how to create sustainable cocktails.
Luca from Pernod Ricard introducing how to create a sustainable cocktail
More Tips on Sustainability and Thought-provoking Discussions
In the afternoon session we broached the ever present issue of waste management. On upcycling and extending the value of waste, Justin from Petticoat Lane shared that their bar would put used coffee grounds to use in ashtrays to remove cigarette smell, while Prince from Zuma revealed that their restaurant would eliminate waste by using ecoSPIRITS, the world’s first low carbon, bulk, and low waste spirits distribution technology brand. By purchasing spirits in bulk the bar will reduce their use of single use bottles, and save time on ordering.
Other topics on waste and ice management focused on environmental costs, and the economics of sustainability also arose, touching on bar revenue and on how tricky it is for bars to find the balance between serving filtered water or the more lucrative bottled water and whether producing crushed ice or cubed ice consumes more energy.
In the last section of creating a culture of well-being, bartenders and bar managers engaged in a mini activity by doing a prioritisation exercise about work-life balance, equality and diversity etc.
Bartenders doing a prioritisation exercise on the topic of well-being of staff
In a Nutshell
Hong Kong has long been criticized for its apathy towards sustainability. However, it was evident in the workshop that bartenders and managers genuinely care for a more sustainable bar future.
Prince from Zuma expressed that the workshop was “something cool that I’d never thought of doing”.
Food Made Good will continue to engage with different stakeholders from across the foodservice sector in order to support a more sustainable food system in Hong Kong.