Two bartenders are trying to change the way bars think about waste — one drink at a time.
Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths founded Trash Tiki, and have been travelling all over the world with their pop-up bar, using ingredients that would normally be thrown in the garbage to make creative cocktails.
Ramage and Griffiths spent Sunday and Monday nights mixing in Toronto on their tour, hoping to spread a message of sustainability in a fun way.
"We roll into a city and see what that bar is producing with waste, and start making new ingredients," Griffiths said. "We are kind of starting that conversation that not everything needs to be trashed right away."
In each location, the cocktail connoisseurs usually come up with the menu within 24 hours after seeing which ingredients they have access to when they arrive. Often, they say, surrounding businesses like cafes and restaurants will get involved when they hear about the initiative.
"You look at what people normally use a lime for, and it's to squeeze it once, make a daiquiri and that's it. We just thought there's so much more flavour you can get out of those things," Ramage said.
The couple met while working in award-winning cocktail bars in London, England. They came up with the Trash Tiki concept after seeing how much waste was being produced from a bar that already had sustainable initiatives in place. Their aim is to be "zero waste," they say.
"If every bar can make that 10 or 20 per cent difference, that's a real movement and that will be a big reduction in the consumption of what the cocktail industry goes through," Griffiths said.
'Cocktail bars need to set the standard'
When bartenders at LoPan heard the duo was coming to Toronto, they jumped on the opportunity to host them.
Tyler Newsome worked with Griffiths in the past and heard that his sustainable initiative had grown. He says it's important for cocktail bars to pave the way in the service industry when it comes to reducing waste.
"I think more than any other bars, cocktail bars are really the ones that need to set that standard for everyone else," Newsome said.
The Trash Tiki founders said some of the bars they've visited have since made become more mindful of their waste, noting one bar in Chicago that developed a whole drink menu using waste from their food menu.
Cocktails passed the taste test
The cocktail menu has included ingredients like coffee grounds, avocado pits, almond croissants and fermented pineapple. Customers told CBC Toronto that the cocktails were delicious, and you would never know they were created from unwanted ingredients.
"I think examples like this where we're making cocktails out of food waste is a really good way to show people we don't need to waste food," said attendee Emily Alfred.
The drinks also used bamboo reusable straws.
The world tour continues
Trash Tiki is currently on a tour around the globe, visiting 32 cities in nine months. They're ending the tour in Vancouver in 2018. Along the way, they post recipes on their website to show people that being sustainable is something you can do at home.
Griffiths says he hopes their tour has an impact on the way people think about waste.
"I think everyone inherently cares about the damage we are doing to the world around us and any little difference they can make is a positive one."