drinks on you

DRINKING FOR THE IMPACT

The bars we love are thinking more critically about the waste of imbibing.

WRITTEN BY MICHAEL MOBERLY
PHOTOS BY CANDICE NYANDO

whispering 1
Michael Moberly, the spirits program director at Whispering Vine, is passionate about cocktails

Bartending, like all things in life, is the pursuit of small solutions to small problems. While sometimes small problems require gigantic solutions, in bartending, our problems generally are easy to solve: “Thirsty? Here, have a drink! Look at us great problem solvers!”

However, as the world gets smaller, or rather as our view of that world becomes larger, the problems in bartending, here and around the world, seem to get larger as well. One of these is waste. The ecological footprint bars leave behind in our communities is being discussed and examined more than ever. The water we use, the bottles we toss, and even the straws we take out of our vodka sodas to leave on the bar top have an impact on the world we live in.

Today, bars, communities, and brands are making efforts to reduce the waste from their tippling. Seattle’s citizens have voted to remove straws from their community. Bacardi has launched an in-house initiative to remove straws and stirrers from cocktails at company events.

Paper straws

Locally, many bars have joined this fight. Andrew Johnson, lead bartender at Chapel Tavern in Reno, explained that the folks at Chapel have done their best to address sustainability in a number of ways, from auto-off faucets to reusable coasters that are more works of art than tossable trash.

“As a team of environmentally conscious bartenders, we always are brainstorming ways to lessen the impact of our footprint as a business,” Johnson explained.

Bartenders are making such efforts their personal missions and finding ways to protect the environment while creating unique and beautiful sips. Take Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths from Trash Tiki in the U.K., for example: This traveling duo has toured all over the world spreading the gospel of using what normally would be tossed out at the end of the night to make delicious tiki drinks.

“We seem to find inspiration in ingredients that we find inside the bars that we work with, plus we are now looking toward local ingredients to find new, interesting ways to use those ingredients multiple times before we are through with them,” Ramage says. “We find that by putting an end to single-use ingredients in favor of using things multiple times, and in interesting ways, we get more complexity of flavor, and it saves money in the long run!”

The most important thing to remember is that each task is as important as the last. For every bar that keeps sustainability in mind, we get closer to keeping our waste out of landfills. For every guest who asks for a strawless drink, we save our bar tops from being literal wastelands. Together, small solutions can make great impacts. So keep one of my favorite toasts in mind: May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far.

Michael Moberly is the spirits program director for Whispering Vine Wine Co. and a local spirits educator. His 10 years in the industry have been spent learning, loving, and imbibing with some of the best minds in the industry, both locally and nationally. He also is extremely good at wearing hats.

Drinks On You is a monthly radio show hosted by Michael Moberly on 97.7 KWNK FM, featuring conversations with local bartenders and the music they love. For details about the show and its schedule, visit Kwnkradio.org.

Resources

The technology for papers straws is by far the best it’s ever been. Gone are the days of the limp paper straw. For details, visit Aardvarkstraws.com.

For more details about the movement to do away with straws, visit Thelastplasticstraw.org.

Trash Tiki is on tour now! For details, visit Trashtikisucks.com.

From left, Jan Solberg, Brenda Horton, Susan Hamarlund, and Sue Higgins of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Fleet Reserve Association serve muffins to veterans at Carson City’s Veterans Memorial Hall

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