As we are in the midst of planning the NYE festivities, we wanted to share some great tips on how to create more eco-friendly drinks and garnishes.
Check out the following ideas from @treehuggerdotcom:
Anybody can uncork some wine or crack open a beer, but serving a cocktail takes some thought and imagination. Choosing the perfect cocktail to serve is a great way to set the mood of the party.
Use organic liquors when you can
More and more organic spirits are coming on the market, but actually finding them in your local store is not always easy. Vodka seems to be the most commonly available of spirits, which is great for you because so many terrific cocktails have a vodka base. Producers of organic spirits often make smaller batches and some retailers are reluctant to carry a product that they cannot guarantee will always be in stock. Ask your local purveyor or spirits about stocking organic products. They won't know you want it if you don't tell them.
If you are lucky enough to have distillers in your state or even region, it may make more sense to buy their products. Some producers may not be "organic," per se, but some distillers are making ecologically sound efforts in their business practices. For example, Maker's Mark installed a waste treatment system which allows them to recycle their waste stream and creates renewable energy. 360 Vodka has a paper reduction policy in place, uses compact fluorescent light bulbs and green cleaning supplies and has a significant recycling program in effect. And, even if your local distiller doesn't actively engage in green practices, having it shipped across a state or two sure beats the entire country and whole globe, for that matter.
Try to choose cocktails to fit in with your locale, and local, seasonal offerings. Take advantage of local fresh fruit juices and herbs in your summer drinks. Rather than make a traditional Screwdriver with orange juice, try a recipe that highlights a fruit that grows in your area such as grape or raspberry. In the winter time use fresh cranberries or mull some apple cider. If you are making a coffee-based drink, use organic dairy products and Fair Trade, organic coffee for those warming treats.
Use green garnishes
Try using a pickled green bean, pickled onions or even a hot pepper in your martini instead of an olive or lemon peel. Fresh fruit such as raspberries and blueberries in the summer and cranberries in the fall and winter look beautiful floating in a cocktail glass. If you want to sprinkle a little chocolate over top over your Irish Coffee, be sure make it Fair Trade and organic.
Make your own cocktail mixes
If you see a margarita mix in your grocery store, resist. There are lots of mixes and pre-mixed cocktails out there on the market, but that doesn't mean you have to buy them. Making your own cocktails from scratch ensures that you know that the freshest, healthiest ingredients have gone into them, without preservatives or chemicals. Using fresh juice leaves you with pulp and skin to compost. Using mixes leaves you with unnecessary packaging to dispose of. Not only that, if you are using organic alcohol, you have a premium product. Messing it up with overly sweet mixes just seems wrong, doesn't it?
Make your own spirits and liqueurs
If you're up for a bit of a kitchen adventure, or you just can't find it, make your own booze. I had a bit of a conundrum because I am a gin drinker and I could only get organic vodka. So I did the next best thing and made my own. The key, or course, to making gin is procuring the juniper berries. Then you can play around with the other ingredients until you have a recipe that appeals to you. Add the juniper berries to a bottle of vodka and let it sit overnight. In the morning add the rest of the ingredients. At the end of the day, strain the botanicals from the alcohol and voila! You have a bottle of really delicious gin. And the best part is, your guests will be astonished that you made it. These recipes for Irish cream and Kahlua-style coffee liqueur will help you stock your bar DIY-style.
Try making your own non-alcoholic drinks (or additional mixers)
Making exciting, tasty, non-alcoholic beverages is fun, and even making a carbonated replacement to sugary soda isn't as hard as you think. In addition to the selection of sparkling mixers (like soda or tonic) and fruit juices I recommend you have on hand for cocktails, why not try something like ginger ale? I have tried the gin recipe, but I haven't tried this recipe for ginger ale, so I can't personally vouch for it. My suggestion would be to give this recipe a trial run before you try it out on guests. And be fairly warned: if you aren't careful, it could make for exciting explosions in your kitchen, too.
Reuse or recycle empty liquor bottles
Square One Vodka comes in a beautiful bottle that can be reused as a vase, or filled with shells as a decoration, or used as the age old candlestick holder. Other bottles that don't do as well doubling as vases should definitely be recycled according to your local recycling guidelines. In general, try to buy glass rather than plastic; it can be recycled infinitely, while plastic has a more limited lifespan. Stay away from bottles that have been etched, as a handful of nasty chemicals are required for that process. Companies like 360 Vodka use recycled paper and vegetable inks for their labels.
Be a responsible guest
Cocktails are significantly higher in alcohol than wine or beer, so be careful how much you drink. When you have a martini you know you are having a h2 drink, but other cocktails often have lots of fun tasting ingredients that mask the strength of the alcohol. Intersperse glasses of tap water or fruit juice between alcoholic drinks and be sure to partake of any nibbles that your host is offering. Barfing isn't green, so, please, enjoy your favorite cocktails responsibly.
Be a responsible host
As mentioned above, cocktails are h2! Set a time limit for cocktails and then stop serving them. Always have non-alcoholic drinks available for those who are driving or biking, or who just want to slow down a bit. It is essential to offer food to guests who are drinking alcohol. Simple crudite and dips or chips and salsa are great at a cocktail party. If your party is going longer into the evening, more substantial fare may be appropriate.