Trash Tiki

19 Feb. 2018
Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths on a much-needed anti-waste fight

If you’re in any way, shape or form involved in the drink business, you’ve heard of Trash Tiki, the roadshow Kelsey Ramage (ex-Dandelyan) and Iain Griffiths (Lyan Goup) have put together to create more awareness around the environmental issues created by the bar industry. Over the last few months, they’ve travelled far and wide, serving drinks made with ‘waste’ and educating bartenders of very diverse circumstances, all in the name of a more sustainable cocktail scene. If you haven’t had the chance to meet them, they probably have a pop up coming up in your neck of the woods (if they do, you should go). If not, here’re a few things we’ve asked them to tell us about, in their own (eloquent) words.
'Zero-waste' or 'anti-waste'?
We often (mistakenly) get called zero-waste. The spirits industry comes with it's own inherent packaging issues that make a zero-waste bar impossible. Recycling is still waste, it comes with it's own set of problems. This is why we try to use words like, reduced consumption, anti-waste, end to single use, and creating multi-use ingredients. There IS one truly zero-waste restaurant (to my knowledge!) and it's in Brighton. It's the brainchild of Chef Doug McMaster. It's incredible, and the food is delicious. We use one of his quotes a lot: "Waste is just a lack of imagination".
Waste Harvest
We will ask the bar that we are doing the pop-up in to save anything they would normally throw away over the course of a weekend's prep. If it's not enough, or we need more variety of flavours, we will then go to other bars, coffee shops, or juicers to see what they might be about to throw away. After collecting, we have a look at everything and decide what cocktails we can make from those things.
For the majority of our tour, we ONLY used waste, everything besides the spirit, sugar and some acids, was made from stuff we collected. From now on, we also want to support local farmers, using the produce 2-3 times until it is fully used. Using locally sourced ingredients, while challenging sometimes, is a major way forward for the industry. It demands a new level of creativity and we are having a lot of fun with it. In Australia, we’re doing longer-term pop-ups, so we are afforded more time to work on drinks, and really look at using local spirits and produce - we are getting a beer produced from pineapple waste – and changing the way things are delivered to the bar.
Trash Tiki’s #1 Hit
One recipe that we use in nearly all of our pop-ups is a citrus stock. Nearly all bars that have a classic offering use fresh lemon or lime juice, and because they are only used for their juice, the husk normally gets thrown out. We have created a more shelf stable ‘stock’ out of the husks that we use as a replacement for fresh juice.
Strength in numbers
A lot of bars have made some small changes in their programs to reduce waste and consumption, but we definitely have gotten comments from them that the small changes might seem futile. What we always remind them of though, is that collectively we are making a bigger difference than we know! It's about getting these people to start talking to each other, to find out if they can use each other's waste, or just start a forum where they can share different ideas and resources to start making changes that they might not have been able to make on their own.
Money talks
We always have a slide at the end of our presentations that talks about the financial side of this whole thing. Actually, we had someone do a 'Pepsi challenge' with his Daiquiris - one regular, one with our lime stock, and one with half lime juice and half stock. The split one ended up being the winner! Not only did it add another layer of complexity by making use of the oils in the skins, it cut the amount of lime juice required in the drink by half. You're then saving the bar a lot of money over a month. We can talk about saving the trees and hugging hippies but when you bring it back to cash, that is when people start really listening, right?

As the tour has grown and gained momentum, we have definitely seen more and more that bartenders and bars are hearing what we're doing and incorporating it into their programs. They are starting to think about how many different ways they can use an item fully before throwing it out! It's really inspiring! Of course there are some cities that are embracing this more than others. In some cities, like Seoul, reusing and fermenting is something deeply ingrained in their food culture, but it hadn't quite made it over to the bar scene yet. There was still a big turnout to our seminar, and a lot of people asking great questions so they could start experimenting in their bars after!

François Monti

Cover phot: (c) Lyndon French