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We’re a number of years into the sustainability thing in bars. It was around 2016 that the talk in bars and among the world’s best bartenders really took ahold of sustainability, before a pandemic-induced embrace of all things plastic, single use, and disposable took precedence as bars reopened from lockdowns and encouraged punters back to them, safely.
The issues around sustainability didn’t disappear, however. The ideas have matured, too, with less emphasis on citrus stock and sub-par Daiquiris. (Honestly — have you had a citrus-stock Daiquiri that tasted anywhere close to the real thing?)
There’s now a deeper understanding of the supply chain going on, and more creative use of ingredients saved from landfill (like the techniques put in place at bars like Re in Sydney). There’s also a look at what makes bars sustainable in the long term, and why great bars stand the test of time.
Those are the kind of issues I got into talking to Evan Stroeve — the award-winning bartender, and owner of the soon to open Sydney bar The Waratah — for this one on one live interview in Brisbane last month at Paramount Liquor’s Future Proof event.
Evan is someone with a great resume: he’s worked at Shady Pines Saloon and The Baxter Inn, ran the show at the much-missed Bulletin Place, and was on the opening crew at Sydney bar Re. He has been heavily involved in issues around sustainability and in addition to crafting delicious drinks, he is a deep thinker on all things bar and hospitality. I really enjoyed hearing Evan’s perspective on things, and I think you will too.
Below, you’ll find a few highlights from this episode, but the full length chat with Evan is worth a listen.
The Quotable Evan Stroeve
“You are working with covers.”
Evan isn’t confident that bars can ever really, truly achieve zero waste, simply because of the nature of the way the public views — and uses — bars. He says that restaurants like Silo in London have better success at eliminating their waste because they know exactly how many people will visit them each and every service. But, as he says, can you imagine having to book at a table service-only Shady Pines Saloon?
“You need to be able to look inwards.”
Evan talks about great bars like Shady Pines Saloon lasting the test of time because of the values that animate them — the bars are set up that way. Shady Pines today would feel very similar to anyone discovering the bar for the first time back in 2010 — but there has been change since those days. What remains, however, is that it’s still about whiskey, they are still peanuts strewn across the floor, it’s still a place for a raucous good time. That’s something new waves of drinkers will always want — timeless.
“Understanding your supply chain.”
There are some aspects to sustainability in bars that will save you money, and some that don’t, Evan says. But understanding your supply chain is something that will save you money. “When the produce is in season and in abundance, it is usually at its cheapest.” Simple, right? Evan also suggests talking to your providores about securing seconds fruit — it’s cheaper because it’s ugly and rejected by the supermarkets; the stuff still tastes great.