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A trashy history: Tasteful, waste-free cocktails

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Out of many late-night conversations and increasing frustration around the waste created by cocktail-making, the unique anti-waste punk initiative—Trash Tiki—was born.  

December 2016, in the back room of Harvard & Stone, two award-winning bartenders, Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths launched their first pop-up. At this point, the couple had been working in the London, UK bar scene at world-renowned cocktail bars, Dandelyan and White Lyan. Chomping at the bit, they were poised for change and spurred on by something they had witnessed while working all over the world—wasteful cocktail making and mixology.

The more they talked about it to other industry professionals, the more they realized that they weren’t the only ones thinking that way. The world seemed ready for the opportunity to do better. Their Trash Tiki pop-up provided excellent food for thought. The experiment turned out to be very successful, although, as they like to remind themselves: “It was bad. The drinks sucked, the music was WAY too aggressive, and we opened very late.”

Then, in just one month, Trash Tiki grew from an underground pop-up movement, into a 10-month world tour that would take them to five continents and over 40 cities.

A Trashy History: tasteful, waste-free cocktails are now in Canada
Founders of Trash Tiki – Iain Griffiths and Kelsey Ramage

An international approach to waste-free cocktails

During this world tour, Kelsey explains that she and Iain demonstrated the changes that modern bars need to make to be more waste efficient and sustainable. The movement isn’t just about making cocktails out of waste; every Trash Tiki pop-up included an open seminar. They talked to bartenders and patrons about why reducing waste behind the bar is so important; and about how fun it can be!

I think the biggest thing everyone always wonders is whether or not we’ve gone rifling through a dumpster… we haven’t, just to clarify. – Trash Tiki

From ramen joints to high-end hotels and bars, the purpose of taking Trash Tiki around the world was to discover which flavours and ingredients different cultures were putting in the trash and teaching them how to divert that waste.

A Trashy History: tasteful, waste-free cocktails are now in Canada
Waste-based cocktails from Trash Tiki

With avocado pits they made orgeat and with pistachio shells they made aromatized rum, adapting to the type of ingredients they would find wasted along the way.

With time, they developed recipes, that, as Iain explains, “… allow the international community to see the breadth of potential behind the products we’re wasting every day.”

Trash Tiki 2.0

Kelsey and Iain have created a platform that bartenders and bar owners around the world can use as a source of inspiration, see trashtikisucks.com.

A Trashy History: tasteful, waste-free cocktails are now in Canada
Trash Tiki cocktail

Upon completing their travels, the couple felt it was time to settle down in their so-called favourite city—Toronto. “The scene here is buzzing and has been for a while. You’ve got a history and plethora of owner-operated venues, from Jen Agg’s cocktail bar, Grey Gardens and [restaurant] The Black Hoof, to Robin Goodfellow’s PrettyUgly Bar, [to Grant van Gameren’s] Bar Raval […] to Nick Kennedy’s Civil Liberties […]” explains Kelsey. Their list of favourite bars in Toronto is long, and it seems a natural progression for them to join the Canadian bar scene and community.

Their business needed to settle too. “You need to have the ability to work on your business, not IN your business,” says Iain. That’s why they launched The Trash Collective, a consultancy group for them to share their knowledge adapting it to the specific needs of different businesses. And perhaps because it is part of what they love to do, they also plan on opening not one but two bars in Toronto, to keep showcasing what waste-free cocktails look like but also how much fun it is to join the movement.

A Trashy History: tasteful, waste-free cocktails are now in Canada
Trash Tiki cocktail

It’s just about not throwing stuff in the bin, and [instead], considering whether there are other uses for it. – Trash Tiki

Their goal—back then and today—is to give everybody a chance to #drinklikeyougiveafuck.

Thanks to the Trash Collective team for joining us at RC show 2019 and for presenting the “86 Mocktails – A Guide to No/ Low Alcohol Alternatives, a trend that’s here to stay!” workshop.



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