As we all become more conscious about our impact on the environment, many of us are wondering how to make our tipples more eco-friendly. Here, Jordan Williams, Whisky Specialist at House of Malt, shares tips on how to drink more sustainably through 2022 and beyond.
Over the past few years, people have become more and more interested in how they can make their lifestyles and menus kinder to the planet. Research conducted in 2021 by Deloitte has found that consumers are more interested than ever in being eco-friendly, with 32% of people surveyed being very engaged in adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. This is translating into people’s buying habits, with 28% of respondents saying that they had stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns.
You might already be trying to make your groceries, clothing, or transport more sustainable — but what about your favourite alcoholic drinks? Here, I’ll share some top tips for keeping your drinks cabinet as kind to the planet as possible, without compromising on taste or quality.
Use seasonal ingredients
One of the key things that we can all do to ensure our food and drink is more sustainable, is to use more seasonal ingredients in both our beverages and our cooking. Out of season products are more likely to be imported, using energy to transport them. Or they may have been grown under heat lamps, which also uses more energy than growing them in fields. So, when you plan out your cocktail menu, it’s helpful to keep the extras and mixers seasonal rather than opting for exotic ingredients.
Top seasonal drinks for the winter months include cider, which can be made from British apples that are harvested late into the year. There’s also mulled pear and cranberry punch, and mulled gin, which can also use seasonal produce. You could also try a hot spiced buttered rum, which only calls for spices and a sweetener such as honey. For garnishes, try to use British-grown plants and herbs that are abundant throughout the winter, such as juniper berries or rosemary, both of which are perfect with a G&T.
Drink local brews
It might surprise you how much good quality beer, ale, and cider is in fact being made in your local area. Instead of heading to a bigger shop to procure quality ales, try looking for local breweries. Many of them will be making much higher quality beverages than the ones you had planned to buy, and they come with the added benefit of having a much smaller carbon footprint because they don’t need to be shipped from further afield. Your favourite independent pub may also have links with local breweries, so you could purchase beers, ales, and ciders that you have tried before and enjoyed.
Choose British brands
As well as looking for local breweries, you can also try out some British wines and spirits. While you might not be able to purchase everything you want from local businesses, you can find lots of high-quality wines and spirits across the UK. For example, Scotch whiskies are among the best in the world, and there’s an increasing number of renowned British vineyards producing sparkling wines that can rival champagne in terms of quality.
This not only reduces the carbon footprint of your drinks cabinet, but also supports British brands, and will allow you to discover some new favourites. Check the packaging on the beverages you’re buying, and look for a note saying where they are made.
Drink apples instead of grapes
Traditionally, most wines tend to be made from grapes, while many spirits are distilled from grains. However, drinking alcohol made from apples is much more sustainable than opting for grape-based drinks. It’s also more eco-friendly than choosing drinks that are made from grains. This is because growing apples means planting more trees, which in turn provide habitats for pollinating insects.
Apple trees are also easy to grow throughout the UK, meaning that many apple-based drinks can be made entirely within Britain, without needing to expend energy importing ingredients. Cider, brandy, and even vodka can all be made from apples, so check the ingredients on bottles before you buy and try to purchase more drinks made from this beneficial crop.
Buy drinks with less packaging
One of the easiest things you can do to make your drinks cabinet more sustainable is to buy beverages that have less packaging. If you can find products that come in a fully recyclable glass bottle, this is a better option than alcohol that is presented in a box or any other additional wrapping.
The same goes for mixers, garnishes, and fresh ingredients. So, look for mixers packaged in recyclable cans or glass bottles, rather than plastic, and buy loose fruit and herbs without plastic packaging or shrink-wrap where you can.
A delicious glass of wine or an expertly mixed cocktail is one of life’s pleasures, but increasingly, we want to ensure it’s sustainable too. So, by following these pointers, you can create a home bar that’s both enjoyable and kind to the planet.