London is home to countless unique restaurants but, in recent months, one common characteristic has been flourishing in particular: sustainability. It’s an ethos we cannot (and should not) escape, and is playing a huge part in influencing both restaurant menus and where we choose to eat. Thankfully, farm-to-fork, nose-to-tail, zero-waste menus are causing a celebratory stir, and, thanks to the talent of the capital’s chefs, our dining habits aren’t suffering. But for a lot of places, the principles of sustainability end at the dinner table, as creating a drinks menu with the same kind of ethic is far from simple.
But London is home to some of the world’s most innovative and creative culinary minds, and slowly but surely, sustainable methods are finding their place at the bar as well. Here, we highlight some of the most exciting sustainable bars in London serving up drinks made in some of the most extraordinary and inventive ways. A word to the wise, however: while you may be able to sip guilt-free, we can’t guarantee you’ll wake up hangover-free as well…
Nipperkin Bar, Mayfair
Housed in the lower ground of 20 Berkeley in Mayfair, Nipperkin is a speakeasy bar which, like the restaurant above, offers menus led by British produce with a focus on sustainability, local produce and making the most of the best quality ingredients that British soil has to offer. Created by bar manager Angelos Bafas, the drinks list is a showcase of the flavours that can be achieved by using fresh ingredients and alcohols sourced, harvested and distilled in the UK, including some that are distilled in-house. Marvel at the unexpected British ingredients, from English sake to Cambridgeshire padron pepper liqueur and even Essex saffron. The Grown From These Lands menu includes the Fig & Honey – a mix of Devon rum, Essex fig brandy and London honey soda – but the standout creation, recommended by Bafas, is the Aged Kelp, which includes two types of whisky, aged kelp distillate, roasted Kent hazelnuts, cacao and fresh Norfolk mint.
20 Berkeley Street, W1J 8EE, visit 20berkeley.com
Dover Yard, Mayfair
Dover Yard is a cosy, chalet-style bar located in the recently-opened five-star sustainable address, 1 Hotel Mayfair. Bar director Matteo Carretta has curated a menu that not only entices with refreshing and innovative cocktails but shines with his conscious approach via responsibly-sourced seasonal ingredients and locally produced British spirits. The team prides itself on its use of old-style preparations, slow infusions and maceration – processes that take more time but allow the bar to use less energy whilst intensifying the flavour of every ingredient.
Dover Yard also works in harmony with the hotel’s operations to find ways to repurpose potential waste. For example, the hotel’s used coffee grounds are rested with sugar to oxidise before being pressed to create a rich coffee treacle, which is then used in cocktails. A particular favourite is the Pain Brioche, a signature twist on the whisky sour created with leftover pastries from the hotel cafe mixed with a British dram and garnished with a tiny salted croissant.
1 Hotel Mayfair, 3 Berkeley St, W1J 3JZ, visit 1hotels.com
Fallow, St. James’s
If Fallow wasn’t already on your radar, allow us to introduce you. Already praised for its sustainable credentials when it comes to food, unrestrained efforts have been put into creating a bar menu guided by the same principles, focusing on British ingredients and a hyper-sensitivity to minimising waste. The team utilises surplus produce from the restaurant and processes such as clarification to extend the life of ingredients, including milk and yoghurt, meaning they can be used in the ever-evolving cocktails. The bar has also replaced plastic entirely, opting to use glass for both storage and preparation.
The pièce de resistance is the Oyster Shell Martini: the process starts with cleaning and pasteurising oyster shells from the restaurant, which are then infused in Belvedere vodka. The mixture is strained through a cheesecloth, resulting in a remarkably clear vodka base. To this dry vermouth, green grape juice, and jalapeño brine is added, creating a well-balanced, mineral-rich martini with a spicy finish.
52 Haymarket, SW1Y 4RP, visit fallowrestaurant.com
Eve Bar, Covent Garden
Located underneath his Michelin-starred restaurant, Frog, Eve Bar is chef Adam Handling’s first stand-alone bar and operates with the same no-waste principles as the kitchen above. Menus are derived by working in synergy with the restaurant to ‘unlock the flavour potential’ of would-be waste products. The team uses molecular techniques, like carbonating and centrifuging, to make waste ingredients such as peels, leaves, stalks, and pulps suitable for high-quality cocktails. This all happens in a glass-fronted laboratory, allowing guests to watch the team showcase their zero-waste techniques.
Demonstrating this forward-thinking, sustainable method is the Truffle Hunter. Offcuts of the English truffles used in the restaurant are combined with Cornish butter and English brandy to create a deeply flavoured alcohol. The mix is then cooked in a water bath and the butter taken back out, leaving alcohol for drinks and butter for the restaurant to incorporate into its signature dishes – a full circle of sustainability.
34 Southampton St, W2CE 7HF, visit evebar.co.uk
The Shed, Notting Hill
The Shed restaurant was the first London outpost from the Gladwin Brothers, who promised to bring a slice of the Sussex countryside to Notting Hill in the most sustainable (and sensational) way. A no-waste, hyper-seasonal ethos is at the forefront of everything they serve, including the drinks. Every cocktail uses British ingredients that are wild, foraged or locally grown, meaning that menus and methods are led entirely by the ingredients that are available.
The spirits and mixers are also sourced from eco-conscious British businesses. The Shedspresso Martini uses Black Cow Vodka, the world’s first pure milk vodka made by a family in West Dorset, which lends itself perfectly to the classic drink. If you’re having a night off from the cocktails, then the Nutty Wild sparkling wine, from the Gladwins' family farm and vineyards in West Sussex, is an absolute must. Plus, every few weeks a new seasonal ‘daily loosener’ cocktail is introduced, such as December’s cranberry, limoncello and hibiscus gin Holly Jolly, so there’s always something new to try.
122 Palace Gardens Terrace, W8 4RT, visit theshed-restaurant.com
A hyper-seasonal, low-impact vegan restaurant in the heart of Hackney, Edit.London takes its name from the ‘act of altering to improve’, making it a mission to challenge the traditional but wasteful practices that dominate the industry while still delivering an elevated drinking and dining experience. Every drink on the menu is made using ingredients sourced from British producers or natural/organic producers within Europe who operate with the same sustainably-led ethos.
Fresh ingredients are shared between the kitchen and the bar, ensuring that no peel or pip ever goes to waste. The House Pickle Martini has gained something of a cult status, but it’s the Very British Negroni, made with sustainable Hepple Gin and vermouth from British small-business Londinio, that caught our attention. If you’re a vino fan, the wines on tap come in returnable and refillable kegs, which reduces glass use, wastage, and energy, meaning any drink is a good drink here.
217 Mare Street, E8 3QE, visit edit.london