Shrubs, and the Rise of Fermented Ingredients
These days everyone is talking about a clean environment and clean health – you’ve dropped the single-use plastics, bought your Uncle Len a keep-cup, and tried your yoga-mad friend’s kale and quinoa salad recipe, plus her homemade kombucha.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've likely seen Kombucha all over the place, but might not know what it is. Put simply, it's a fermented beverage made from tea and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
And it’s making it’s way into bars around the world.
Time for Tea
Why? Because fermented drinks are not only a great way of re-using bar waste (and therefore creating an environmentally sustainable bar) but it’s actually a fabulous addition to cocktail menus, adding fruit flavours, sweetness, acidity and even a slight fizz to drinks depending on the mix. Kombucha can be added to a long drink in place of soda water to add delicious complexity to refreshing cocktails.
Andrew Smith of Las Vegas bar, Atomic Liquors, says, that it is becoming common to see bartenders deriving flavor from ingredients usually wasted:
“We’re seeing more and more bars reducing waste and finding clever ways of using commonly discarded products, whether repurposing kitchen waste or looking at what’s commonly wasted at the bar.”
Waste Not Want Not
One of the most popular methods of introducing new flavours is ‘shrubbing’.
No, don’t get out your pruning gloves… the term comes from the Arabic sharāb which means ‘to drink’. Basically, it involves leaving fruit in sugar and water to steep the flavours and then adding vinegar, leaving it to mature into a syrup.
After several days you can strain the concoction and start to use it. You can even switch the fruit out for herbs instead.
Award-winning bar manager Niall Maurici uses left over lemon peels to create lemonade that is also ever-so-slightly alcoholic! With lemonade there are so many creations to be made – proving that flavours and recipes don’t have to be complicated to hop on board with the fermentation craze.
Bars go through a tremendous amount of citrus for fresh squeezed juices, which results in an abundance of peels that can be saved to make house-made lime syrup called oleo saccharum. This technique involves allowing granulated sugar to draw out and absorb the essential oils of the peel, creating a delicious and intensely flavoured syrup.
From Fermentation to Foraging
Alongside fermentation comes another DIY, back-to-basics trend that has made it's way to the forefront of food fashion recently - foraging.
With foraging, the possibilities are pretty endless, especially when it comes to Australian plants - sassafras roots here, a bit of wild ginger there, and all the while earning that cocktail after a hard day searching for bush tucker.
What’s more, it’s easy to incorporate fermented waste and foraged fruits into the bar menu when you have the right tools. When it comes to muddling those fresh ingredients, our ergonomically designed ProCrush ensures you use less energy and get a better taste from those bush treasures.
Add Some Difference to Your Drinks
And it’s certainly a trend to embrace, not just for the environmental aspects but also if you're looking to escape those run-of-the-mill cocktails. In Melbourne, Nick Tesar, of Lume bar and restaurant, says, they keep their cocktail menu traditional but like to get inventive with their creations by involving different ingredients, such as those you might forage or ferment:
“Shrubs, lacto ferments, barrel-ageing, rotary evaporations are just tools for creative expression and flavour enhancement".
Although it can seem that some trends are more of a fad and won’t hold the test of time, we think the use of foraged ingredients, fermented drinks and shrubs are here to stay.
To help you mix your best cocktail every time, check out our range of cocktail sets for bartenders.