In Food + Drink

The London Bartenders That Made Waste-Free Cocktails Cool

The London guns will be creating a “Trashfort” in Melbourne.

Ever spare a thought for your orange peel which has gone straight from last night’s Negroni and into the nearest landfill? Bartenders Iain Griffiths and Kelsey Ramage clearly did, which is why the decided to launch Tiki Trash.

The concept behind Tiki Trash is a simple one: make tasty tropical cocktails, play lots of punk, have a good time, and challenge us to rethink what ends up in our bins.

When the two of them began Tiki Trash, Griffiths and Ramage had an impressive list of accolades behind them and they had both worked in bars across the world. More recently, Griffiths co-founded London’s Dandelyan, which regularly tops lists of best cocktail bars in the world, and where Ramage also worked as head bartender.

Tiki Trash, is a global mission where Griffiths and Ramage pop-up in different bars and make cocktails from ingredients normally considered waste. Don’t know what to do with all those avocado pits from a steady stream of brunches? How about turning them into an orgeat syrup?

Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths of Trash Tiki Photo: Steven Woodburn

It’s a concept set to challenge both bartenders and drinkers to rethink how they use cocktail ingredients, while also injecting some much-needed good times into the conversation around sustainability.

After nearly 18 months, Griffith and Ramage are approaching the end of a tour with one of their final stops being Australia. Tiki Trash has held events at bars across the country, with this leg of their journey including their longest pop-up today: transforming Melbourne’s The Beaufort into “Trashfort” for two weeks. Ramage says having a permanent pop-up – despite being only a fortnight long – has been a welcome change.

“We really wanted to do something a little bit different,” Ramage says. “Most of our parties are one or two days but we wanted to have fun and blow it out since we are coming to the end of the tour.”

The Australian-leg of their tour also includes a series of dinners across the country as part of World Bartender’s Day. The events give Griffiths and Ramage the chance to work with chefs to use native ingredients in their cocktails, which Ramage says is a new idea for the pair.

A Trash Tiki concoction Photo: Steven Woodburn

“We use everything from bars mostly, but we really didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to work with Australian ingredients,” she says.

“We’re going to be working with chefs too, we’ll have whisky drinks paired with food from each venue. A lot of the restaurants here are really into local ingredients, so that was a big reason for what we are doing.”

Having spent well over a year bringing their unique take on cocktails into bars across the world, Ramage believes bartenders are working hard to cut waste.

“It’s been really good, we’ve seen some of the bars which we’ve been to – and even some we haven’t – that have taken our recipes on board and started building their menus different.”

But for people to really rethink waste, Ramage suggests change can’t just come from the professionals, which is why Tiki Trash has always been an open sourced concept.

Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths of Trash Tiki Photo: Steven Woodburn

“I think that’s our next phase of it all,” Ramage says. “The conversation has been so much around getting bartenders to do it, and they are usually the influencers over what people drink [at bars] and in turn what they drink at home.”

Tiki Trash’s website is designed to push the conversation out into the wider world and includes guides to waste staples like citrus stock or watermelon rind cordial. Yet Ramage says work can still be done to encourage people to rethink how they make drinks at home.

“We’ve done recipes which are super easy to make at home and which are made with ingredients that can be made around the house as well,” Ramage says, before adding what else is in the future for their approach to sustainability.

“We’re also going to be branching into a lifestyle side of it all. So that can take the recipes on board and make the drinks at home but, you can also take on this anti-waste mentality with other parts of your life.”

(Lead image: Trash Tiki/Facebook

Published 13 February, 2018