1 year ago

Reducing Waste Behind the Bar

By Simon Kistenfeger  @the_real_vikingo

Simon Kistenfeger has been a part of the hospitality industry for over a decade
*Simon Kistenfeger has been a part of the hospitality industry for over a decade. He started his bartending career while he was an orderly in the German military. From there he moved to stations in bars all over the world, from Australia to Norway and Colombia, winning several cocktail competitions along the way. Simon loves to travel the world and immerse himself in different cultures, which fits perfectly with his position as Altos Global Brand Ambassador. Additionally, he is co-owner of an event company, involved in MUCHO AMOR café & bar in the south of Germany and runs a consulting agency where he educates and shares his passion for sustainable bar practices all over the world.

There are so many opportunities to help protect the environment from our pivotal place behind the bar.

Proper training on the correct use of a jigger and control of the free pour technique, for example, are easy ways to help avoid waste in the form of spillages and wrong drinks. I’m convinced that if we educate our staffs on the correct pouring technique and providing the best possible service, we can save everyone time and money, as well as unnecessary waste. 

We all know the most common things to end up in the trash cans in bars are cardboard, food and glass. Separating trash and recycling is imperative, though sadly still does not happen in many places in the world. We need to spread the word and share our tips throughout the industry.

Stopping to waste food is another pretty easy fix. It’s disturbing how many ingredients get thrown away instead of landing in our guests’ drinks. Knowing how to properly store fruits and veggies is key. Basically, we can freeze them, store them in the fridge or keep them at room temperature; but learning which way is best for which food is important.

Reduce Waste with Correct Food Storage 

Reduce Waste with Correct Food Storage

Expiration Dates: What Do These Terms Really Mean?  

  • Use-by date: the date after which food is no longer deemed safe to eat by the manufacturer. 
  • Best-before date: the date the manufacturer puts on its products to ensure you eat it when it’s in its optimum conditions. 
  • Sell-by date: is the date by which the shop needs to sell the product. 

Tips for Storing and Using Expiring Foods

  • Store herbs in glasses filled with a little cold water and keep them in the milk/bottle compartment in the fridge. You can also chop and freeze herbs in ice cube trays or reusable bags. 
  • If you are not going to use your ingredients within 6-8 weeks, keep them at room temperatures in closed glass jars. 
  • With high-risk foods, be cautious: we don’t want to waste food but it’s not worth risking illness. 
  • Check questionable food and beverages carefully by looking them over well, and most importantly, smelling them.

Simple and Useful Hacks in Your Bar

Fresh fruits to use in Altos Tequila cocktails
  • Utilize fruits by preparing purees for future use. This saves time and prevents fruits from spoiling.
  • Keep avocados, bananas, kiwis, mangoes, tomatoes, oranges, pears and peaches at room temperature on the countertop. Make sure to place the pineapple upside down to ensure the sweetness will be equal throughout the whole fruit.
  • Don’t forget to wrap the stems of bananas with plastic wrap to slow the ripening process. 
  • Properly washing fruits and veggies following this simple process will remove 98% of bacteria: fill the sink with water, add one cup of vinegar, add fruits or veggies and let them soak for ten minutes. Be sure to submerge all stems as well. 
  • Use non-toxic cleaning products. You can simply create your own using household vinegar and the zest from any kind of citrus fruit. 
  • The same goes for your spirits: keep the right products refrigerated, such as wines, fortified wine and syrups.
  • Keep in mind that temperatures vary within different compartments of the fridge.

Good Practices at the Bar

Use the leftovers of infusions and turn them into a garnish
  • Organize your bar. “First in, first out” will reduce mysterious leftovers. 
  • Avoid wasting energy during your shifts. Be sure to turn off unused lights.
  • Allow ice to melt down in containers, then use the water for watering the plants in the bar. 
  • Plastic waste harms our environment massively. Studies show that soon we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish! Switch to glass bottles with a deposit system and say goodbye to plastic straws forever.
  • Always choose local, seasonal fruits and herbs when possible. While reducing the carbon footprint, this also guarantees the freshest, tastiest ingredients. A cocktail is only as good as its weakest link.
  • At the end of the night, turn all your open sodas into tasty syrups. That works for tonic water, cava and any other sparkling wine as well as juices, beer and red wine.
  • The peels of almost all fruits and vegetables have more flavor than the inside. Remember to use it all, just like our grandmothers would use every part of a vegetable in her stews. 
  • Use the leftovers of infusions and turn them into a garnish. 
  • Use hibiscus leftovers for example, infused them with tequila, add sugar and bake. 
  • Infused coffee beans work perfectly as a garnish for your killer espresso martini.

Careful inventories help us keep track of each and every item used. That leads to smarter ordering of fewer supplies and reducing disposal costs because there is less waste. 

Highlighting and celebrating these great ideas and initiatives with our guests further spreads the awareness. Sharing on social media to inspire colleagues helps too.


Start now! Implement these simple but useful practices to stop waste behind the bar.