Published on May 7, 2020

It’s time to reconsider the possibilities of your food waste. You’ve collected your carrot and celery scraps to make vegetable stock, and maybe you’ve even used your coffee grinds as an exfoliator in a pinch. Now there’s a new option to try: consider the trash cocktail.

As The New York Times reports today, a new cookbook spearheaded by Claire Sprouse, owner of Brooklyn bar Hunky Dory, is full of drink recipes contributed by bartenders around the country, all of which make good use of kitchen scraps. The first volume of Optimistic Cocktails is available now for $15, with all proceeds going to participating bars and undocumented workers’ relief funds.

Though a “trash cocktail” might be the perfect drink for this moment (it helps you to stretch your groceries even further and makes for a delicious 5 p.m. treat), it’s not a totally new trend. People have fermented food scraps to make alcohol since ancient times, and more recently, bartending duo Trash Tiki, Iain Griffiths and Kelsey Ramage, made headlines in late 2019 for their waste-based beverages.

There’s no shortage of ways you can turn what might be considered trash into a happy hour treasure. Here are just a few ideas to get inspired by; you can download Optimistic Cocktails for the full recipes.

Infuse Your Liquor

 

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Trash Tiki’s mai tai uses rum infused with pistachio shells, the Times reports, but there are lots of other possibilities. You might be familiar with bacon-washed bourbon, but bartender Ivy Mix uses a different leftover to give this spirit an extra-savory twist: roast chicken.

Use Your Peels

 

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All that banana bread you’ve baked has left you with plenty of peels—so you might as well put them to good use. Bartender Kim Stodel pairs them with some cinnamon in a syrup, while Brooke Toscano turns them into a tea.

Make a Syrup

 

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Whipping up a simple syrup (with just water and sugar) is hardly an advanced cooking technique—so why not amp it up with some scraps? Syrup recipes in Optimistic Cocktails include bell peppers, onions, herb stems, and more—all perfect for giving your drink an herbaceous kick.

It’s hammer time: Follow @reno_notebook for easy rental updates, clever DIYs, and tips to nail your next project.

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