Two really cool things happen in July of every year: Latino Conservation Week and National Tequila Day (July 24). With that in mind, we were inspired to not only get our drink on, but to learn if there’s anything we can do to make our cocktail-making adventures a bit more sustainable. After all, we already do our best to practice sustainability when it comes to food, because as we all know planet Earth is in a dire situation and needs us all to do better, like…yesterday. Thinking about sustainability is a natural extension of what we’re already doing with regard to how we eat. So we turned to mixologist Veronica Correa and the folks over at iconic tequila company Jose Cuervo for some tips on how to create delicious tequila cocktails at home with sustainability in mind.
Whether you want to whip up our back-pocket healthy-ish margarita or another summery cocktail, these sustainability tips will help you imbibe more mindfully. Oh, and just for a good time, we’re throwing in recipes for three of Veronica’s tastiest tequila cocktail for you to try.
Use the Whole Fruit
At this point we should all know that waste is the enemy of sustainability. One major way to make your libations more sustainable is find ways to use the whole fruit. For example, when you make citrus-based cocktails use fresh fruit and use the juice as well as the zest, not one or the other. Other fruits can be pureed–some even with the skin on–and used as mixers for just about any spirit. Of course, using the whole fruit also adds more nutrients to your drink. Doesn’t make it healthy, but the vitamins and minerals are all there.
Bartenders and mixologists tend to often utilize flavor syrups in their concoctions. That’s because they pack a ton of taste, but have a much longer shelf life than fresh ingredients. That means the amount of waste is lessened, and it’s a tip that’s totally doable at home. Lots of different flavored syrup are available in stores and online, but it’s also pretty easy to make your own syrup and infuse it at home. Simple syrup is just equal parts hot water and sugar mixed together. From there, a quick online search can yield tons of ideas for different ways to flavor it. For example ginger, lavender and citrus syrups are all popular cocktail additions.
Grow It Yourself
“Grow easy herbs like mint and basil so you’ll always have exactly what you need on hand rather than buying a bundle of mint at the store and only using two mojitos worth before it’s time to toss it,” Veronica suggests, and we agree. Herbs are super easy to grow and it can be done whether you only have space for a small window box or can dedicate some square footage in your yard. Did we mention some herbs like mint come back on their own every summer? You can’t get more sustainable than that.
Switch Out Straws
You know how your favorite coffee shop doesn’t offer up straws anymore? If you didn’t already know, it’s because they are really bad for the environment. Plastic straws don’t disintegrate or dissolve, they just hang around forever releasing chemicals that pollute the earth. Even if you prefer your favorite fruity drink from a straw, we say it’s time to ditch them at home too. It’s an easy choice considering the environmental benefits. But, if you just can’t stand drinking straight from the glass, get your self a pack of sustainable straws like Jose Cuervo’s new biodegradable, upcycled agave straws, or reusable straws made of glass or silicone.
Prepare in Advance
“Ingredients like lime or lemon cordial can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to three weeks! This extends the shelf life whereas fresh-squeezed juice only lasts for a few days, but also makes it a breeze when the mood for a cocktail strikes,” Veronica explains. A cordial is basically fruit or fruit juice that is cooked down with sugar and citric acid. It’s very similar to a simple syrup except the flavorings are usually cooked and strained and the final product is a bit thicker.
Now for those recipes…
The Agave Cooler
Ingredients: 2 oz white tequila, 1 oz lemon cordial, 3-4 basil leaves, 2 oz ginger beer
Directions: Add all the ingredients, except the ginger beer, to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a Highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer.
Lemon cordial can be prepared using both the skin and the juice of the lemon and gives the fruit a longer shelf life, making it more sustainable than buying fresh fruit for every batch of cocktails.
Ingredients: 2 oz white tequila, .75 oz lime juice, .75 oz carrot leaf syrup, 2 slices cucumber, 3 slices jalapeño, 1 oz soda water
Directions: Muddle the cucumber and jalapeño in a shaker. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the soda water, and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice.
Simple syrup infused with carrot leaves has a beautiful green color that makes this cocktail vibrant and gives it something of a sophisticated herbaceous or vegetal flavor. Plus, you can use the carrots themselves for dinner!
Piña Old Fashioned
Ingredients: 2 oz añejo tequila, .25 oz pineapple rind syrup, 2 dashes bitters
Directions: Add all of the ingredients to a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with an orange twist or dehydrated orange wheel.
Nope, you don’t always have to throw out those pineapple rinds. They are full of delicious piña flavor and perfect for infusing simple syrup with so you don’t have to worry about the whole fruit going bad before you get to it.