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Turning Trash into Cocktails

Two pioneering bartenders are taking the trash out of the bin and putting it into your drinks.

“Drink like you give a fuck.”

It’s always fun interviewing Iain Griffiths – you’re guaranteed expletives by the bucket load and an exhausting amount of passion for his industry. Today we’re also joined by Kelsey Ramage, one of the rising stars of bar world and Iain’s co-pilot for their next exciting adventure – Trash Tiki.

 Let’s just get this out of the way – we’re not talking about pond water being served in a coupette. And no, there won’t be a fish skeleton garnish to any of these recipes – well not today at least.

Trash Tiki is all about recognising the stuff we’re throwing away which could be used to make great ingredients across both food and drink. We’re talking infusing rum with roasted avocado pits and pistachio shells, blending old almond croissants into orgeat and finding a use for all those squeezed lime husks – of which bars produce an absolute ton.

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Croissants into orgeat

Why? Well no one likes trash, and the amount of wastage our restaurants and bars produce is truly staggering. A lot of venues in the UK don’t have proper recycling either meaning it all gets pushed into landfill.

“Bars are starting to take notice, but sustainability is still quite an industrial word,” says Kelsey. “ We went down to Silo in Brighton where they were talking about how much heart and passion sustainability takes, and thought this is great and bars should be doing this too. The next step was how to get the message out there, which is where Trash Tiki came from.”

Launching their website last Friday (October 28th) Iain and Kelsey are now preparing to take Trash Tiki global with their first target lined up as LA. Their rollout plan is simple; decamp in a bar or restaurant for a night and see what goodies are being discarded as trash – from the venue and even their neighbours. They’ll then work out recipes to use this stuff before popping-up in the space for the rest of the week pumping out delicious drinks.

But one night take-overs and pop-ups are not on the to-do list, because they create more wastage than anything else. If you want Iain and Kelsey to swing by and tackle your bar then you’ll have to put up with them for three nights at the minimum.

“Our frustration has been that no bar has gone full throttle with suistainability as a key conversational piece. As an industry we’ve spent long enough talking about bourbon and the ingredients for long lost classics – we know that stuff now – now we need to see the industry have more accountability,” says Iain.

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Trash Tiki cocktails

The two are worried that sustainability has gone from a buzz word to an industrial sentiment, but are hoping they can inspire others to copy their approach, rather than people thinking it’s just hippies or a trend.

“This is one project we want people to rip us off and imitate us and if they do it better then that’s amazing. Trash Tiki is the antithesis of every other bar and project – we want people to steal our shit. Take it and run with it,” says Iain.

Trashtikisucks.com will chart Kelsey and Iain’s progress as they expand the recipes and build the brand up. As they tinker away and discover even more uses for our rubbish they’ll be testing it alongside the usual ingredients in a drink, hoping they can make our Whiskey Sours even better.

Not just content with changing the way we recycle, the duo have their sights set on changing the way bartenders work and how bars and brands help each other.

“It’s about the big picture and making bartending a career and our bars more sustainable but we can’t immediately start talking about this in a big way – because it means an overhaul, people put their guard up and they’re scared,” says Kelsey.

So it’s with small steps that they’re heading out to change the world. After LA they’ll travel to Paris, Singapore, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Berlin and Tokyo spreading the message of Trash Tiki - drink like you give a fuck.