Organic Spirits and Liqueurs: Is a there such a thing as a “Healthy Cocktail?”

Cocktails that are created with care for the earth will show your guests' you care for their well being!

Cocktails that are created with care for the earth will show your guests' you care for their well being!

With public health awareness at an all time high, and a recovering economy that is shifting focus back on the environmental movement, more and more bars are making an effort to go green with their daily business practices for a handful of reasons. Organic ingredients are popping up at every turn, in fact more than 75 different types of Organic Spirits, Liqueurs, Wines and Beers are available in most provinces.

First of all, it’s important to identify the difference between a green cocktail and the absurdity of the healthy cocktail. Ordering up a beverage made with green tea liqueur is not going to earn you any points in the antioxidant cup. Organic Spirits, Wines and Beers are becoming more and more popular, new companies are jumping on the organic bandwagon, others have been quietly producing organic and sustainable products for decades. Do organic ingredients in a cocktail really make a difference? Are they any healthier for you? Aren’t cocktails are supposed to be a little bit naughty anyways?

To answer this question, we made three cocktails, one completely organic, one made with non-organic spirits, citrus and sweeteners, and one in the fashion commonly employed by most bars in operation in Canada today.

The cocktail of choice was a Tom Collins, made three ways:


It starts with the understanding that serving organic cocktails can yield a higher sale price, offsetting increased costs of production. To that end, operating a sustainable bar or restaurant is easier than you think, not to mention the opportunities to both save money and increase margins. Making each business decision with both your client’s health and the environment in mind is rewarding in many ways; socially, economically and environmentally.

Fresh, organic, seasonal, local and sustainable are really just a part of a much larger picture, that involves every business decision you make, from the light bulbs you choose, (there are now dimmable Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs which use up to 75% less energy and can create ambiance) to the cleaning products you use, and how you separate your waste. Here are some things you might consider when developing your next menu or consider bringing organic ingredients to your bar.

Fresh is pretty self explanatory, and if you haven’t tasted the difference between a fresh cocktail and the one that comes off your post mix line try it out and you’ll never go back. It’s like the difference between handmade pasta with fresh tomato sauce vs Chef Boy-ar-dee. (No offense Chef)

Organic Under organic production, the use of conventional non-organic pesticide (including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides) is precluded. However, contrary to popular belief, certain sprays and other materials that meet organic standards are allowed in the production of organic food.

Local means supporting business within 100kms, making a decision against importing bottled water from the other side of the world when the largest supply of clean fresh water on the planet is at your doorstep. Developing relationships with the folks at your local farmers market can inspire on both culinary and beverage fronts.

Seasonal ingredients is about using peaches on your menu when peaches are in season locally, not when peaches are in season in Argentina. When your kitchen is making Peach Cobbler, your bartenders, who should be thinking about themselves as Bar Chefs, should be making Peach Daiquiris, or peach Mojitos. The bridge between the kitchen and the bar should be shorter than ever.

Going the sustainable route is not the easiest, but it is becoming increasingly accessible. You just have to ask, and you can believe that the more people who ask, the more accessible it becomes. Businesses that make the commitment can expect to be rewarded with a loyal clientele and the few pioneers of the Green Bar philosophy will attest. San Fransisco’s “Elixir” was one of the first Green bars to open. H Joseph Ehrmann (known simply as “H”) walks the talk of fresh fruit cocktails made with organic, and/or environmentally responsible products. Green and Tonic ( is doing the same and taking it to the next level. It is a volunteer group which consults with bar owners to help them find solutions to reducing their waste, energy, and water consumption. The feel good “X” factor of supporting a green business is something that will have your clients talking to their friends, and your commitment to excellence will bring them back again and again in larger numbers. Fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable can no longer be looked at as options, but rather as the business decisions that make our restaurants and bars sustainable businesses as we move into a new economic environment.

Though organic wines and beers have steadily multiplied over the past few years, the number of organic spirits is increasing at a slower rate. The main reason most spirit producers haven’t marketed organic products is because there is a negligible difference between alcohol distilled from organic grains or fruits versus conventional crops. It’s interesting to note that there are now organic spirits available in almost every spirit category and with each category a reason to purchase and consume organic products despite negligible chemical differences. You might reason it by pointing out that there are no genetically modified ingredients that go into organic spirits, or perhaps because organic producers treat the earth that they harvest their crops from with a little more respect.

When you step up to the bar and order your next drink, what should you be ordering?

Vodka – Square One Organic Vodka- is trying hard to cut a greener figure, using organic rye for its vodka and sporting a square-shaped bottle (which means a lower CO2 profile).

Gin –Juniper Green Organic Gin – The ingredients are Organic Juniper, Coriander, Angelica and Savory. Botanicals carefully chosen to be enhanced by the smooth Organic Spirit distilled
from Organic Grain.

Rum – Papagayo Organic Rum – Organic Sugarcane is crushed and the syrup extracted for fermentation. The fermentation lasts 36 hours until the syrup has reached the ideal levels of purity. The pure fermented syrup is then distilled in traditional stills into rum.

Whiskey – Highland Harvest Organic Scotch Whiskey is aged in oak barrels for 4 years and blended in Scotland from three organic grain malts.

Tequila – 4 Copas Organic Tequila – 4 Copas Blanco is about as close to the agave as you can get. The blue agave is estate grown, organically certified and tested for peak sugar content individually before harvest.

As operators, managers, and staff, we have the ultimate power to choose what is offered for sale, how it is offered for sale, and how we’re going to clean it up. While many of us diligently separate food waste, from recyclables and garbage at home, few of us pursue these socially responsible actions with the same vigour when we’re working in the hospitality industry. I’ve been guilty of it myself and I’m sure you can relate to the feeling that you should recycle an empty water bottle but when no recycling bin is present, it ends up in the trash. While many of us want to recycle, few of us have taken proactive steps towards putting a recycling / food waste program in place.

The truth is that respecting the planet, being good to our bodies and making money do not have to be mutually exclusive. After all, we don’t really need to “Save the Environment,” it was fine before we were here, and it’ll heal itself after we’re gone. We really need to save ourselves.

This entry was posted in Proper Service, Raising the Bar, World's Best Bars and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.