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Last Updated on 29/12/2020
From an Italian Negroni to a French Kir Royale, Europe is home to a classic selection of cocktails. But, although the nightlife scene may not be everyone’s cup of tea when they travel, it may come as some surprise that a single drink can have quite an environmental impact on the planet. One glass, with its throwaway lemon wedge, exotic spirit from far away and eventual washing up hits more than your head and your wallet of an evening.
Luckily, cocktail bars are starting to become increasingly more eco-conscious and making some pretty special concoctions while they’re at it. So, from foraging for their own ingredients to saying sayonara to the plastic straw, here are 5 cocktail bars in Europe that are changing the way we drink without compromising the planet or our tastebuds, cheers:
Europe’s top 5 most sustainable cocktail bars
What: Bisou is a real pinnacle of Parisienne elegance. A pitstop for those seeking a sustainable tipple, it prides itself on creating bespoke cocktails tailored to you.
Why: Bisou (‘kiss’ in French) is very much an ode to Paris’ ‘city of love’ nickname with its millennial pink interior, cascading floral bouquets and an impressive-looking marble counter. Add a glamorous looking cocktail to the mix and it’s an Instagrammer’s paradise. Looks aside, Bisou sets the bar high (quite literally) by making sustainability the cornerstone of its brand. All syrups and juices are made in-house out of local and seasonal produce. Every part of the fruit and vegetable is used and any leftovers are dehydrated to make deliciously edible garnishes for future cocktails. If you’re looking for a plastic straw you won’t have much luck. In support of all ocean critters, Bisou has replaced plastic straws with metal alternatives. Bisou is a must for anyone looking for a sustainable Parisienne cocktail bar.
What to try: Determined not to be your average cocktail bar, Bisou doesn’t have a single menu in-house. Instead, guests are invited to go straight to the bar and order whatever their heart desires (within reason). If like me, you tend to be indecisive, highly skilled bartenders are on hand to help you create a cocktail that suits your taste for a truly bespoke experience.
Where: 15 Boulevard du Temple, 75003 Paris, France
What: Scout is a true east London hangout and a champion of the zero-waste approach. Its ever-changing seasonal menu has created quite a buzz on the world’s stage.
Why: It’s not for nothing that Scout has been named the 28th best bar in the world. Staying true to its motto, ‘Live Off the Land’, Scouts ingredients are sourced from local British farmers, grown on-site or foraged locally – an impressive bounty of wild Mirabelle plums, sorrel and berries are regularly sourced by resident forager, John Poacher. Similar to Bisou, every bit of the plant has a purpose at Scout whether it’s distilled, dried or brewed. Perishables, in particular, are pickled or fermented in their prime to make crisp and flavoursome wines that can be enjoyed throughout the year. Scout, with its Scandi-chic interior, passion for zero waste and wizard-level cocktail infusions, is one of Europe’s most sustainable cocktail bars you won’t want to miss.
What to try: Scout’s cocktail list is more a celebration of science than of booze. Its menu is subject to seasonal changes but past cocktails have been the likes of Sweet Potato Highball with pineapple weed, sweet potato, tequila, Norfolk heather honey and soda and S’More Ramos, with Scotch whisky, caramelised cream, waffle cone cacao, cherry bark and sparkling wine.
Where: 224 Graham Road, London, E8 1BP, UK
READ MORE: 7 Ways To Be an Ethical Traveller
What: Oslo’s laidback speakeasy, Himkok has been hailed as one of the most sustainable bars in Europe, if not the world for cutting out the middleman and distilling 80% of its spirits on-site in its very own micro-brewery.
Why: Himkok is a Norwegian cocktail bar with a uniquely sustainable approach to reducing its carbon footprint. Alcohol uses up a hefty amount of energy in its distilling and procuring, especially if it’s transported from all over the world. Instead, Himkok has decided to cut out the middleman by distilling its own spirits in its hydro-powered micro-brewery. The bar also brews its own craft beer and ferments its own wine, mead and kefir on-site, creating a unique selection of tipples that showcase the very best of Norwegian culture. Zero waste is a big part of Himkok’s brand. ‘Ugly’ and misshapen fruits and vegetables are given a new life in garnishes, soft drinks and mixers. If you happen to be travelling to Norway anytime soon then make sure you head to Himkok for a truly sustainable cocktail experience.
What to try: Immerse yourself in the flavours of Norway, concocted with an experimental twist. Try a Brunost (caramelised milk cheese) with aquavit, Armagnac and garnished with a piece of brown cheese and a sprig of rosemary.
Where: Storgata 27, 0184 Oslo, Norway
What: Vesper, one of Amsterdam’s most sustainable cocktail bars, is a favourite haunt among locals and tourists alike.
Why: Boasting a growing number of accolades in its collection and a buzzing atmosphere to match, Vesper is a world-class cocktail institution and a dedicated advocate of sustainability. The bar takes part in numerous projects including a collaboration with a variety of producers and growers located within the Amsterdam A10 ring road to create seasonal cocktails that celebrate the local area. Two years ago, Vesper bartender, Julian Bayuni launched ‘Trash the Place’, a zero-waste project which encourages bars around Amsterdam to adopt a closed-loop approach to making cocktails. In the spirit of the motto, ‘another man’s trash is another man’s treasure’, all ingredients, leftovers and off-cuts that were destined for the bin are given a new purpose in delicious, inventive and waste-conscious cocktails.
What to try: The menu changes every month but to give you an idea, offerings have included the likes of Red Moon, with gin, dry vermouth, homemade port syrup and star anise foam.
Where: Vinkenstraat 57, 1013 JM Amsterdam, Netherlands
What: Cask, with its beautiful exposed brick interior and passion for keeping things local, has become a bit of a trendsetter in the sustainable Irish bar scene.
Why: Cask prides itself on being an active member of the community, taking part in regular ongoing projects to protect the local flora and fauna. Another big lover of foraging, Cask flavours and garnishes its cocktails with locally sourced and wild ingredients, but that’s not all. In a bid to cut down the amount of energy used to transport them, Cask has removed all lemons, limes and oranges from its entire drinks menu. You could argue that it’s a bit of a bold move, however, Cask experiments with acidity by replacing the citrus flavour with alternatives including vinegar, Irish wine or local fruits with natural acidity. Judging by its growing collection of awards, Cask’s method appears to be working and the bar’s cocktails have been hailed as a world-famous success. It’s worth a trip to Cork just for one of their tipples themselves.
What to try: For a delicate cocktail, choose a Bee Positive with Ketel One Vodka, Killahora Orchards Rare Apple Iced Wine, Suze, borage and local honey. Each one of these cocktails comes with a packet of wildflower seeds that you can scatter yourself to help the bee population.
Where: 8 MacCurtain Street, Victorian Quarter, Cork, T23 F104, Ireland