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Create a perfect home bar

Home bars are on the rise: here’s how to stock yours for a sustainable drinks party that won’t disappoint this winter
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Avallen calvados cocktail

This article first appeared in our COP28 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 30 November 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

With the colder months now well and truly approaching, warming spirits, celebratory tipples and the glimmer of Christmas drinks parties don’t feel far away.

The cost of living will be on our minds this season, and plenty of us will choose to enjoy our favourite premium tipples from the comfort of our homes.

Home bars are growing in popularity, and with a bit of help you’ll be able to make sure your home drinking habits aren’t harming the planet.

Here are some tips to get you started from the drinks experts behind Avallen calvados, the climate-positive apple brandy from Normandy.

Choose the right spirits (and recipes!)

Sustainable drinking at home all begins with a curated collection of spirits. You can be smarter this winter by curating a small but expertly chosen selection of spirits that you know are more positive for the planet.

Do your research; not all brands are made equal when it comes to the planet, and there are lots of brands out there that might claim to be more sustainable than they actually are.

To avoid greenwash look out for accreditations like B Corp, which signal that a brand has embedded ethical practices into its entire business. It’s also fun to find new brands and introduce them to friends.

Buy quality, flexible spirits; don’t try to cater for all tastes and find a bottle for every category – you’ll end up with waste.

Instead, invest in a few quality bottles that lend themselves to lots of different recipes and ways of drinking.

Avallen is a calvados, but it works well as a substitute in a variety of cocktails like old fashioneds, mojitos and espresso martinis. One bottle – many, many options.

Sustainability isn’t just about carbon, waste or single-use glass. A thoughtful producer will actively be trying to do better across every part of the business, from the raw ingredients used through to the choice of bank.

The bottle used, the labelling and the way the spirit itself is made all play a part in the overall environmental footprint of a bottle and what’s inside.

Drink apple-based spirits

It’s acknowledged that apples are one of the most sustainable ingredients from which to make alcohol – and the alcohol they produce is utterly delicious.

But why are they so good for the planet? The traditional orchards of Normandy are rich, biodiverse habitats that support a huge range of life; the trees sequester CO2 from the atmosphere and, when it comes to Avallen calvados, the spirit is completely natural, made from nothing other than apples, water and time.

Be creative with your ingredients

Bartenders are skilled at using many ingredients to make delicious, complex recipes. You can level up your home drinking by being a little bit flexible with your ingredients.

Don’t be afraid to get creative: if you don’t have rum, use another dark spirit; swap out lemons for the limes you have in the fridge and where it says shake over ice, try chilling all your ingredients (including spirits) first.

Master the art of balancing sweet ingredients with sour citrus (a combination that our palettes absolutely adore), and you’ll be surprised what flavours you can throw together.

Shop what you can locally, always be aware of what packaging your mixers and garnishes are served in and where ice is required, try making your own as opposed to buying it in.

It takes a little bit of effort to remember to keep filling those ice trays, but it’s free and requires no extra plastic packaging.

Get rid of the waste

Reducing the amount of waste you generate at home is crucial if you want to live a lighter lifestyle.

When it comes to entertaining, or simply sipping your favourite tipple at home, this is especially true.

Cocktails can leave you with piles of extra waste – from the herbs and fruits cut up and peeled for garnish to empty mixer cans and the glass bottles left over when you’ve drained the last drop.

You can use leftover fruit in baking, cooking or even to make your own unique flavours to top up your home bar.

Spirits are great at extracting the flavour from anything they touch; want a lemon spirit? Just add some lemon peel to a bottle of vodka and voilà! It’s cost-effective and waste free.

Instead of throwing empty bottles in the bin, think about filling them with water to chill in the fridge – you could even add your own botanicals.

The most beautiful bottles could also be repurposed and used as vases or candle holders.

As the perfect eco option, Avallen is available in a beautiful paper bottle, which has less than one-fifth of the carbon footprint of its glass equivalent.

It also helps to keep it simple by choosing cocktails with a few ingredients, like the spectacular Avallen & Tonic. This simple mix will wow your guests with its crisp deliciousness and is super simple to make, leaving you plenty of time to entertain and enjoy yourself.

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