Welcome to The Sustainable Shift Drink, a blog of Sustainable Foodservice Consulting!
I guess since I titled the blog The Sustainable Shift Drink I should start-off by discussing green drinks, or sustainable cocktails if you will. What is a sustainable shift drink? As those of us in the restaurant and bar industry know, a shift drink is the small complimentary incentive given out by restaurant owners to keep their staff around for the whole shift… It is an often-abused privilege, but a kind observance of the staff’s hard work.
The sustainable side comes from what SFC does best, sustainability. Usually local produce and sometimes wine gets the lion’s share of press in regards to the sustainable food movement, but I believe there is definitely a place for the cocktail in this slow food world. There is no reason a menu heavy with local and organic offerings should not offer a selection of local distilled spirits.
A few years ago, while working for a restaurant group, I started pushing the fellow management to start carrying a local liquor selection. I said, “It’s going to be the next big thing,” and to some degree I was right. Mixology is obviously a big trend in the bar business evidenced by numerous articles, bartenders being invited to foodservice shows, and even on TV. Who lets a bartender on TV?… Local and sustainable cocktail options have been advanced along with the mixologist trend, but I feel like it’s still pushed aside for gourmet drinks and the juggernauts of hard alcohol. Microbrews have seemed to make it into mainstream America, but micro distilleries like House Spirits and their Medoyeff Vodka have yet to make any sort of dent in Grey Goose or Ketel One’s market share.
For this reason, I think the foodservice industry needs to turn some of its attention to the small batch, craft distilled, livations so many of us enjoy.
Fortunately for us here in Oregon, we have a wide selection of craft spirits to choose from – not to mention numerous beers and wines, but that’s old news. 25 years ago, Oregon helped push the microbrewery industry forward, and is now leading the charge of craft distilleries with 17 throughout the state, second only to California. However, the craft distilling industry is not limited to the West. Across the country, small batch distillers are marketing their spirits hoping to get drinkers interested in their local, usually high-end spirits. Many are open for tastings, and always more than happy to make suggestions for cocktail recipes. Distillery tours are well worth the trip, and the addition to a bar selection.