Mummified lemons: on the sustainable cocktail trail

They may call zero waste a “unicorn”, but Iain Griffiths and his partner Ryan Chetiyawardana have done a lot to put the sustainable cocktail trend on the map. At his recent presentation at the Australian Drinks Festival, Griffiths explained – in detail – how their bars and bartenders work toward limiting waste.


“There are still a lot of problems when you consider the waste timeline – it’s at that production point where we are always going to struggle to be zero waste. But with Dandylyan and doing a more closed-loop menu, what we wanted to look at was the other end of the timeline – in the bar.

In the food and drink world we refer to it as mis-en-place – it’s your advanced preparation of all of you ingredients, and it’s more common in the kitchen world but it means getting yourself ready to deal with a higher volume.

Dandylyan has a 12 foot piece of green marble with two ice wells and five bartenders working it. Every single night we will do between 400 and 600 cocktails. You can’t do every single element on the spot. Our mis-en-place tray is huge. Every single night of the week. It’s a lot of fresh produce and at the beginning even we were throwing things out because we were struggling – we’re the first to turn around and say “we didn’t get this right but we’re working on it”. But we’re getting there.

We’ve now got 24 cocktails on the menu, and every single one has a garnish, 18 of those are perishable and over time we’ve now reached a point where we are able to reuse every single element of them along the way. Which sounds quite easy and at the same time rather difficult.

For example, Dandylyan has a drink on its menu called the 13th Century Boy and it looks at the mummification process that existed during Tutankhamun’s dynasty. It’s quite specific, shall we say?

It was one of our bartenders that came to us and said “I want to do a drink based on this” and we said “ok, sure, fair enough then”. But what we realised along the way is that it is actually a brilliant way that we can really show how we close loop and reuse again and again.

The drink has lemon juice in it. so we juice the lemons at the start of the day, but we keep the husk and we put it into a large vat that has loads of embalming salts in there, and what it does is draw all of that oil and all of that extra flavour – because that’s the real point of doing all of this, we often throw out some of the most flavourful natural elements in a bar. So those salts draw all those oils out and we hit that with boiling water and what you get is a saline citrus solution and we use a couple of dashes of that back in the drink.

The saltiness offsets a bitterer element that we use and you get more of a citrus zip. Then what we do is we take those lemon husks, which look mummified at this point, and then we put them in the dehydrator and we turn them into a little cup and when you get the 13th Century Boy you get that one lemon that has been used three times and every single element and flavour has been drawn out of it wherever possible.

Also, once you’ve reached that point with that little husk, it’s easier to compost completely.”


“Our bars are known for doing things a little bit differently, that’s what we do.

So we do an M&M Martini that is a ‘milk and mint’ martini, which is not something that people would look at and find enthralling in any way whatsoever. We created this purely for events, we created it to work with the chefs. Kitchens do a huge amount of mis-en-place every single day and so they also have an obscene amount of waste that they are throwing out.

In the Mondrian they prep a whey syrup that they dress a dish with so when you prep that you have the curds left and the kitchen was throwing these out on a daily basis.

So what we do an extraction of all the milk protein in the curds and absorb it into the alcohol. So the drink still looks clear, still looks simple, still looks like vodka, but we’ve extracted all that mouthfeel – imagine cheese but without the aroma, but with the ability to coat your entire mouth.

And when the drink is served, it’s actually garnished with a little bit of popcorn, which has actually been seasoned with the stems of the mint that we have used to infuse the rum for our mojitos. So what we do is we take the mint stems, drag them back out, dry them then mix them with Maldon salt, blitzed down to create a lovely seasoning – so mint in its entirety has been used throughout the venue.”


Look out for the new issue of bars&clubs magazine (#90 out August 2016) to read more from Iain’s presentation and how to make sustainable changes in your bar.



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