By Tom Tanner
The Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award 2021, at the World’s 50 Best Bars, has been won by Re-. The extraordinary scale of the commitment to minimising waste at the Sydney, Australia cocktail bar, would be impressive for a venue that’d been operating for a decade. The fact that it only opened its doors earlier this year is mind-boggling.
As with all the World’s 50 Best awards, we had the great pleasure of assessing the sustainability of these, the finest bars on the planet. And, Re- stood out head and shoulders above the rest.
In an interview with Time Out, Re-’s owner, Matt Whiley explained his ethos: “Coming to Re- should just feel like fun. We want you to hang out, bring your mates, and leave a bit merrier than when you arrived. It just happens that everything you touch, feel or drink, we’ve saved or recycled.”
And he really means it. Whether it’s fruit and veg skins, peels, leaves, trims, used coffee grains or spent beer, every cocktail has repurposing at its core (pun intended). The kitchen and bar work as one to maximise the use of every single ingredient that enters the building.
Not content with this monumental effort, Matt and his team have joined forces with eight local businesses. The collaboration sees Re- collecting their surplus and by-products and transforming them into to top notch cocktails.
For the YULLIS cocktail, for instance, they take the spent grains from the brewing process of a local brewery, dry them out and blitz them into a powder. They then distil this into vodka, achieving a very special gin-like taste. In this recipe they also include pumpkin trim juice, made from all offcuts from dicing pumpkin.
The zero-waste approach isn’t limited to the food and drinks menu either. In fact, whether it’s the plates customers eat off, the menu itself, or the bar furniture, it’s pretty much all had a previous life. Milk bottles are the primary material used in the making of the bar and the tables – 82,000 of them. The plates are made from recycled or imperfect glass. The banquettes are clothed in pineapple-leaf fibre, and the light fittings and wine coolers are made from new age mycelium fungus material.
“We don’t want to carry the negative connotation of ‘saving’ something from the bin,” says Whiley. “We want to champion the fact that we’re giving something new life.”
We can certainly drink to that. Waking up in the morning after a visit to Re-, at least the feelgood factor should overcome any hangover symptoms.