I’m 100% Irish-which explains why I was a latecomer to healthy,vibrant food (let’s just say I grew up with lots of boiled dinners). In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be fun to share some tips for greening your cocktails. Not the “gimmicky green” of green-dyed beer-but rather the eco-friendly, local, and reduced carbon footprint green cocktail. Here are my top 4 tips for making your St. Patrick’s Day cocktail a green cocktail, and for making any drinks the rest of the spring and summer season, deliciously sustainable. 1) Stock Your Bar with Organic and Sustainable Spirits. Organic liquors are popping up left and right, making eco-friendly happy hour easier than ever. Square One Vodka is the first certified organic 100% American rye vodka, released in 2006, and now even has a special cucumber infused version on the market. Perfect for making mint-cucumber mojitos! Maker’s Mark bourbon uses locally sourced corn and wheat within a 30 mile radius of their facility in Kentucky and also uses a distillation process that relies on recycled byproducts so save on water waste. Ask your local retailer about stocking these or other organic spirits as they come to market so you can feel good about your spirits’ carbon footprint (check out Chow’s list here of another 10 organic liquors to keep an eye out for).
2) Think seasonal. If you’re still in snow (as we are in Utah) this time of year can still be a great time to warm up with a glass of warm organic apple cider (mix it with 1.5 ounces of spiced rum) or your favorite fair trade coffee mixed with 1.5 ounces of coffee liqueur (such as Baileys Irish Cream or Kahlua).
3) Tap your Local Tap. Check in with local brewing companies to see what kind of seasonal ales they have on tap. Drinking at a bar? Ordering beer from the TAP is greener than bottles (less packaging). And if you’re stocking up at the market, in addition to favoring local/regional bee and wine companies, choose wine in Tetra packs for a greener package than the standard wine bottle/cork route. And try making your festive Irish Car Bombs this year with locally brewed organic, fair trade coffee as well for a St. Patty’s Day sheen that’s green on so many levels.
4) Make your own lean and green mixers. This one will have you saving green as well as being green-what’s not to love? Mixers can be pricey, and add to your drink’s overall calorie and carbon load. Got Spring Strawberries hitting the farmers market? Make a mash with club soda, mint and strawberries…top with vodka and seltzer, for a refreshing spring cocktail that’s a gorgeous red and green mix, as well as loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants. Love vodka-sodas? I’ve blogged before about great kitchen gadget gifts and the Soda Stream-Now’s your chance to put it into action! Try making your own soda water to mix with organic vodka (like the Square One I mentioned above).
Written with assistance from Lindsey Toth, MS, RD