No waste of thyme

Updated: 22 March, 2020 08:53 IST | Anju Maskeri | Mumbai

Taste Test: After months of rifling through leftovers, Arina Suchde launches a new line of sustainable cocktails at neighbourhood pub Woodside Inn. We drop in for a sip

Chef Arina Suchde doesn't like to use the word 'trash' to define the ingredients of a line of low-waste cocktails that she has helped put together for Woodside Inn resto-bar at Colaba. "By-product is a nicer word. Trash gives the wrong impression," she says. The unassuming citrus peels, carrot skin and corn stalk that would typically get trashed, have turned into hero ingredients on Suchde's sustainable special bar menu.

Having worked at commercial kitchens in Mumbai, she is aware of how wasteful the restaurant industry is. "I would say, 33 per cent of the produce we acquire goes into the bin," she says. It's not the first time that she has helped make trash tasty. The 34-year-old's first go at it was in 2019, when she collaborated with the Woodside Inn founders, Abhishek Honawar, Pankil Shah and Sumit Gambhir, for their sister establishment, The Pantry at Kala Ghoda. Here, she launched a sustainable food menu. Its success inspired the team to extend the idea to cocktails. "Sustainability is catching on across the world. India, unfortunately, has been slow in getting there. Curiously, we, as a culture, have always been conscious of using ingredients to their full potential. But to keep up in a fast-paced life, our generation has forgotten its importance."

The drinks are a spin on the classic cocktails that the brand has championed since it set up shop in 2007. "We wanted to add a new dimension to the cocktails without overdoing it. It made sense environmentally and financially," says Shah. The team began by spending a couple of shifts at the bar to review all that was going into the bin, and how much of it could be used. "We realised that the leftovers coming out of the bar and kitchen were radically different. So, we made a list of what could be utilised," he says.

Suchde has used a root to shoot approach for three cocktails, and the remaining three have been concocted using waste ingredients alone. For instance, the base of the Dark stranger is made using spent coffee grounds and dark rum. "The dregs from the coffee machine still have a lot of flavour. They lack acidity after the first brew, which is a good thing." For now, her goal is to keep the drinks approachable, and goad bartenders to incorporate sustainable practices into the business of drinking. "We'll take it one step at a time."

Whiskey sour
Whiskey sour

We begin with the whiskey sour, an infusion made using the whey from in-house ricotta, orange syrup made using leftover orange rinds, with a dash of bitters. The whey, which normally goes down the drain, becomes the substitute for egg white The result is a citrus-balanced cocktail with each sip giving offering a taste of a new ingredient.

Corn off the cob
Corn off the cob

This one is not a crowd pleaser. Made using corn milk, vodka, corn-cob and lemon rind cordial with corn silk charred with red chilli butter caviar, it demands an acquired taste. Have it if you are serious about keeping sweet out of your cocktail.

Sneaky sundae
Sneaky sundae

The sneaky sundae has us eating out of the chocolate covered waffle cone that it's served in. The cocktail is a delectable concoction of frozen banana and peanut butter-washed dark rum. Topped with whipped cream swirl, banana peel oleo and candied banana peels, it is Suchde's best creation, we think.

Green gin. Pics/Ashish Raje
Green gin. Pics/Ashish Raje

Green gin is a mix of Greater Than gin, spent botanicals served with a slice of orange. It's a refreshing drink but one that we'd forgo in favour of the more experimental sneaky sundae, or the funky whiskey sour. Health conscious folks can ask the server for a zero sugar variant of this concoction.

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First Published: 22 March, 2020 07:19 IST

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