7 zero-waste cocktails you can make using kitchen leftovers

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

Envato

What if we told you that you could turn your kitchen leftovers into amazing zero-waste cocktails? 

Consider this: an estimated 60 billion kg of food is wasted each year in the US alone, with two-thirds of household waste being due to spoiled food.

While food is compostable and can be turned into nutrition for your plants, you can also reduce waste by using it for other purposes – like fruit leather, garnish, dried spice, or as an ingredient in a delicious cocktail.

We’ve collated seven zero-waste cocktails you can recreate in your kitchen…

7 zero-waste cocktails from kitchen leftovers

#1 Fresh Rum Runner

7 zero-waste cocktail recipes you can make from kitchen leftovers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz light rum
  • 1 1/2 oz dark rum
  • 1/2 oz blackberry brandy or blackberry liqueur
  • 1/2 oz banana liqueur
  • 1/2 cup citrus scraps (including lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit)
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz water
  • Splash of grenadine (optional)

How to make it

  1. Pour light rum, dark rum, blackberry liqueur, and banana liqueur into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Add citrus scraps and water.

If you have some on hand, overripe berries, pineapple or melon will make a great addition to this cocktail recipe. Try to use at least 1/2 cup of fresh fruit per batch (makes two cocktails) and work from there. 

2. Shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds to fully combine. Add orange and pineapple juice. 

Note: You may need to remove some of the larger citrus pieces to make room for the juice in your shaker. If necessary, use a bar spoon, fork, or slotted spoon to remove larger scraps and set them aside.

3. Shake your mixture gently for about five seconds more.

4. Strain into two highball glasses filled with ice. Top with a splash of grenadine if desired (grenadine will make your cocktail much sweeter, so taste it first for best results). Garnish with an orange, lemon, or lime slice, and enjoy.

Bonus tip: If you’re making multiple batches for a get-together, you can reuse the fruit in your shaker several times before tossing it. As long as it still leaves its fresh and tasty essence, it’s doing its job.

#2 Recycled White Russian

7 zero-waste cocktails you can make using kitchen leftovers

Ingredients (makes one)

  • Ice Cubes 
  • 60 ml of Vodka 
  • 20 ml of sugar syrup (equal amounts of water and sugar, then boil until the sugar dissolves and cools). 
  • 80 ml of milk (dairy, oat or almond will work well) 
  • 5 tablespoons of used coffee grounds 

How to make

Coffee drinkers, this recipe from Hubab is for you! Save up your coffee grounds and enjoy this as an early evening treat. If you’re not ready for a coffee cocktail, you can collect your grounds and use them as fertiliser instead.

1. Prepare the coffee-flavoured vodka by combining the used coffee grounds with vodka. 

2. Allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes, then pour through a fine sieve to leave coffee-flavoured vodka. 

3. Add the coffee-flavoured vodka, your choice of milk, ice cubes and sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker and give it a good shake (or an old jam jar if you don’t have one). 

4. Pour the liquid and ice into a glass. 

#3 Lemon Drop

7 zero-waste cocktails you can make using kitchen leftovers

Ingredients

  • Lemon peels
  • Citrus stock
  • Vodka
  • Simple syrup

How to make

When life gives you lemons, don’t just make lemonade. Plan ahead.

  1. Peel your citrus before you squeeze the juice to make a citrus stock. By doing this, you can use those peels for sherbet or stock. The first step to making lemon sherbet is to prepare a lemon oleo Saccharum, or “oil sugar”, made from lemon peels and castor sugar.
  2. The next step is to add freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice to the oleo Saccharum until fully combined.
  3. The result is a bright citrus syrup with many applications in cocktails and punches. One can always speed up this process by cooking the zest in equal parts water and sugar, resulting in a slightly more bitter and less viscous syrup.
  4. Choose your favourite cocktail glass and mix 30 ml vodka, 25 ml lime stock syrup and 15 ml simple syrup, give it a stir and top up with soda.

Recipe from: CNN

#4 Tepache (Kombucha from pineapple scraps)

7 zero-waste cocktails you can make using kitchen leftovers

Ingredients

  • Pineapple scraps
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Ginger
  • Water

How to make

Rescue your rinds! Tepache is a fermented Mexican drink made with pineapple scraps. The magic of carbonation starts outside the pineapple rind because it is a natural source of yeast.

  1. Cut up pineapple scraps and add them to a large glass jar.
  2. Throw in brown sugar, spices, and top with water to submerge all parts of the fruit.
  3. Top with an airlock lid which works great because it prevents the need to burp the jar of gases that build up over time.
  4. After two-three days of fermenting, you see the magic of yeast occur: carbonation. Strain the liquid and transfer it to bottles for a couple more days. This creates so much natural fizz your regular soda will pale in comparison!
  5. After straining the liquid, add water to the pineapple scraps for a second go-round. Muddling the pineapple scraps again draws out maximum flavour.
  6. Blend with fresh mint, purple basil and lemongrass. Lime leaves are optional.

Mix with cocktails or drink it by itself. It’s so yummy!

#5 Bitter Bourbon Tepache

7 zero-waste cocktails you can make using kitchen leftovers

Ingredients

  • Homemade Tepache
  • Bourbon

How to make

Mix 60 ml bourbon, 15 ml pineapple tepache, and a few dashes of Angostura bitters with some dehydrated orange segments to your whisky glass. Give it a gentle stir with ice cubes and serve.

#6 Madurai Negroni

7 zero-waste cocktail recipes you can make from kitchen leftovers

Coffee-Infused Gin

1. 250 ml good quality gin, poured into a clean glass bottle for you to try. Label the date of infusing.

2. Add 50 grams of leftover coffee powder (dried) from your espresso maker or coffee filter to this bottle, along with 15 grams of honey.

3. Store the bottle at room temperature for at least two days for a strong flavour. 

Ingredients

  • 30 ml Infusion
  • 30 ml Campari
  • 30 ml Sweet Vermouth
  • Orange peel for garnish (optional)

How to Make

1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.

2. Add ice and stir until desired chill and dilution are achieved. Do not dilute it too much.

3. Strain and serve.

Recipe from: Lifestyle Asia

#7 Strawberry Jam Bellini Cocktail

7 zero-waste cocktails you can make using kitchen leftovers

Ingredients

  • Strawberry jam (or any fruit preserve). You can also make your fruit preserves from those near their perishable date.
  • Champagne

How to make

Drop a blob of strawberry jam (or any fruit jam, marmalade, or preserve) into a champagne flute. Top up with prosecco, and you’ve got yourself a budget take on the classic Italian aperitif.

Recipe from Timeout London

The bottom line

Creating zero-waste cocktails has environmental benefits – and repurposing excess food saves you money. Every little step counts!

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.

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