I have a distant memory of green Chartreuse from my student days. It was one of those “let’s forget about going to the library and work our way through the lesser-known liquers stocked in the union bar” type afternoons. Such behaviour is highly irresponsible and I for one don’t condone it. It certainly put me off green Chartreuse for life.
Alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation but at this time of year there are more opportunities than ever to be moderate. Whether it’s the office party, pre-Christmas drinks or a glug of something to recover from an afternoon’s shopping, the drinks cabinet seems determined to take on a starring role. How many of us are thinking about the environment while ordering a Singapore sling? I have gone as far as buying the odd bottle of organic wine, but calculating the carbon footprint of a Moscow mule seems somehow at odds with the carefree nature of cocktail hour.
Still, there is a whole world out there of eco-friendly alcoholic delights just waiting to be discovered. As to whether your local bar stocks them is another matter. If you’re serious about sipping green cocktails, then your best bet is to shake them up at home. Retailers such as www.vinceremos.co.uk and www.vintageroots.co.uk stock organic beer, wine and cider, but also spirits. You can choose from Juniper Green Organic London Dry Gin, Utkins UK5 Organic Vodka or Bruichladdich Organic Single Malt for starters. If you don’t mind a few air miles, the organic Fairtrade White Rum Papagayo from Paraguay will expand your cocktail-making ingredient list. Even if you don’t go for organic, Scotland has lots of small-scale distillers, many of whom follow strong environmental policies.
Need some mixers? Organic fruit juices are easily found and while my search for organic tonic water has proved futile, Whole Earth makes organic cola and lemonade and Fentiman’s makes tonic water in small batches using all natural ingredients. The perfect cocktails are going to be local and/or seasonal – perhaps you could mix some raspberries from the garden you froze earlier in the year with English sparkling wine for a delightful aperitif? I foresee a fun evening spent experimenting along these lines.
Moving on to the bar-room staple, beer: calculations suggest that a pint of locally-brewed draught beer bought in a pub has just a third of the carbon footprint of foreign bottled beer bought in a shop. Wine is produced in the UK and some of it has even won awards but most of us are still scared of it. We consume around a billion bottles of wine a year in the UK and 35 per cent of its emissions are due to transport. There’s been a move towards lighter packaging by some producers and several million litres are shipped in bulk from Australia and France each year and bottled in the UK but it takes research to seek these out – not what you’re always in the mood for by the time you reach the alcohol aisle in the supermarket. Whatever you’re drinking, stuff that’s produced locally or organically is going to lead you to the higher ground. If only moonshine wasn’t dangerous, I’d be shaking up a potato spirit cocktail right now.