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Bartending duo serves up drinks made from scraps : Trash Tiki turns food waste into innovative cocktails

July 14,2017
A few of the drinks and snacks served during the team’s pop-up at the Four Seasons Seoul. Some of the drinks shown on the left are made with filtered ginger beer or with orgeat made from pastries. Also, imperfect cuts of food are used to make one-bite snacks to pair with the drinks. [LEE SUN-MIN]
Trash Tiki, a bartending duo consisting of Iain Griffiths and Kelsey Ramage, make cocktails at Charles H., a bar at the Four Seasons Seoul in central Seoul, on Wednesday. [LEE SUN-MIN]
Food waste from bars turns into tasty cocktail at the hands of Trash Tiki, a traveling bartending duo that aims to limit the amount of food wasted by bars around the world.

Of course, Iain Griffiths and Kelsey Ramage, the pair behind Trash Tiki, don’t dig through garbage cans to find their ingredients. They usually ask bars to save food waste that would normally be thrown out in preparation for one of their pop-up events.

Trash Tiki hope to spread their food waste philosophy in Korea through pop-ups in two local bars, Charles H. at the Four Seasons Seoul hotel in Jongno District, central Seoul, and Southside Parlor in Yongsan District, also in central Seoul. The Charles H. event took place on Wednesday and the Southside Parlor pop-up will take place tonight.

The ingredients used at these two bars are different, so the list of cocktails Trash Tiki makes also change. At their event at the Charles H., they served four different cocktails including one using pear pulp. The bar uses pear balls in their cocktails, hence a lot of uneven and rough pieces of pear are often thrown away. The bartending duo used this wasted fruit to make a new drink, and garnished it with a piece of pineapple found from a juice bar inside the hotel, which creates lots of small off-cuts of fruit.

Even wasted pastries can be used to make cocktails, forming the basis for a sugary syrup. Trash Tiki gathered all the pastries not served at breakfast - which typically would have been thrown out in order to meet the luxury hotel’s food standards - and soaked them in hot water and sugar overnight. The following day the mixture is blended with a stick to make a perfect orgeat, a type of syrup used to sweeten cocktails.

“The hot water breaks down the texture, and also captures the buttery aromas,” said Griffiths.

The hotel’s chefs made the event extra special by creating a menu of one-bite snacks to accompany the drinks. The food stayed true to Trash Tiki’s ethos, using left over ingredients that don’t usually make it to the dining table, including small bits of kimchi or less appealing pieces of cheese.

For the event at Southside Parlor the duo is in the process of creating a recipe using omija, a type of small local berry, which the bar uses to make an Omija Mule, one of its most popular drinks. Ramage said it is fun to come up with new recipes as they explore bars in different countries, getting to know more about local ingredients they would seldom see if they stayed in just one city.

It was only at the end of last year that Trash Tiki began to explore the food waste idea. After they serve their last drink in Seoul they will head to the United States for more pop-up events. To get updates on their event schedules, go to www.trashtikisucks.com or follow them on Instagram @trashtiki.

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]