Food & Drink

How Some of the Best Bars in Asia Are Saving the Planet One Drink at a Time

Once you read about the simple genius of ecoSPIRITS, you'll be demanding your favorite bartender use them to green up your next drink.

Bottleggers, a sustainable bars asia

Courtesy of Bootleggers Trading

By Marissa Carruthers

Dec 16, 2021

“THERE’S A LOT OF WASTE and littering in the city,” says Vanda Sok as he adds garnish to one of many decadent cocktails that adorn Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh’s The Attic menu. “We want to play a part in helping reduce Cambodia’s carbon footprint.” The hotel recently became the in Cambodia to partner with ecoSPIRITS, which has pioneered the world’s first low-carbon method of packaging and distribution for high-end liquor. And, happily for all of us looking to redefine the phrase “drink responsibly,” its plan to rid the alcohol industry of single-use glass is catching on across the hospitality scene in Asia: ecoSPIRITS are already in Hong Kong at places like Rosewood’s award-winning Darkside, are demonstrably big in Singapore , which has some truly pioneering sustainable bars, and are coming soon to Thailand and Vietnam. 

ecoSpirits menu from Rosewood Hong Kong. Courtesy of Rosewood (3)

Here’s how it works: rather than glass bottles traditionally used to transport liquors, ecoSPIRITS offers ecoTOTES — reusable vessels that can carry up to 4.5 liters of alcohol, which bartenders use to refill their bottles. Once empty, ecoTOTES are returned, sanitized and fitted with tamper-proof seals ready to be re-distributed. 

Through the partnership, Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh aims to reduce its carbon footprint from transport and packaging by 40 percent. All cocktails here featuring premium local rum, Samai, use ecoTOTES. “We take sustainability seriously,” says Vanda. “We are also seeing a lot more well-educated local millennials asking about it, which is great. We want to help Cambodia reduce its carbon footprint however possible.”

From January, Thai residents can sip on an eco-friendly beverage at a range of venues, including Vesper in Bangkok and hotels including top-tier luxury Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Phraya River and Capella Bangkok, the latter of which is already one of the most eco-conscious in the city

This is thanks to a venture between ecoSPIRITS, craft spirits producer Bootleggers Trading, and Chalong Bay Distillery, a craft rum distillery in Phuket. Bootleggers’ founder, Minway Chi, says within the first year more than 20,000 single-use glass bottles will be steered away from Thai landfills. Additionally, the equivalent of 9,000 kilograms of carbon emissions will be prevented from entering the atmosphere.   

Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh (2)

“Every day, we see the carbon footprint of moving spirits around the world in heavy single-use glass packaging,” Chi says. “From the ship, to the trucks, cars, and motorcycles, we see how much carbon is released just to get one bottle into the hands of a bartender or someone at home enjoying a sip. When we were approached by ecoSPIRITS, we knew this was not only the future of spirits distribution, but the right thing to do for our planet.”

The initial focus will be on Bangkok and Phuket, with a rollout to other regions on the cards for next year. So look out soon in Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Koh Samui.

Environmentally friendly imbibers in Vietnam, stay tuned as an announcement is due in January on the launch of ecoSPIRITS Vietnam.    

In Phnom Penh, the Hyatt Regency’s partnership with ecoSPIRITS further boosts their conservation focus. The Attic was launched specifically to join the new breed of cocktail bars sweeping Asia: sustainable, featuring zero-waste, locally sourced ingredients. The Passion Julep, for example, uses passion fruits from the eastern province of Mondulkiri, blended with fresh lime and Samai rum infused with jasmine. The result is a delightfully refreshing fusion of sweet and sour.

Elsewhere on the menu, the Tuk Tuk Fix pays tribute to Cambodia’s most famed mode of transport. It sees Samai rum mixed with cognac, fresh mangoes and pineapple juice. The Temple of Hope – of course, named after iconic Angkor Wat – blends Samai rum infused with longans, green mango and palm juice.

We published a list of some of the most sustainable bars in Southeast Asia only a few months ago and have never been happier to say an article might be due for a lengthy update. Stay tuned!

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