Hot off winning a national bartending contest and launching boutique cocktail catering company Hospitality 201, Carley Gaskin—who got her start in Chicago mixing drinks at Bad Hunter, Celeste and Disco and—highlights the benefits of zero-waste cocktails and shares the gin-based recipe that bested 900 competitors from across the country.
How does it feel to be named the U.S. Bartenders Guild’s “Most Imaginative Bartender”?
I started following this competition when I started bartending eight years ago, and it’s always been a goal for me. It still hasn’t really hit me yet, but it’s really incredible to be on this side of it after being a young bartender watching this competition.
Why did you decide to focus on zero-waste cocktails for the competition?
I’m super passionate about sustainability, and with Hospitality 201, we try to focus on recycling ingredients and composting. Having this national platform, I wanted to inspire people and get them to think about how much we waste at every bar, every shift. It adds up.
Are zero-waste cocktails a trend on the rise in Chicago?
I think Chicago has been on the forefront of different cocktail movements, not only sustainability but also inclusiveness—hiring more women and people of color. In terms of sustainability, I think you’ve seen a pretty hard movement toward that in maybe the last year or so. It’s something people are really beginning to focus on.
But surely it comes with some challenges, too.
I think it’s a lot easier when you’re building a whole menu. If you’re thinking about strawberries, you can use the puree in one drink, then the stems can be used somewhere else. In a single cocktail, it’s difficult, because it limits what you can use and your flavor profile.
Tell us about Geb’s Reviver, your contest-winning cocktail.
Geb’s Reviver is a zero-waste cocktail. It has lemon juice in it, but I also I made a pineapple lemon oleo, taking the lemon peels and soaking them over sugars to bring out the oils for this nice citrus-forward syrup. Then I reused the pineapple in a foam. Here’s a simplified version people can make at home:
2 ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
4 ounces lemonade
1 ounce pineapple juice
Top with whipped cream and a pinch of matcha powder