Australia’s most sustainable bartender

Tom McHugh from Melbourne’s Hazel Restaurant has taken out the title of Australia’s most Sustainable Cocktail Bartender in the national finals of Flor de Caña’s second ever Sustainable Cocktail Challenge.

The finals were hosted at The Keel in The Rocks, where McHugh presented ‘Flor de Café’, an Australian cocktail that celebrates Flor de Caña’s historic commitment to sustainability.

Originally from Perth, McHugh moved to Melbourne and started off barbacking at Gin Palace where he became a supervisor after several years of service. Currently the Bar Manager at Hazel, he decided to join the Flor de Caña initiative to showcase how sustainable ingredients and techniques can be used to create delicious cocktails.

His winning cocktail, ‘Flor de Café’, is a twist on the humble Irish Coffee. The drink features Flor de Caña 12-Year-Old and in-house miso made from leftover sourdough from service, using koji spores to ferment the bread.

Locally sourced sugar is then added to create a miso caramel which serves as a sweetener and umami base for the drink. McHugh makes a buttermilk and white cacao foam to complement the local Melbourne coffee added to the cocktail. This buttermilk is a by-product of the butter and cream that the Hazel kitchen makes from scratch.

McHugh also sources his cacao from a farm located on a bird sanctuary that promotes sustainability and reforestation.

“Now more than ever, our community should be reducing waste and integrating greener techniques wherever possible,” McHugh said. “No matter the job or sector, there are so many ways to ramp up sustainability, and the Flor de Caña challenge highlights how easy and fun it is to do so.”

McHugh will now travel to Thailand for the regional finals on October 27. There he will compete with other national champions from the Asia Pacific region for the regional champion title. This winner will go on to Nicaragua to compete in the global finale in February 2023 for the chance to win the title of ‘Flor de Caña World’s Most Sustainable Bartender’ and take home $10,000 USD in prize money.

Flor de Caña is the world’s first spirit to be carbon neutral and Fair Trade certified and is a leader in sustainable practices across the drinks industry. Its Nicaraguan rum is distilled using 100 percent renewed energy and all C02 emissions during fermentation are captured and recycled.

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