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Is Himkok The World’s Most Sustainable Cocktail Bar?

April 30, 2021 by Jonathan Paxley

Sustainability has very slowly gathered momentum over the past few years.

What was once seen as a happy-clappy movement of wearing hemp clothes and tunnelling to prevent development has now become cool.

We need to say a big thank you to millennials and Gen XYZ as they have helped shape this new super trend.

It is widely known in the marketing and advertising industry that these groups see sustainability as a key driver for purchase and buy-in with brands.

This has meant that brands and industries have had to adapt or die to meet the demands of the new generations.

The trend in sustainability has spread far and wide and the bar industry has embraced this.


It’s great to see that so many bars have taken sustainability to new heights and it has become a core pillar of their bar programmes.

Venues such as Silo in London or Paradiso in Barcelona are doing really amazing work in this space.

The one trailblazer though (as there always has to be) is Himkok in Oslo.

It has been claimed in some quarters that Himkok is the “worlds most sustainable cocktail bar”.

So what is it that the Himkok team are doing and are there any lessons we can learn, as agencies, brands and venues to start the journey to a more sustainable future?


What Is Himkok Doing?

Himkok is doing a lot of the right things and is an example of total commitment to a cause.

There is often a danger of not walking the walk, particularly with regard to sustainability. Greenwashing is widespread.

Himkok is certainly not guilty of this.

They are fully aware of the carbon footprint that the shipping of spirits leaves behind and other impacts their venues have on the environment.

Their solution?

They set up an in-house micro-distillery and produce 80% of their spirits required to run the bar. This is powered by renewable hydro energy.

They reuse and refill all bottles onsite.

They use only local ingredients and fruits such as sea buckthorn berries and diver caught seaweed.

They brew their own beer.

They ferment their own kefir and kombucha.

They use aquafaba as it has far better green credentials than egg whites. They even partner with local Turkish and Indian restaurants to close the loop, by donating the surplus chickpeas or taking the restaurants aquafaba.

We could go on all day.

They have taken the sustainability commitment and integrated it into a system that covers every base in the venue.


What Else Makes Himkok A World Leader?

The sustainable credentials are undeniable and inspirational.

Himkok doesn’t just take sustainability as a green focus.

They also believe sustainability should focus on people. Their team is looked after above and beyond. Virtually unheard of in a business with wafer-thin margins, they offer their team full health insurance, nine-hour max shifts and a plethora of training and educational opportunities.

This is refreshing and a huge step in the right direction.

The craft of bartending has a mixed opinion with regard to its place as a long term career. In the UK, we are slowly adjusting to the notion that it is a professional career and not just a stop-gap or fall back option.

And an investment in people like that of Himkok serves as a benchmark to bar and restaurant owners, on how to create more sustainable people.


So Does It All Work?

So the work of HImkok is to be applauded, but from a commercial sense do they make ends meet with all of the additional time and financial investment required to keep such a machine going.

In short, yes, it works really well.

They serve over 200,000 cocktails per year. They were awarded the Sustainable Bar Award by The Worlds 50 Best Bars and in 2020 were ranked as the 30th best bar in the world.

What Can We Learn?

Taking a lesson from Himkok is something every bar could benefit from.

There is their approach to sustainability that should be applauded.

They have sustainability in their DNA and it is a central part of their vision, but not every bar has to go to such lengths. There are small steps bars can take to become more sustainable.

Buying local, using alternatives such as aquafaba or developing a seasonal drinks programme, are all steps in the right direction.

What’s really impressive is how they look after their people. They look at sustainability beyond the green message and see their people as part of the sustainability vision also.

Hopefully, this movement continues, and the example that Himkok sets will begin to extend across the hospitality industry.


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