DC Bar Five to One Ditches the Garnish

When Trevor Frye was working at different cocktail bars in Washington, D.C., he could never get over how many discarded ingredients there were–especially garnishes like citrus peels. He also noticed that depending on the freshness of the fruit and the distance from the peel to the surface of the glass, different amounts of oil were expressed.

That inconsistency and waste led him to rethink the garnish when he opened up his own bar in the District, Five to One, this past June. “I realized you can use an aromatic component that does the same thing as a garnish,” Frye notes.

So Frye created infusions with lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, bergamot and mint. They are kept shelf stable with vodka, diluted with purified water and dispensed via atomizer to the surface of the drink–and to the stem, where it’s heated up by an imbiber’s hand to add even more aromatics.

So do customers think something is missing if there isn’t a mint sprig, olive, cherry or swath of citrus in their glass? Staff at Five to One, which is named for a 1968 song by The Doors, give guests an elevator pitch with the bar’s philosophy: “We developed a program that cuts down dramatically on waste in the bar industry, while providing consistent flavors to our guests.”

The result? Consistent aroma and flavor without filled compost heaps and trash cans, and a focus on the ingredients of the drink, rather than what’s floating in it.

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