Innovative bars

From Zero Waste to Scent Sensations: 5 Innovative Bars Redefining Cocktail Culture

In the ever-evolving landscape nightlife, some innovative bars are boldly redefining the drinking experience. These trailblazing establishments push the boundaries to create a new experience. If you’re looking for some inspiration on how you can do more with your bar, these are the ones to watch.

Skin to seed championsBar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur

trigona bar

This clever concept bar works with local farmers to ensure everything they use is fresh, seasonal and delicious. Not one part of a plant is wasted, following its entire lifecycle to use the leaves, seeds and roots wherever possible—for example, the Goin Bananas cocktail uses the peel, blossom, stem and leaf of the plant to create a unique and interesting flavour profile.

It has championed a number of sustainable causes over the years. From their reforestation programme to their Foraged Malaysia menu, they aim to highlight all the things that the ordinary person can do to make a positive impact on their environment. 

The sweet and sour honey used in the cocktails is a key ingredient for the bar, so they are part of an adopt-a-hive scheme that helps ensure it is always readily available. The bar also highlights the importance of bees in pollinating the other ingredients they use in their drinks—it’s a clever way to show that sustainability doesn’t mean forgoing decadence and enjoyment.

It’s not quite what you’d expect in a Four Seasons Hotel, as you settle down in the lap of luxury for your sustainable drink, but this bar has won awards for its innovativeness, creativity and taste.

Minimalist mavericksA Bar with Shapes for a Name, London

Shapes for a Name London

When you walk into ‘Shapes’, you instantly get the feeling that something is missing. It doesn’t look like your typical bar, influenced by trendy bauhaus styling and quite obviously lacking in any unnecessary furniture. The traditional back bar is gone, creating a very minimalist look.

Instead, colour comes from the servers in their pastel coloured overalls, while the tables and chairs play with different heights, so you can see the bar from a different perspective every time you visit. It is a unique combination of art and function, that really has to be experienced to be understood and appreciated.

What you will find, however, is some beautifully crafted cocktails. The bar stocks only 20 different spirits, all selected during a blind tasting by experienced mixologist Remy Savage. These are combined to make 12 simple, stylish cocktails that will be some of the best you’ve ever experienced, despite the fact that they are pre-mixed. There’s no messing around here—you go in, pick your cocktail and take a seat. Minimalism personified and taste satisfaction guaranteed—there’s a reason why people queue around the block to get in here on a Saturday night!

Fearless freezersPanda & Sons, Scotland

Solasta cocktail Panda & Sons

What do you think would happen if you combined an ice cream scientist with a cocktail bar? The answer is Panda & Sons, an Edinburgh-based speakeasy that specialises in sub-zero freezing techniques that allows Iain McPherson, the owner, to separate the water from his spirits and replace it with other delicious ingredients—roasted coconut milk, for example.

He has also mastered the art of “sous pression”, which makes for a much smoother cocktail. This process takes the energy from the freezing process and infuses it into his drinks. 

To do this, he makes up a two-litre batch of a cocktail and pours it into a stainless steel container with any fruit or herbs he wants to infuse it with. He then freezes it for 36 hours. The energy expands into the garnishes, pulling out all the flavours. The unit is left to defrost completely before it is opened. The drink is then strained and any leftover fruit is used as a garnish. 

This wizardry takes place in the in-house basement, in an area the owner likes to call The Brain Melting Society. With his innovative cocktail science, he creates mouth-watering drinks that you just won’t find anywhere else, gaining him many awards and accolades and making his bar famous worldwide.

Zero waste heroes—Native, Singapore

Native Bar Singapore

Showing the world how to have a good time without being wasteful, Native has been open since 2017, when it exploded onto the bar scene with foraged ingredients and unusual garnishes. Ever had an ant in your cocktail? It’ll add an interesting citric twist to the drink!

But its attempts at sustainability don’t stop there. Instead of your typical bat mats, you’ll find coasters made of lotus leaves and reusable cloth towels instead of serviettes. The kitchen garden out back provides lots of cocktail ingredients and the whole two-story building is solar powered, making this a fossil-fuel-free zone.

When it comes to food, the preparation is meticulous, using seasonal, local ingredients like bamboo shoots and turning them into an incredible dish that takes almost a week to create. The shoots are soaked for five days and braised for one before being served with beef, duck and chicken in a stew.

The same attention is paid to the cocktails, even the non-alcoholic ones. Roselle is a bright pink concoction made with dragon fruit and roselle flowers, cooked with xylitol and shaken with Thai basil syrup and calamansi juice, to create a taste sensation. Who knew zero waste could taste so good?!

Super scentersFragrances Bar, Berlin

Fragrance cocktail

Everyone knows that half the taste of something is in its scent, so it is perhaps surprising that the world of mixology and perfumery hasn’t come together sooner! But that is the premise of Fragrances Bar in Berlin. The team work together to create cocktails that taste great, but also have aromas that work together in the same way a perfume would.

Soft lighting and stylish furnishings work the sight element, for a very pleasing aesthetic that makes you feel immediately comfortable. Then taste and scent come together—no matter which drink you choose from the carefully curated menu, the scientific structure of it will delight those senses. You’ll choose your first drink by using the Fragrance Wheel—a special tool that allows you to pick the aromas you like best and then select a cocktail based on these notes. 

And the scent-experience extends beyond the drinks too. The space is filled with aromas designed to complement your drinking experience. It is the most immersive bar you’ll ever enter, but one you’ll remember forever.

These are the bars pushing the boundaries of traditional cocktail design and pioneering a new wave of drinking experiences. If you ever find yourself passing one of these venues, you have to pop in and discover them for yourself.

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