This New Plant-Based Restaurant Will Serve Cocktails Made From Wasted Ingredients

Photo: Meaghan Dorman
To build the Reverse Monarch cocktail, celebrated New York bartender Meaghan Dorman begins by scouring the kitchen for cucumber scraps.

When creating the cocktail menu for XYST, the Mediterranean eatery from the lauded plant-based chef Matthew Kenney and Yves Jadot Restaurant Group opening November 1, Dorman made sustainability a priority. Her veggie-forward beverages are built from discarded and repurposed kitchen ingredients—which are 100 percent organic. "I see a great opportunity to collaborate with the kitchen," says Dorman, who adds that a bar-kitchen partnership "can ensure we use ingredients to the best of their potential and do not keep perishable items around that may go to waste."

Dorman’s overall beverage program is one that embraces the idea of “second use,” so in addition to playing with surplus kitchen ingredients, she’ll also reuse product. “Let’s look at what is left over, and turn that into a syrup, garnish, juice etc.,” says Dorman. In the case of the Reverse Monarch, Dorman makes her cucumber shrub (also called a "drinking vinegar") from leftover cucumber trimmings that the kitchen would normally toss and past-their-prime cucumber bar garnishes. She mixes the scraps with salt, pepper, and vegan cane sugar before macerating the mixture overnight. The next morning, everything goes into a blender with apple cider vinegar and white vinegar, then Dorman strains the mixture and adds the cocktail’s gin and vermouth.

Her veggie-forward beverages are built from discarded and repurposed kitchen ingredients—which are 100 percent organic.

Her Vineyard Sun cocktail (Sauvignon Blanc, peach liqueur, verjus, and hibiscus iced tea), meanwhile, gives used tea bags a second life. "Tea retains a lot of flavor after one steeping,” Dorman explains. So for all tea-based drinks she’ll brew the botanicals twice and blend the batches to extend the leaves’ use. And with the Crimson Spritz—Dorman's cool-weather take on summer's hottest libation—she'll juice the fruit "that's too ugly to plate—leftover skin and pieces from the kitchen."

To round out the produce-based ingredients, XYST will offer eco-conscious spirits. “I’m definitely looking at local products, but also benchmark items like Bombay Gin, which has an award-winning sustainable distillery, and has done a lot to educate the spirits business on changing practices to better serve the environment,” Dorman says.

Which entirely fits with Chef Kenney’s philosophy of environmentally friendly clean cuisine.

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Last year, Kenney debuted Double Zero, a vegan pizza concept in Manhattan's East Village. And now, for his second city effort, he’s scheming an all-day coastal European and North African menu built from seasonal and local ingredients—think small mezze dishes to start followed by larger family-style veg preps: dukkah avocado with preserved lemon; Tunisian spiced squash with curry leaves; and za’atar roasted carrots with pistachio yogurt and cumin wafer, to name a few.

And in addition to Dorman's cocktails, those looking to avoid booze will have the option to sip a slew of smoothies, juices, tonics, and caffeinated elixirs.

While Kenney and Dorman are still lining up the slate of purveyors from which they’ll source, depending on seasonality, many ingredients will come from the nearby Union Square Greenmarket as well as local farms like North Fork, Long Island-based Satur Farms and Blooming Hill Farm, located in the Hudson Valley.

While XYST marks an exciting foray into the world of expert tipples for Kenney, it likewise serves as a new frontier for Dorman, inspiring creativity in the name of general wellness for not just her customers, but for the world.

For more produce-based cocktail inspo, check out these recipes for an anti-inflammatory herbaceous cocktail and an upgraded Bloody Maria from Outside Institute founder Laura Silverman.

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