Conscientious Mixing

At Bathtub Gin in New York City, Brendan Bartley lightens the carbon footprint.

Brendan Bartley, beverage director and head bartender at Manhattan’s Bathtub Gin, utilizes sustainable practices behind the bar.
Brendan Bartley, beverage director and head bartender at Manhattan’s Bathtub Gin, utilizes sustainable practices behind the bar. (Photo by Anthony Nader/

When Brendan Bartley was hired as head bartender of the Manhattan bar The 18th Room in 2018, he quickly made an impression. A vocal advocate for sustainable bar practices, Bartley made it his mission to minimize waste at the bar, which included sharing ingredients and packaging materials with the kitchen and using leftover citrus rinds to create his own cleaning products. “I’m always trying to eliminate waste not just in drinks but with produce behind the scenes as well,” he says. “I think having a lot of waste is generally done through laziness, and most waste problems can be fixed with just a few extra steps or just doing something different.” The bar’s owner, Dave Oz, was so impressed by Bartley’s approach that he brought him on as head bartender and beverage director at Bathtub Gin, The 18th Room’s neighboring sister bar. 

A 1920s-style speakeasy hidden behind a coffee shop, Bathtub Gin focuses on classic Prohibition era recipes and variations on the Gin & Tonic (cocktails are $16-$17). Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, the wildly popular Bathtub Gin has served 2.5 million cocktails to 1 million guests since opening in 2011. As beverage director and head bartender, Bartley—who has been in the hospitality industry since 2002—continues to bring Oz’s vision of a destination bar for gin and cocktail aficionados to life, while also implementing the sustainable practices he was known for at The 18th Room. His affinity for sharing ingredients from the venue’s kitchen to make his own tinctures and infusions is evident on his menu. For example, he uses fresh plums to make salted plum-infused Endless West Kazoku molecular sake, which is mixed with Teeling Small Batch Irish whiskey and soda water in his Wayne Wheeler Highball ($17). His Bath Club Sidecar ($17), meanwhile, features roasted bell pepper-infused Tanqueray No. Ten gin, Cointreau orange liqueur, house-made lemon citric acid, and house-made chamomile syrup. “Since taking over at Bathtub Gin I’ve tried to streamline the efficiency and consistency of the drinks program without changing its integrity,” Bartley says. “I have a niche for running minimal waste venues, and as a team we’ve tried to be more conscious of how we use things. Although it’s not in our founding identity, that philosophy is now an integral part of how we think as a team.” 

Bartley notes that the ingredients he likes to use in his cocktails change frequently depending on what’s at his disposal and what he finds interesting and new, but he’s especially fond of spirits made by people who aim to be environmentally, agriculturally, and socially conscious. “Since it takes up a lot of land, resources, and jobs to make spirits, brands and companies should be held responsible for their contributions to waste, not only bars and restaurants,” he says, adding that educating his team to improve their operation and be more sustainable is his favorite part of the job. “I want my coworkers to be better at their craft than when they started,” he says. “I think the transfer of knowledge is the single most important thing in the world. That alone is how we grow and evolve.”

Brendan Bartley’s Recipes

Wayne Wheeler Highball


2¼ ounces salted plum-infused Endless West Kazoku molecular sake¹;

¼ ounce Teeling Small Batch Irish whiskey; 

2½ ounces soda water; 

Plum slice; 

Lemongrass stalk.


Add sake and whiskey to a Highball glass, then soda, then ice. Give a light stir and garnish with a plum slice and lemongrass stalk.

¹Combine 50-ml. water and 5 grams sea salt in a bowl and stir until salt dissolves completely. In a blender, blend together the salt water, 250-ml. sake, 200 grams freshly pitted plums, and 10 grams lemongrass. Vacuum seal the mixture and leave at room temperature overnight, then fine strain, repeating if necessary until the liquid is completely clear.


Bath Tub Sidecar


1½ ounces roasted bell pepper-infused Tanqueray No. Ten gin²; 

½ ounce Cointreau orange liqueur; 

1 ounce lemon citric acid³; 

¼ ounce chamomile syrup⁴; 

Roasted bell pepper jam⁵.


In an ice-filled mixing glass, combine gin, liqueur, citric acid, and syrup. Stir until diluted, then strain into a coupe glass. Paint roasted bell pepper jam on half of the rim.

²Roast 300 grams red bell peppers until the skin is blackened. Store in a covered bowl in the fridge overnight. The next day, peel off the skin and take out seeds and inside contents. Coarsely chop bell pepper flesh and combine with 1 liter gin in a covered container and leave in fridge for 2 days. Fine strain until liquid is clear (make sure to squeeze out any liquid in the bell peppers). Reserve bell pepper flesh for pepper jam (recipe below). 

³Combine 100 grams lemon peel, 1 liter water, 90 grams citric acid, and 10 grams malic acid in a bowl. Stir until acids dissolve completely. Store in a covered container in the fridge overnight, then fine strain until liquid is clear. 

⁴Combine 500-ml. water and 20 grams chamomile flowers in a pot and on high heat for 30 minutes. Add 750 grams white sugar and stir until sugar dissolves completely. Store in a covered container in the fridge overnight, then strain until liquid is clear. 

⁵Finely blend leftover roasted bell peppers from the gin infusion with 2 grams yellow mustard, 10 grams honey, and 1 gram salt. Pass through a mesh strainer and store in a jar.