Get us in your inbox

Zest Seoul
Photo: Zest SeoulZest Seoul

Zest leads the way as Seoul’s first Bar of Tomorrow

Zest is Seoul’s pioneering Bar of Tomorrow and champion of sustainability

Time Out Seoul in partnership with Pernod Ricard

At Zest, nothing goes to waste. The fine-drinking cocktail bar sources its ingredients from around South Korea and upcycles any leftovers into different components for its drinks. Take for instance the Jeju Garibaldi, which utilises the juice of the hallabong fruit while its peels are redistilled into Zest’s house gin and the leftover pulp transformed into a cordial or fermented to make a pulp sauerkraut.

It's this playful experimentation and commitment to zero waste that has earned Zest the honour of being crowned Time Out Seoul’s first Bar of Tomorrow. Created in partnership with The Bar World of Tomorrow, the Bar of Tomorrow Award celebrates the bar in the city that is leading the charge towards sustainability and striving to raise the standards of the industry. 

Dedicated to creating a new and inclusive bar culture, The Bar World of Tomorrow is a worldwide movement that supports the shift towards a more sustainable and responsible bartending community. It is a collaborative effort between Pernod Ricard, Trash Collective, and the Sustainable Restaurant Association

Time Out has identified four outstanding bars that are making a positive environmental impact. These nominees were then evaluated the Sustainable Restaurant Association, which has then independently crowned Zest as Bar of Tomorrow based on criteria such as waste management, mindful product sourcing, employee well-being and fair salary practices.

Here’s a closer look at why Zest is Time Out Seoul’s Bar of Tomorrow 2023.

Seoul's Bar of Tomorrow

  • Restaurants

Zest impressed the judges at the Sustainable Restaurants Association with its clear commitment to sustainability throughout all aspects of the business. Here's what the SRA had to say about why Zest was selected out of the four nominees.

"The bar itself is deliberately minimalist to prevent unnecessary materials or accompaniments, for example garnishes aren’t offered unless they have a purpose and PET and aluminium is banned, with all carbonated drinks made in-house.

Zest clearly understands that sustainability isn’t only about the bar’s environmental impact though. Aiming to create a sustainable ‘fine-drinking’ culture through responsibility towards its guests, community and producers stands out. From spirits and glassware to uniforms, Zest collaborates with local artisans, micro-distilleries and community projects to source as much as it can locally.

Staff are also clearly valued, with an incentive programme, meal plan, travel support and overtime management processes all in place. Staff are also given the opportunity to take part in industry events and mentoring placements to further their industry experience and education. The staff handbook covers everything from Zest’s responsible drinking policy to training on waste management and recycling."

Zest represents a big leap forward in South Korea's bar scene, defying conventions and redefining the art of fine drinking. Led by the formidable quartet of Demie Kim, Sean Woo, Jisu Park, and Noah Kwon, Zest's innovative approach extends beyond crafting exceptional cocktails. They have embarked on a sustainable revolution, sourcing local ingredients and ingeniously repurposing ingredients to minimize waste.

From its inception, Zest has been driven by a commitment to sustainability. The visionary team united under shared principles of locality, minimalism, experimentation, seasonality, and community, fueling their determination to implement sustainable practices despite the scarcity of precedents in the Korean bar scene.

Sean Woo, the co-founder of Zest, shares that the core of Zest’s ethos lies in understanding that sustainability encompasses far more than just the natural environment. “Sustainability is a discourse that spans many areas such as connection and participation with the community, distribution channels, working environment, and governance,” says Sean. “There are so many bars that make delicious cocktails. We used to drink to get drunk but now we enjoy cocktails with our minds – the era of conscious consumption has arrived.” 

Sean elaborates, “The biggest fear was whether we were doing something we couldn't handle. Running a sustainable bar isn't just running a business well – it was a big decision to change the life of each member of our team.” While Zest’s journey has not been without fears and uncertainties, today, it stands tall as an unwavering champion of sustainability, with Time Out’s Bar of Tomorrow Award as a testament to its success.

The pursuit of sustainability extends beyond the bar counter at Zest. Vegan hand soaps in reusable containers and the use of hand towels in place of single-use tissues exemplify its commitment to reducing environmental impact. Guests are served in glassware collaboratively crafted with local artisans, while Zest’s bar uniforms are fashioned from recyclable materials further emphasising its dedication to eco-consciousness. Even the menus are meticulously manufactured using green energy and organic materials.

Zest stands as a beacon of progress, leading Seoul's bar scene into an exciting era of sustainable mixology. Zest's revolutionary approach inspires and sets a new benchmark for the industry and we are proud to honour them as Time Out Seoul’s first Bar of Tomorrow.

The Bar World of Tomorrow

By adopting eco-conscious methodologies, we have the opportunity to revolutionise the future of mixology. Embracing sustainability will not only enhance the guest experience but also attract an ever-growing community of conscious consumers who appreciate the art of the cocktail with a clear conscience.

Inspired to embark on your own sustainable journey? Look no further than the Bar World of Tomorrow. This visionary initiative aims to empower 10,000 bartenders by 2023, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to craft exceptional cocktails while nurturing a more sustainable planet. Through this comprehensive program, participants gain invaluable insights, practical expertise, and a deep understanding of sustainability, fostering a new era of eco-conscious mixologists.

Let us raise our glasses to Zest, the epitome of the Bar of Tomorrow. May its unwavering dedication to sustainability serve as a catalyst for change, inspiring the global bar community to reimagine the future of mixology, one environmentally friendly libation at a time.


in partnership with 


    You may also like
    You may also like