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.