Rebecca and Rico Show Bartenders How to Get More Out of Their Ingredients

Rebecca Leon and Ricardo Dynan. Photo: Eric Tapper/The Absolut Company.

Rebecca León and Rico Dynan started working together in 2014, when they joined Absolut’s Brand Advocacy team. Thanks to their distinct backgrounds – Rebecca studied law and went through Pernod Ricard’s graduate program, while Rico worked as a bartender for over a decade – they’re bringing their own set of ideas to the team’s effort of raising awareness of Absolut’s products and understanding of the brand’s values within the bartending community. 

One of the team’s latest projects, The Green Hustle, launched last fall and Rebecca’s and Rico’s contribution has been essential in making it a reality and an instant success.

What is The Green Hustle?

Rico: The idea of The Green Hustle was born when my colleague Bex Almqvist, Trash Tiki and I locked ourselves in a room for two days to hatch out ideas. We went in with just one thing on the agenda: to come up with an idea that could inspire bartenders into becoming more sustainable in their day-to-day job. What we finally arrived at was The Green Hustle. To start with, we created a 90-minute seminar – “The Rally” – to explain our message and claims to sustainability. This was launched through Absolut Invite, our Global bartender competition. 

Now, a few months later, the rally is gathering hundreds of bartenders all over the world in search for inspiration and wanting to become more sustainable in their jobs. One thing which is central to the rally is encouraging people to try out our easy-to-use sustainable ‘hacks’ – like for instance making lime stock made from leftover limes, which saves both ingredients and money. 

Why do you call it a rally?

Rico: We wanted to show what our brand is really about, and present something that is true to the rebelliousness of the brand. If we wanted, we could have called it a sustainability seminar – but to be honest, it just sounds a little boring. For most people, sustainability is just boring. It turns people off. So, we call it a rally instead, because we want to inspire and generate some energy around these issues. And we also want show that by implementing these hacks, you’re not only doing something good for the environment, it’s also a fun way to experiment with the ingredients you have available – and a way to save money.

But sustainability must surely play a big part?

Rebecca: Yes, definitely. When Rico first told me about this idea, I knew we had to make this a big deal. The main reason is because of Absolut’s credibility when it comes to sustainability. We have one of the most energy-efficient distilleries in the world, we work closely with farmers to create sustainable farming practices and we’re closely knit with the local community in Åhus. What the guys in Åhus are doing is way ahead of anyone else in the industry in terms of sustainability. 

What would constitute a success for The Green Hustle?

Rebecca: We’re not pointing any fingers or telling anyone what to do or how to do it. The Green Hustle is simply a way to highlight that it’s easy to make small changes towards the better. We’re saying that whatever you do is good, no matter how big or small, it’s all about small changes making a big impact. And if you want to be part of that change you should share your experiences and we will broadcast it. You want to get rid of plastic straws once a week? Good, you’re saving the environment. You want to make full use of your pineapples by having three pineapple drinks on your menu rather than just one? Even better! That’s the change of mindset we’re trying to instigate. 

What’s the next step?

Rico: This is all about building a knowledge hub for sustainable techniques, hacks and skills in the bartender community. But this movement has just started. A decade ago, nobody was talking about sustainability in bars, but the last few years we’ve seen other industries – like the food industry – take that step. Now, it’s time for our industry to also show that we care. And so far, the response has been great. Just take the lime stock, which is one of the big hits. I receive texts and photos all the time from people who attended the rallies and now are cooking their own stock.

Rebecca: Yeah, and let’s not forget what The Green Hustle also does, which is reminding people why you go to bars. You do it to have a good time, to enjoy your drinks and cocktails and to meet new interesting people. That’s why we’re emphasizing words like experimentation and inspiration, and why we never compromise on having fun. It’s also the reason why all the knowledge and the experiences shared within The Green Hustle is treated as an open source. You just pick what you enjoy and go from there.