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Providence has a new zero-waste cocktail program. Here's how to make the best drink on the menu

Providence has a new zero-waste cocktail program. Here's how to make the best drink on the menu
The Mano de Chango cocktail at Providence repurposes guava pulp and turns it into a fruit leather garnish for the drink. (Kyle Deven / Providence)

Sustainability and eliminating food waste are commitments that have provided the through line for much of the cuisine at Providence, chef Michael Cimarusti's seafood-focused restaurant, since it opened more than a decade ago on Melrose Avenue. But lead bartender Kim Stodel is attempting to take those concepts even further behind the bar. In the fall, the restaurant launched a zero-waste cocktail program that turns kitchen scraps and fruit and vegetable peels into liquor infusions and cocktail garnishes.

"I forage in the kitchen," said Stodel. "I'm always bugging the kitchen, saying: 'Hey, what are you using and what are you throwing away?'"

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This past summer, Stodel took the pulp of a cocktail sauce consommé served with oysters to make a Bloody Mary, mixing it with tequila he infused with roasted corn. In another cocktail, he took leftover orange peels and soaked them in water for 24 hours to make something he calls "astronaut juice." He uses that juice in a vodka drink called the Clever Hippie, made with passion fruit, velvet falernum (a spiced, sweet syrup) and sparkling wine.

Stodel shared his recipe for a drink he calls Mano de Chango, a tequila cocktail that incorporates housemade guava syrup, Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao, lime and grapefruit. Stodel repurposes the guava pulp from the syrup, turning it into a fruit leather garnish for the drink.

It tastes like a torqued up combination of a Paloma and a Sunrise, with a hit of fresh citrus juice and sweet guava. You can feel good about the no-waste element, but it's also one of the best tequila cocktails in the city right now.

The name translates to "monkey hand" in Spanish, which is the nickname a former co-worker gave Stodel during his time working at Bar Chloe in Santa Monica. "I was tall and he was short," said Stodel. "I'd reach for things for him. And the first time I ever made fruit leather from scrap was with him."

The Mano de Chango is on the current cocktail menu at Providence, but it might not be for long. Since the aim is to create zero waste, Stodel changes the menu often to reflect what's in season, and what's leftover in the kitchen.

"I basically figured out a way to hack the kitchen," said Stodel.

If you're looking for a way to hack your own kitchen, maybe start with the Mano de Chango. Or Stodel suggests using pasta water to make a starchy simple syrup or parsnip peels to infuse vodka. At this rate, you'll be a world-saving imbiber in no time.

MANO DE CHANGO

5 minutes (not including times to make the guava syrup or fruit leather). Makes 1 cocktail

GUAVA SYRUP

14 ounces fresh guava, about 10 fruit

2 cups sugar

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1. Peel and slice the guava. Place in a glass or other nonreactive bowl with the sugar and water, mixing occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and refrigerate the mixture until ready to strain (ideally, this can be done a day in advance and left overnight in the refrigerator).

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2. Strain the syrup from the fruit pulp, keeping the pulp to make the fruit leather (you should have a generous cup of pulp). This makes a generous 2 cups syrup, which will keep, covered and refrigerated, about 1 week.

GUAVA FRUIT LEATHER

Guava fruit pulp (leftover from making the guava syrup)

1. In a blender, purée the guava pulp until smooth. Press the mixture through a fine sieve, straining out any seeds and solids.

2. Spread the guava purée in a thin layer over a silicone mat, parchment or foil (an offset spatula is best for this). The thickness of the fruit leather is a personal preference — the thinner the leather, the faster it will dry, and the more brittle it will become.

3. Place the guava in a dehydrator set to 135 degrees until dried, 3 to 6 hours, checking every hour or so to prevent the guava from over-drying. (Timing will vary depending on the thickness of the guava paste).

4. Remove the fruit leather and cut to desired pieces. Stodel prefers 5- by 3-centimeter (about 2 by 1¼ inches) slices to use as a garnish for the cocktail.

MANO DE CHANGO

¾ ounce prepared guava syrup

½ ounce lime juice

1 ounce grapefruit juice

½ ounce dry curaçao, preferably Pierre Ferrand

1½ ounces blanco tequila, preferably Angelisco

Guava fruit leather strip or fresh guava

1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the syrup, lime and grapefruit juice, curaçao and tequila with ice. Shake well.

2. Double-strain into a martini glass. Garnish and serve.

Each cocktail (without garnish): Calories 195; Protein 0; Carbohydrates 20 grams; Fiber 0; Fat 0; Cholesterol 0; Sugar 16 grams; Sodium 2 mg

Note: Adapted from a recipe by Providence lead bartender Kim Stodel.

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