You like to stay healthy. You care about the planet. You occasionally pair your fish tacos with an artfully crafted cocktail. That’s why, The Stoned Crab, known in Key West for serving the freshest locally sourced seafood, is now opening your new go-to bar: The Eco-Bar, the first and only environmentally friendly bar on the island to exclusively serve sustainable wine and spirits, organic eco-cocktails and craft-brewed beers. With herbs from the restaurant's’ own garden, seasonal fruit and vegetables from Florida farms, and all-natural, organic alcoholic bases, The Eco-Bar provides custom-made cocktails that pack an Earthy punch.
“If you’ve ever been fruit picking at a local organic farm or smelled a freshly cut sprig of rosemary, you know how utterly intoxicating fresh, organic produce can be,” explained Chris Holland, owner of The Stoned Crab Restaurant. “By utilizing organic or sustainable ingredients in our drinks, we protect the Earth and our bodies from the damaging effects of artificial ingredients. That’s why, at The Stoned Crab, we will no longer serve margaritas made with green syrup from a clunky, plastic container. The Eco-Bar now custom crafts cocktails for each customer using only organic ingredients!”
The idea for an all-natural, sustainable bar was partly inspired by Paul Menta, executive chef at The Stoned Crab and founder of the Key West Legal Rum Distillery. Each of Menta’s Florida sugar cane-based rums are six times distilled with local natural ingredients and made without preservatives. “It is possible to distill delicious, flavor-infused alcohol without the use of harmful artificial ingredients,” Menta explained. “Let’s be honest — no one is going to say that cocktails are healthy, but it’s a whole lot better to drink an organic cocktail with natural ingredients than one loaded with artificial sweeteners and preservatives.”
All of The Eco-Bar’s ingredients are sustainable, organic or biodynamic. This eliminates artificially flavored alcohols, like vanilla vodka, and vibrantly colored syrups, like pre-bottled mixers. Plus, everything is naturally sourced. “We’re committing to sustainability 100%,” Holland emphasized. “This includes every element of the bar, from the drinks themselves to the location from which the ingredients are sourced.”
Since each drink is handcrafted to-order, The Eco-Bar staff can create delicious, custom made drinks for any restaurant-goer. “Our bar is definitely different, and we understand that each person is different, too,” Menta said. “That’s why we want to make the most perfect cocktail our customers have ever tasted. They could choose a great cocktail from our ‘Eco-Bar Hit List,’ or simply ask the bartender to create a unique drink that’s just right for them.”
The Eco-Bar, said Menta, plays a vital role in The Stoned Crab experience. The Eco-Bar encourages diners to pair their cocktail with a complementing meal or vice versa. “We’re adding a meal recommendation on the cocktail menu beneath each drink to best illustrate optimal meal-drink pairings,” Menta explained. “A key lime mint mojito paired with a baked whole hogfish over banana leaves is an unbeatable combination. I can’t wait to share this experience with our customers.”
Additionally, for restaurant-goers who’d like to complement their meal with wine, the dinner menu now includes an organic wine pairing option beneath each dish. All of the restaurant’s biodynamic, non-GMO wine is kept in a nitrogen-pressurized keg, which entirely eliminates the problem of having a large excess of glass bottles to recycle. “Instead of bottles, we serve carafes of wine straight from our kegs,” Menta explained. “It’s sustainable and delicious.”
The Eco-Bar also strives to reduce its environmental impact by incorporating sustainable practices into its daily operations. According to Holland, the restaurant and bar recycle and compost waste. They have also made the transition to using only natural house cleaning products. “At this point, we are entirely driven by ecological responsibility,” Holland pointed out. “The restaurant’s main source of seafood is Three Hands Fish, a local seafood market, that is totally committed to fishing and delivering seafood in the most sustainable way possible. It’s fantastic that we can now say that our drinks are following suit!”
The Eco-Bar has already received a warm reception, says Holland, from local diners and hotel guests alike. “Drink sales are booming,” he stated. “The people of Key West care about their home and their planet; their support is a clear indication of that.”
For hi-res photography of The Stoned Crab and The Eco-Bar, click here.