The pair collaborate with celebrated Taipei bar Fourplay to open Taiwan’s first eco-friendly cocktail bar. By Holly Graham.

Sam Kuan (formerly of Barules, Shanghai) has returned to his native Taiwan to open sustainability forward bar Reply with Luca Cinalli (formerly of Oriole and Nightjar, London) and owner of Taipei’s celebrated bar Fourplay, Allen Cheng. The bar and bistro, located in Taipei’s east district focuses on zero waste and sustainability.

Sustainability is proving to be more of a necessity rather than what some naysayers dubbed a “trend”, as our impact on the environment makes itself more and more apparent. While the bar industry is adopting some sustainable practices, progress still remains slow. Notable eco-allies currently putting in the work in Asia include Native (Singapore), Bar Trigona (Kuala Lumpur), PENICILLIN (Hong Kong) and Wasteland (Bangkok) among others, and here to join the fight is Reply. 

Sam, who has a degree in marine environment engineering, earned his stripes at Shanghai’s now closed Barules. He had put his mind to researching and incorporating sustainability and eco-friendliness into the bar industry for three years, devising ways to maximise environmental-friendly efforts and allow bars to easily achieve their green goals. His collaboration with Luca and Allen came about in 2019, while the three were chatting over Sam’s ideas, realising they all shared a similar vision. 

The bar aims to to be environmentally friendly in a number of ways, including minimising damage done to nature when acquiring natural ingredients; repurposing ingredients; reducing waste; using local produce; using natural cleaning products made from repurposed waste, disinfecting and cleaning with up to 99.9 percent effectiveness using O₃ water and UV light; using an industry-first one-piece, integrated mobile bar, which can be used for both outdoor and indoor events to reduce construction waste; using an 18-type recycling system and much more. 

When it comes to acquiring natural ingredients, Reply does so in a way that can reduce environmental harm. The bar’s core value is to coexist with nature and earth, and minimise impact on the environment by reducing waste when designing dishes and cocktails. Cocktails also draw inspiration from the land and culture, such as Gift to Mother Earth – inspired by the betel nut – which is prevalent in aboriginal Taiwanese culture. The drink is a combination of peppermint, cucumber, vanilla, Taiwanese incense cedar and sweet melons, to reflect mountain freshness.

Purple Sky

Reply’s cocktail menu will include more indigenous inspired cocktails to showcase their responsibility in protecting their homelands. “We will incorporate indigenous and traditional drinks from all around the world, all made with local ingredients, and will also properly handle ingredients that have been used, repurposing them into other materials in a manner that allows us to treat our environment with kindness,” says Sam. 

While lots of bars implement sustainable techniques into their food and drinks, Reply takes it up a notch by creating a zero waste venue. For example, Reply uses natural cleaning products made from repurposed waste, disinfecting and cleaning with up to 99.9 percent effectiveness using O₃ water and UV light. This also minimises the use of plastic bottles that traditional cleaning products come in. The bar also has a one-piece, integrated mobile bar, suitable for both outdoor and indoor events. This means if Reply has to change its location, the entire bar can be easily moved, removing the need to dismantle or rebuild it, and therefore reducing additional construction waste.

According to Reply’s research, bars typically use around 3000L of water a night, and one cocktail – from mixing to cleaning – uses around 2L of water. Waste from the bar – including cleaning products, bottles, fruit waste etc – can amass to over 15kg a night. “No one pays any attention to these numbers, but they are the reality of every single day,” Sam says. “Taiwan’s recycling rate is roughly 12 percent, but a lot of waste cannot be recycled and is discarded, buried or incinerated. Very little is actually repurposed for use.” 

Sam has designed new recycling boxes in response to this problem, adding to the current seven categories of plastic by including different coloured glass, creating a recycling system for 18 different types of waste to ensure each type of waste is recycled and repurposed. For example, bars go through lots of lemon peels, so Reply soaks them in alcohol and reuses them in the cleaning products. “We hope to use every ingredient to its fullest. After we’re done using them for our cocktails, we have to find other possible uses for them in order to achieve a true zero-waste solution,” says Sam.

The bar believes that protecting our environment is crucial, and taking part in recycling should be everyone’s mission, and hopes it can help raise awareness and get every food and beverage business to think about their responsibilities. “What more can we do for the Earth? The actions of one bar will not be able to influence the entire hospitality industry,” says Sam. “But Reply hopes to share its methods and experiences to inspire peers in the bar industry to take action.

Reply No. 10之2號, Lane 101, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106; +886 2 2778 8530;; @reply__taipei