Straw retribution came swiftly in 2018. With the passing of laws both abroad in the U.K and at home in California banning the distribution of disposable plastic straws, big company after big company—Starbucks to Hilton to American Airlines—vowed to rid their beverages of the product as quickly as possible.
Solutions in the quick-service world include everything from adult sippy cups to paper straws, while many consumers now carry their own bamboo, metal, and silicone varieties. But a lot of these consumer-geared reusable straws require tiny, specialized tools to clean the products by hand—which are not conducive for professional use.
Most bartenders, who see the volume of trash collected from plastic straws firsthand, note the need for a standout reusable option.
"Plastic has been and still is a great burden for the environment, so it's time to change the rules," says Bruno Molfetta of Bar 314 in New York.
"Plus reusable straws look better," says Maxx Kleiner of Carnivale in Chicago.
But many agree there isn't a perfect solution to this debate.
While cleaning reusable straws doesn't seem to bother Molfetta—who notes a good rinse in hot water or soak in a vinegar and baking soda solution is all that is needed—others, especially those experiencing a higher volume of traffic, don't see reusable products as sanitary or practical behind the bar.
"I think that reusable straws are a great idea for small-volume venues with an attention to detail. However, at a restaurant like ours, where we serve over 500 guests on busy nights, it is not an option," says Brice Peressini at Vancouver's The Victor.
Establishments like Restaurant Holmes in Alpharetta, Georgia, Chotto Matte in Miami, and national chain Black Angus Steakhouse are transitioning to paper straws, like those sold by Aardvark. "Because of the sanitary issues that can arise with reusable straws, you won't see them at our restaurants," says Amanda Rosenbloom of Black Angus Steakhouse.