Mercifully, the days of people laughing at vegans for not willingly mashing up a pig and turning it into sausages are behind us, and for the most part, people are getting with the programme.
Even when it comes to drinking, ranges of vegan wines and beers are becoming much more readily available and, as they are evolving, becoming much more delicious. Is it the same with cocktails, though? For the most part, yes, there are plentiful vegan options when it comes to cocktail ingredients. However, several classic cocktails aren’t suitable for vegans. But, there are simple and effective vegan alternatives that your guests will enjoy.
Classic Cocktails Free From Animal Products
If you like your cocktails sharp and sweet, try a totally animal-free Daiquiri. Bacardi rums do not contain any animal-by products or ingredients.
Per serve, add two shots (50ml) of Bacardi Carta Blanca to a shaker. Add 25ml of freshly squeezed lime juice and 25ml of vegan sugar syrup (1:1 dissolved sugar and warm water). Add ice, shake it like you hate it and strain into a coupette glass.
Vegan-friendly, tart, zingy and delicious.
It doesn’t get any simpler than a Gimlet. Preferred by Raymond Chandler’s private eye Philip Marlowe, the Gimlet is a masterclass of simplicity, form and function. There are many variants of this classic, but this one should be an absolute belter in summer. Bombay Sapphire gin is suitable for vegans.
Per serve, add two shots of Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin and two shots of Rose’s lime cordial (we’ve checked, its vegan). Shake this over ice and watch your mind get blown with how something so simple could be so preposterously delicious.
Dairy Alternative Cocktail Ingredients
It’s all well and good with these two, but how can you channel your inner ‘Dude’ without a White Russian or enjoy the foamy texture of Whiskey Sour? Never fear.
The beauty of a White Russian made vegan friendly is that you actually have a lot of different avenues you can walk down in terms of flavour. Dairy alternative kinds of milk can be massively different from one another, and your White Russians can be specced out to your preference. Try almond soy, oat or coconut milk mixed 50:50 with a thick cream alternative like Oatly Creamy or Elmlea Plant to make your half & half.
Either way, you’re going to want to (per serve) add 50ml of Grey Goose vodka to a shaker, along with 20ml of coffee liqueur, 30ml of half & half alternative and 5ml of sugar syrup. Shake gently to homogenise the ingredients and serve over ice. If you haven’t got time for that, just fill a glass with ice and pour the vodka, coffee liqueur and milk in equal parts.
Sours are traditionally prepared with egg white. Time was, you would simply remove the egg white and proceed, but the beauty of a whiskey sour, or indeed any Sour, is the texture, and egg white is crucial to making the foam. Or so you might think. There are vegan foamers available in specialist shops, like Foamee or Ms. Better’s Miraculous Foamer, but all you really need is the water from a can of chickpeas — or aquafaba.
Per serve, add 50ml of Dewar’s White Label to a shaker, along with a shot of lemon juice and 20ml of sugar syrup. Now take 20ml of aquafaba and add this to the mix. Shake these ingredients dry (without ice) and then shake again with ice.
This will give you a wonderful silky texture that will make your drinks stay sophisticated. Serve in a rocks glass or tumbler over ice, and for goodness sake, enjoy.
Vegan alternatives are not inferior in any way, and in some cases, can be wildly more delicious than their non-vegan counterparts. As always, the only way to find out is to broaden your horizons and dip your toes into the waters of vegan cocktails, starting with these simple but effective drinks.
Items to Check Before You Serve
Some ingredients are obvious, but it’s worth looking at the production methods in detail if you want to be consistent for your vegan customers.
Ingredients to look out for include:
Sugar: Some sugar producers use bone char to refine their sugar. This is a product made from cattle bones. Buy vegan alternatives where possible.
Honey: Vegans don’t want to exploit animals for their by-products, including bees. Try a plant-based syrup like maple, agave or vegan honey.
Fining Agents: Some alcohol producers use animal by-product like isinglass, chitin, lactose or casein to refine or add flavour to their liquid. Usually, the manufacturer will label it safe for vegans if they have removed this step from their process. Always check individual unit labels.
Gelatine: This additive gives things a jelly-like texture. It’s made from animal skin, bones, and cartilage. Keep an eye out for it in marshmallow or jellied garnishes.
Cochineal and carmine: Carmine, a red dye made out of cochineal insects, is added to red beverages for colour. Campari stopped using this traditional dye, but look out for older bottles and other branded aperitivos.
Fortunately, nearly all distilled spirits are vegan except for cream-based liqueurs and products that mention honey on the label. Great for the planet and not a single change in taste or quality. Cheers to that.