Veganism continues to gather pace as people look to alternative ways of eating and drinking for a ton of reasons from sustainability, thorugh to healthy living and just not feeling comfortable eating animal products.
The food movement came first in the mainstream and drinks quickly followed with many brands popping up offering fully vegan products. In this post we’ll unpack some of the drinks and venues that tick the vegan box.
To think a beer, wine or cocktail might contain animal products is frankly all kinds of weird but it’s a fact that many alcoholic bevvies contain animal products….who knew eh.
Many popular alcoholic drinks aren’t vegan, as lots have animal products (like dairy or honey) in their ingredients, whilst others rely on non-vegan filtration processes.
Even for non-vegans its a strange concept to embrace that your pint of lager or glass of wine could contain animal products but be aware…many alcohol brands use animal products in the production of their liquid.
Surprisingly Non-Vegan Drinks
Many beers, including Fosters, Carling and Kronenbourg, are filtered using isinglass, a membrane that comes from the bladders of tropical fish. This protein is used to give the beer an aesthetically pleasing, clear texture that we beer-drinkers love.
Other traditional and non-vegan beer filtration products include gelatin (a protein found in animal skin, ligaments, tendons, hooves and bones), glycerin (which can be made from plant oil or from animal fats and many beer ingredients labels will not specify which type) and casein (a milk ingredient). Eye opening.
The wine filtration process is also traditionally not vegan as it often includes casein, egg whites, gelatin or isinglass. Brands like Barefoot use traditional methods when fining their wine. These include gelatin, proteins from fish or animal products and milk or eggs.
Spirits, unlike beer and wine, are made through distillation. This process doesn’t involve any animal products, so most unflavored spirits are vegan.
However, some brands combine spirits with other ingredients like honey, cream or milk to create different flavours. Honey flavoured rums and whiskies and creamy liqueurs are the main ones to watch out for.
Another thing to watch out for is carmine, a red dye made from scaly insects, which is added to some spirits for colour. While Campari doesn’t use carmine to achieve its signature colour, alternatives to it might.
Non-Vegan Cocktail Ingredients
Coffee and dessert cocktails, like White Russians or Mudslides, often contain dairy either as cream, milk or ice-cream.
The frothy top of a cocktail is often due to egg whites. The protein traps air in the drink without adding extra flavour. Sours often use egg whites to tone down sharpness and add texture.
Some orange juices like Tropicana Pure Premium Healthy Heart contain fish oil and fish gelatin, so think twice before ordering that for the cosmos.
Read more: So When Did They Start Putting Juice in Cocktails Anyway?
Beware of the bubbles – some fizzy drinks use ester gum, also known as ‘glycerol ester of wood rosin’, which is often a derivative of animal fats, and some colas use insect-derived dyes.
Use Barnivore to check if the drinks you most commonly use are vegan-friendly.
Vegan Drinks and Cocktails
Thankfully, there are other animal-friendly filtration alternatives, so vegan beer and wine aren’t too hard to come by.
- Budweiser & Bud Light
- Coors and Coors Light
- Goose Island
- Guinness Original and Blonde American Lager
- Heineken (excluding ciders)
- Stella Artois (excluding ciders)
Vegan Wine & Sparkling
Our top choices for vegan white wines are Meinklang Grüner Veltliner Burgenland, Austria 2016, for its distinct savoury flavours of herb, celery salt and white pepper, and Grüner Veltliner 2016 Ebner-Ebenauer, from the small Austrian vineyard that is run by a husband and wife duo.
Two of our favourite vegan red wines are Finca Las Moras Black Label Cabernet Cabernet Reserve 2013, an Argentinian red with slightly spicy blackberry aromas and an underlying hint of dark chocolate, and Saint-Auriol Corbières France 2016, a dark and spicy red with liquorice, rosemary and berry notes.
Top brands, such as Piper-Heidsieck, Moet & Chandon and Champagne Thienot are 100% vegan-friendly, but if you’re after something with a smaller price tag, these are our favourite vegan options:
Graham Beck The Rhona Rose for its intense berry flavours, Belletti Prosecco, a great value, dry fizz and Skinny Prosecco, as it contains fewer calories and sugar than your average bottle.
Check out our millennial’s guide to sparkling wine for everything you need to know about fizz.
5 Vegan Cocktails
Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz
For a vegan twist on our sloe gin fizz, swap the egg white for Miraculous Foamer or aquafaba (the liquid leftover from cooked chickpeas) to achieve the same foamy texture.
40ml sloe gin
25ml lemon juice
1 drop of Ms Betters Miraculous Foaming Bitters
Vegan Bloody Mary
The ingredient that makes a normal Bloody Mary non-vegan is the Worcester sauce, which contains fish. You might not be able to find a vegan version in the supermarket but there are tons of recipes for vegan Worcester sauce online.
80ml Tomato Juice
5 Drops Tabasco Sauce
15ml Vegan Worcester Sauce
15ml Fresh Lemon Juice
3 Pinches Celery Salt
2 Pinches Onion Salt
Freshly Ground Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Rock Salt
Combine all the ingredients in an iced cocktail shaker. Roll the ingredients between two shakers. Strain into an iced collins glass and garnish.
Vegan White Russian
All Big Lebowski fans will love this vegan White Russian. Substituting the cream for almond milk and soy cream, make the drink using:
25ml almond milk
25ml soy cream
Sangria is a cocktail that’s very easy to customise to personal taste. Try different combinations of wine and fruit until you find the perfect one for you.
750ml Dry White Wine (make sure it’s vegan)
125ml Peach Schnapps
2tbsp Golden Caster Sugar
1 Sliced Lime
1 Sliced Orange
1 Cinnamon Stick
250ml Soda Water
Mix the Wine, Cointreau, Schnapps, sugar, lime, orange and cinnamon in a bowl, then chill the mixture. To serve, combine the chilled mixture with ice and soda water in a jug.
Recipe serves 4.
This one is a pretty safe bet for vegans (unless honey-flavoured Bourbon has been used) but we’ve included it because it’s a Cocktail Service Favourite. In fact, it topped our list of the top cocktails of 2020.
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 Brown Sugar Cube
Garnish: Flamed Orange Peel
Put the sugar and bitters in a small tumbler and muddle them together. Introduce the Bourban and ice and stir. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with orange peel.
Our Favourite Vegan (and Vegan-Friendly) Establishments
Got to rep one of Oxfords own, given this is our backyard, The Punter has relatively recently reimagined itself into a vegan-friendly boozer. Located in affluent west Oxford, the pub is perched on the canal and has that gastro-pub chic with a cracking garden out back. Be prepared for some seriously good food and drinks in this popular pub which is only a hop, skip and jump from the city centre.
Brighton is one of the unsung heroes of British nightlife and one of the most vegan-friendly places you could hope to stumble upon. The Hope & Ruin – a bar like no other, it’s packed to the hilt with character and possesses a distinct charm about the place that the locals love. There are events galore here as well as a banging live music programme to boot (it’s primarily a music venue). Vegan bevvies and food are the order of the day with a straightforward but tasty menu from street food maestros Beelzebab.
Located in the trendy Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, Farmacy bucks every preconception of vegan eateries. Light, contemporary and with a mega food and drink menu, Farmacy is super popular with London’s hip crowd which says everything really.
The Spread Eagle is one of London’s original vegan establishments and leading the emerging trend. the food is varied and well reviewed but the thing we care about the most (obviously) is the drinks. They have a great menu – a full selection of vegan-friendly cocktails, wines and beers. A painstaking drinks programme, as every cocktail ingredient and product needs to be sourced, tried and tested. Worth a visit if you are down London way.