Discover 10+ vegan cocktail recipes perfect for any occasion. From refreshing spritzers to indulgent margaritas 🌱🍹
The Rise of Vegan Cocktails
With more people adopting plant-based diets and lifestyles, demand for vegan food and drink options has skyrocketed. This includes cocktails – mixed drinks containing spirits, liqueurs, juices or other ingredients. While many classic cocktails are naturally vegan, some rely on dairy, eggs or other animal products. Thankfully, cocktail culture is evolving with the times. Creative mixologists have devised ingenious methods to “veganize” cocktails, swapping out non-vegan components for plant-based alternatives without compromising on texture or flavor. This allows vegans, vegetarians, and anyone seeking to reduce their consumption of animal products to partake in quality craft cocktails.
What Makes Some Cocktails Not Vegan?
Several common cocktail ingredients derive from animals or animal byproducts, meaning cocktails containing them are not vegan-friendly. These include:
- Eggs – Used for texture, emulsification and frothing. Egg whites especially give drinks a foamy quality when shaken or whipped.
- Dairy – Milk, cream, butter and cheeses lend richness and creaminess.
- Honey – A sweetener used in some cocktail recipes.
- Gelatin – Derived from animal collagen, sometimes used to alter the mouthfeel.
- Isinglass – Obtained from fish swim bladders, used to filter and clarify some wines and beers.
- Shellac – A glaze from insect secretions applied to citrus peels.
- Carmine/Cochineal – Red food coloring from crushing insects, found in some liqueurs.
Many classic cocktails feature egg, cream or honey, including whiskey sours, piña coladas, eggnog and Irish coffees. Thankfully, cocktail makers have found ingenious substitutions to veganize these and other drinks.
Vegan Alterations to Classic Cocktails
With a few simple swaps and adjustments, classic cocktails can be made vegan-friendly:
- Whiskey Sour – The egg white is typically used to create a foamy texture. Aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) can be whipped into soft peaks and folded in instead.
- White Russian – Traditionally contains cream, but this can be substituted with non-dairy milk like coconut, almond or oat milk.
- Piña Colada – Uses coconut cream instead of dairy cream for a creamy, tropical flavor.
- Margarita – Honey is sometimes added as a sweetener. Agave nectar makes a good vegan alternative.
- Irish Coffee – Coconut cream or soy creamer lend richness instead of heavy whipping cream.
- Bloody Mary – Worcestershire sauce usually contains anchovies, so swap in mushroom or walnut-based Worcestershire alternatives.
- Gimlet – Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice contains carmine coloring. Fresh lime juice sweetened with agave avoids this.
- Martinez – The vermouth is sometimes filtered with isinglass. Seek out vegan-certified vermouth instead.
- Manhattan – Use vegan maraschino cherries as a garnish instead of traditional cherries preserved with pig gelatin.
With a diverse array of plant-based ingredients, the possibilities for vegan cocktails are endless. The key substitutions include non-dairy milks, aquafaba, coconut cream, agave nectar, and vegan versions of vermouths and sauces.
Aquafaba – The Vegan “Egg White”
Aquafaba refers to the viscous liquid canned chickpeas are packed in. Whipping aquafaba mimics the effect of whipping egg whites, creating a light, fluffy foam perfect for drinks like whiskey sours or gin fizzes. The chickpea brine contains soluble plant proteins that enable foaming, setting and emulsification properties highly similar to egg whites. This makes aquafaba a seamless substitution in vegan cocktails. It can be used alone or blended with juices and crushed ice for thicker, creamier textures.
Coconut Cream/Milk – The Vegan Dairy
Coconut cream and milk are perfect non-dairy substitutes that lend creamy richness and body to cocktails. Most drink recipes calling for cream or milk can be effortlessly adapted with coconut products. Using the thick coconut cream layer from a can of full-fat coconut milk mimics the density of heavy cream. Coconut milk and coconut water offer lighter bases for blended cocktails. Coconut lends a subtle sweetness and tropical essence that pairs deliciously with rum, vodka, gin and other spirits.
Simple Syrups & Nectars – Vegan Sweeteners
Refined white sugar contains bone char from cattle or pigs. Vegan simple syrup utilizes organic sugar, or coconut sugar which caramelizes for a deep, rich sweetness. Nectars like agave and maple syrup provide silky texture and nuanced flavors ranging from light and floral to deep, earthy notes depending on variety. Date syrup made from blended, reduced dates offers another mineral-rich sweetener option.
10 Vegan Cocktails to Try
Creative mixologists have crafted incredible original vegan cocktails. Here are some stellar vegan cocktail recipes to mix up:
Coconut Whisky Sour – Bulleit Bourbon, aquafaba, coconut cream, lemon juice, agave nectar
Watermelon Mint Julep – Bulleit Rye Whiskey, watermelon juice & purée, mint, lime juice, agave
Paloma Verde – Corralejo Reposado Tequila, coconut water, lime juice, agave, cucumber
Hurricane – Spiced rum, passionfruit, orange & lime juices, falernum, ginger beer
Lychee Lemondrop Martini – Vodka, lychee purée, lemon juice, agave nectar
Matcha Sake-Tini – Gin, matcha powder, sake, agave nectar
Blue Hawaiian – Light rum, blue curaçao, pineapple & coconut cream, lime juice, cherry
Plumtini – Gin, plum wine, curacao, lime juice, agave nectar
Ginger Pear Smash – Bourbon, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, pear purée, lemon
Raspberry Rose Collins – Gin, raspberry shrub, rose water, lemon juice, soda
The creativity of vegan mixology is boundless. Botanical infusions, fruit purées, nut milks, teas, cold-pressed juices, spices, herbs, and other plant-based ingredients can elevate vegan cocktails to new heights of flavor, complexity and nutrition.
Vegan Spirits, Wines and Liqueurs
Many base spirits like vodka, tequila, mezcal, gin and whiskey are vegan by nature. Some rum, bourbon and other aged spirits use honey or lactose for sweetness and viscosity. Verifying bottle labels is key. Fortunately, a growing selection of spirits proudly promote their vegan status, like Empress 1908 Gin, Tattersall Distilling vodkas, Koval whiskeys, and more.
Wine can be filtered using animal products like isinglass, egg albumen or casein. Seek out vegan-certified labels, or contact producers directly to check filtration methods. Organic and biodynamic wines avoid more additives.
Some liqueurs contain dairy, honey or carmine food coloring. Kahlúa is vegan-friendly, along with fruit-based liqueurs like Chambord. Imported Advocaat (egg liqueur) can be swapped for vegan versions availabe online.
Resources like Barnivore help identify vegan wine, beer and liquor options. Home bartenders can infuse their own spirits with botanicals for ultimate control over ingredients.
The realm of vegan drinks spans far beyond cocktails. An increasing array of beers, wines, spirits, coffees, teas, sodas, juices and other beverages cater to vegan preferences. Home mixologists can easily concoct smoothies, shakes, juices and infusions from raw fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices for nutrient-dense, preservative-free vegan libations. With some creative substitutions, vegans need not miss out on flavor or variety when it comes to plant-based potables.
As a distilled spirit, vodka is inherently vegan. Premium vodkas like Chopin, Prairie Organic, Deep Eddy’s and Ocean rely solely on potatoes, grains or grapes with no additives. Flavored vodkas introduce potential ingredients like milk products or honey, so check labels. Thankfully, brands clearly marking their vodkas as “vegan” are on the rise. Infusing vodka at home with fruit, herbs or spices yields endless possibilities for inventive vegan spirits.
Most gins are vegan, focusing on juniper berries, botanical extracts and pure spirits. Excellent vegan gin labels include The Botanist, Junipero, Nolet’s, and Empress 1908 Gin infused with butterfly pea flower. As with vodka, steer clear of milk or honey in flavored gins. For DIY flair, use ingredients like cucumbers, rosemary, lavender, berries or citrus to infuse a crisp homemade gin.
Spiced rums may contain honey, so opt for organic blends or flavor your own rum with vanilla, spices, coconut, fruit and more for a vegan tropical twist. Top vegan rums include Diplomatico Mantuano, Kōloa Hawaiian Rum and Don Q Cristal. For daiquiris or piña coladas, use pineapple juice or coconut cream for a rich, non-dairy base.
“Mocktails” allow anyone to enjoy fruity, spicy and soothing cocktails minus the alcohol. Endless combinations of fresh juices, teas, spices, herbs and garnishes craft refreshing, nuanced mocktails. Blend coconut water, mango and lime for a virgin piña colada. Shake pineapple juice, ginger syrup and mint. Add cranberries and rosemary to lemonade or club soda. Concoct a spiced apple cider mocktail with cinnamon sticks. Drizzle homemade sweet-and-sour mix over seltzer with an orange twist. The options are boundless.
The simplest martini comprises just gin and vermouth, without dairy or eggs. Dirty martinis (olive juice) and vespers (vodka and gin) are also vegan classics. Expand into chocolate, berry, or other fruit variations using juices and vegan liqueurs. Aquafaba makes a stellar vegan replacement for egg white in fizzier gin or vodka martinis. Upscale with gourmet olives, pickled onions or artisan caper berries for briny, bold garnishes.
Traditional White Russians blend vodka, coffee liqueur and cream. Vegan versions seamlessly sub in coconut cream or milk alternatives like almond or oat milk. Chilled coconut milk thickens into an especially indulgent, velvety sip. Consider adding a luxurious touch with a dusting of vegan cocoa powder or a swirl of dairy-free ice cream.
Creamy Vegan Cocktails
Coconut, cashews, almonds and other nuts can be blended into luscious dairy-free creams, capable of making even the most indulgent cocktails cruelty-free. Add soaked cashews to a piña colada. Toast almonds to lend a marzipan nuance to amaretto sours. Shake coconut milk with ice cubes for frothy tropical teas. Swirl in avocado, banana or tofu for extra-smoothie-like cocktails. Dairy-free ice creams also lend decadent body. The options for lavish, creamy vegan libations are boundless.
Easy Vegan Cocktails
Simpler spirited soda combos offer effortless vegan options, too. A rum and coconut water Cuba libre needs just a squeeze of lime. Gin or vodka with tonic only requires a citrus twist. Tequila, soda and lime become a basic but refreshing paloma. Customize easy gin and tonics with cucumber, berries or herbs. Spice up vodka sodas with jalapeño, rosemary or basil. Even a basic Bloody Mary soda ticks boxes for vegan and low-fuss cocktails.
Traditional margaritas simply require tequila, lime juice and orange liqueur like Cointreau. For a touch of sweetness, agave nectar replaces honey-based triple sec. Fruit purées lend guava, mango, strawberry or other flavors. Instead of salting the rim with margarita salt containing crushed bugs, use chili-lime salt or agave syrup. Garnish with wedges of lime, blood orange or fresh berries.
Favourite Vegan Cocktails
Creative vegan drink-crafters have devised amazing renditions of beloved cocktails that rival and possibly surpass the originals in flavor and innovation. Aquafaba magic turns whiskey sours into frothy delights. Coconut improves tiki drinks and banishes miss from pina coladas. Craft cocktails thrive on originality and inclusiveness. Being vegan inherently encapsulates this mindset. The possibilities for tantalizing cruelty-free libations are endless.
Why Go Vegan with Cocktails?
Adopting vegan cocktails aligns with several positive lifestyle choices:
- Health – Plant ingredients provide antioxidants, minerals and phytonutrients.
- Ethics – Avoiding animal exploitation and environmental issues in animal agriculture.
- Sustainability – Choosing organic, biodynamic and fairly traded ingredients.
- Creativity – Pushing boundaries with new flavors and techniques.
- Inclusivity – Catering drinks to broader dietary preferences.
Today’s vibrant cocktail culture thrives on originality and inclusivity. Vegan cocktails check both boxes, welcoming more people to enjoy quality craft cocktails with a clear conscience, better health outcomes and adventurous new flavors. Cheers to progress!