Keeping cocktails completely vegan isn’t as easy as leaving out egg whites, creamy liqueurs, and bacon swizzle sticks. Lots of ingredients have surprising animal products hidden in them. Worchester sauce is made with anchovies. Wines are often processed with egg whites, while sake is often processed with gelatin. Beer is traditionally clarified with isinglass, otherwise known as fish bladder. And red beverages are often colored with cochineal, an insect extract. Bartenders are getting better at accommodating vegan drinkers by creating libations that carefully consider every element of every component. So, if you’re trying to stay complete animal-free this #ThirstyThursday, try one of these 100% vegan cocktails.
Honey Salt, Las Vegas, Nevada
It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re staying healthy when you drink the Green Tox. That’s because it’s made with a Green Goddess juice rich with kale, celery, ginger, cucumbers, Granny Smith apples, and lemon. Of course, it also features vodka, but all the other components basically counterbalance it. Basically. Make a reservation at Honey Salt.
Rouge Tomate Chelsea, New York, New York
You’ll flip-o for the Eucalypto. Cimarrón Tequila is combined with pistachio syrup, lime juice, Angostura bitters, vegan sugar, and eucalyptus tincture made with quinoa vodka. But isn’t sugar always vegan, you may be wondering. Actually, it’s usually processed with bone char, so, no, it’s not. Make a reservation at Rouge Tomate Chelsea.
Del Frisco’s Grille, New York, New York
Gimme this gimlet! Blueberry and cucumber are the predominant flavors, while Hendrick’s gin gives it a strong backbone. It arrives garnished with a cucumber wheel. Make a reservation at Del Frisco’s Grille.
Kali, Los Angeles, California
New Pad Thai – definitely different than the old Pad Thai. This drinkable version is made with St. George green chili vodka, eau de vie, and lime juice, plus sprouts and a carrot strip. Coconut ice keeps it cool. Make a reservation at Kali.
Poggio, Sausalito, California
Sometimes simplicity is the most satisfying option. Take this classic spritz made with Aperol (which gets its ruddy hue from ingredients such as orange and rhubarb, not any insect derivatives) and prosecco. It puts the mmm in minimalism! Make a reservation at Poggio.
Lolo’s Surf Cantina, Miami Beach, Florida
Say hola to the Sayulita Sunset. A mix of mezcal, blood orange, lime, agave, and bitters, it has a flavor profile that deftly balances sweet and tangy. It’s muy refrescante (very refreshing)! Make a reservation at Lolo’s Surf Cantina.
The Library at the Public, New York, New York
The American Beauty has Old World roots. Combier rose liqueur from France’s Loire Valley is paired with two Italian stunners: Cocchi Rosa and Strega. There is one stateside component: High Wire Hat Trick gin from Charleston, South Carolina. Make a reservation at the Library at the Public.
Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, D.C.
We’re sure Prince would approve of this drink. The Strawberry Beret is forged from Four Roses bourbon, rosemary-infused bourbon, strawberry syrup, and ginger bitters. If that’s not your vibe, almost of lead bartender Cole Burger’s other cocktails are vegan as well. Make a reservation at Blue Duck Tavern.
360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario
Strawberry Fields forever! The eminently drinkable cocktail is made with strawberry-rhubarb cordial, lime juice, and dry gin. It’s nothing to get hung(over) about. Make a reservation at 360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower.
International Smoke, San Francisco, California
The Voice of Tansen is powered by Suntory Whisky Toki and Averna Amaro. Tamarind, pineapple, and lemon add a sunny sensibility. It’s finished with a vee of grilled pineapple. Make a reservation at International Smoke.
Baba, Arlington, Virginia
The Welcome to Belgrade is dominated by apple with citrus and spice notes floating below the surface. Cardamom syrup and springy rhubarb bitters give it a surprising complexity. The final flourish is a shot of apple rakia dumped into its depths. Make a reservation at Baba.
Blue Harbour, Tampa, Florida
This elderflower paloma is exactly what you need on a hot Tampa day. It’s made with St. Germain liqueur, tequila, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, Pellegrino, and mint. We won’t judge if you enjoy more than one. Make a reservation at Blue Harbor.
Equinox, Washington, D.C.
The Midnight Filibuster Tonic was designed as a salve for all-nighters on Capitol Hill. It features rye whiskey, coffee, molasses, and chocolate bitters. Bipartisanship not included. Make a reservation at Equinox.
Where have you been sipping vegan cocktails? Let us know where here in the comments or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Deep Sleep Studio (Lolo’s Surf Cantina); Shannon Sturgis (The Library at The Public).