Don't... think the absence of meat means it's vegan
The vegan diet eschews products that are derived from animals too, such as egg whites, milk and honey. To be truly vegan, you’ll need to find other options for these cocktail staples.
Gelatine is off the list
Gelatine may seem like a natural and 100% vegetable ingredient. However, it is made from animal protein, thus off the menu for the vegan public.
A suitable substitute is agar-agar, an extract of red seaweed widely used in cooking. This algae has thickening and stabilising properties, which in addition to light foams can also create more solid consistencies, gels, spheres and other formats used in the day to day of molecular mixology.
The chickpea or the egg?
Hold that sour – in addition to not being suitable for vegan drinks, using egg whites in cocktails can increase the risk of food contamination or diseases such as salmonella.
Enter aquafaba, a liquid derived from cooking chickpeas that makes an excellent alternative. Simple to make, it can last for a long time in the fridge and sustains dense foams without the characteristic egg aroma.
Vegetable fat washes
Ok, so here’s the skinny on using a fat wash. Most of you would have tried, or at least tasted, this popular technique that uses fats to extract flavours and textures from other cocktail ingredients.
The good news for vegans is that in addition to using the traditional fats from butter, bacon and other meats, there are many vegetable alternatives, such as olive oil, cocoa butters and also coconut oil.
Sweet alternatives to honey
Honey has unique textures, flavours and characteristics that make it nearly impossible to replace it when adapting routine recipes to the vegan menu.
Thanks to the creativity and tests of bartenders from all over the world, it's now possible to create drinks with alternatives such as coconut honey, cane molasses, maple syrup, and agave syrup. These plant-based ingredients can also be the stars of new signature combinations for your bar.
The magic of mayonnaise
Let’s talk emulsifiers. In food preparation these are used to mix two ingredients that would not naturally combine – using an egg to combine the oil and water in a mayonnaise, for instance – and offer creaminess and uniformity on the palate.
Emulsifiers can be natural such as egg white, or synthetic in origin, which is perfect for a vegan cocktail.
Check the directory of vegan distillates
Finally, you may never have paused to think if your bar's bottles of vodka, gin, cognac, and other spirits have any animal-derived ingredients. We’re not saying these popular spirits are secretly made using meat, but the industrial process may contain non-vegan elements.
To help bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts better understand what goes on behind the scenes, the website Barnivore (a play on the English terms 'bar' and 'herbivore') was created.
The directory of vegan and non-vegan distilled beverages has information about any animal products used in the composition or manufacturing processes, as well as the seals 'vegan friendly' and 'not vegan friendly' for quick identification.