Watch out for the spirits!
No, I’m not talking about the spirits roaming the earth this Halloween (but watch out for those, too).
I’m not even talking about the spirits in your glass. Most hard liquor – especially the more expensive stuff – is vegan-friendly.
What you have to watch out for – is what those spirits are mixing with!
Spirits can get into some bad company!
(Please note – this list is intended for when you’re out-and-about – in restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. You can veganize many drinks at home, but it’s unreasonable to expect that of bartenders late on Friday or Saturday evening. A restaurant will usually be more willing to work with you to make sure your drink is vegan than, say, a bar at the Epicentre. So let’s be practical.)
Here are a few things to watch out for – starting with the obvious:
- Milk drinks, such as White Russians, Brown Cows, and Mudslides. Also anything mixed with Bailey’s Irish Cream or similar (yes, Irish Cream really does have cream). Most alcoholic coffee drinks (Starbucks offers soy options but most bars do not). You can still have Kahlua in your coffee, you just have to watch they don’t also add milk, cream, or whipped cream! Eggnog.
- Jello Shots. I don’t need to remind you what’s in gelatin, do I? (Ok, maybe I do. Skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, all boiled down to release the collagen.) There’s a way to make vegan jello shots at home, but let’s face it, the jello shots you get at Bar Charlotte are NOT going to be vegan.
- Bloody Marys. I know, I know – this drink just sounds so healthy, doesn’t it? But most Bloody Mary mixes are NOT vegan, and if the bartender doesn’t make it from a mix he usually adds Worcestershire sauce. (In case you’re puzzled, we’re on the lookout for anchovies here – you know, those tiny little fishies.) And some bartenders/restaurants use Clamato tomato juice (yep, tomato juice with clams). If you really want a Bloody Mary you can ask for a PLAIN tomato juice (not Clamato) with a shot of Tabasco, a pinch of salt, and vodka. If you’re making Bloody Marys at home you could always save a little money by simply adding some vodka to a Spicy Hot V-8.
- Drinks made with Sweet & Sour, which often has milk powder or egg whites to make the drinks slightly foamy. (There are some vegan friendly Sweet & Sour mixes, but you’re not really going to be able to slide behind the bar at a nightclub to check out the ingredients, are you?) What drinks are made with Sweet & Sour? Long Island Iced Tea and anything else with “Tea” in the name. Lemon Drops and anything with “Lemonade” in the name. Anything with “Sour” or “Sweet & Sour” in the name. Mai Tais. Singapore Slings. Skip And Go Nakeds. Any drink with “Collins” in the name … Tom Collins, etc. Some flavored martinis.
- Pina Coladas. They’re supposed to be made with coconut milk but sometimes they have milk added as well. And Pina Colada mixes almost always have dairy.
- Martinis made with vermouth (most vermouth is not vegan). Again, some flavored martinis (may have Sweet & Sour).
- And if sugar is one of your vegan concerns … watch out for drinks where the rim of the glass has been dipped in sugar. Examples would be Daiquiris, Lemon Drops, Mai Tais, Mint Julips, and Mojitos.
So what CAN you drink?
Simple is best:
- Vodka mixed with fruit juice (orange juice, cranberry juice, etc.)
- Gin and Tonic, Vodka Tonics
- Classic Extra-Dry Martinis, made without vermouth, or Dirty or Extra-Dirty Martinis made without vermouth.
- Classic Margaritas (lime not strawberry). Margarita mixes are almost all vegan friendly. While there’s a slim chance a bartender might use Sweet & Sour in a dive bar, in most bars and almost all restaurants that will not be the case.
- Classic Shots – such as, a shot of tequila, a shot of whiskey.