Drinks

Lots of Booze Isn't Vegan (But These 15 Bottles Are)

November  3, 2015

When Guinness announced yesterday that, after 256 years, its stout is going vegan, a common reaction was: Wait, what? How can beer not be vegan?

In fact a number of alcohols use animal-derived products in their production (especially in the aging or filtration processes). There could be albumin from egg whites; casein (derived from milk); carmine, a.k.a. ground beetles; chitin from shellfish; gelatin from animal bones or tissue; or isinglass, a gelatin from fish (that’s what Guinness stout has had).

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Other times, drinks are more obviously not vegan because they have cream (think Bailey's and Kahlua), honey, or processed sugars (which could have bone char).

More: Don't fear, vegan eggnog is here.

If you glazed over that and instead just vowed never to drink again, know that there are many companies that already make vegan beer, wine, and spirits. With help from Barnivore, The Tipsy Vegan author John Schlimm, and some knowledgable vegans in the office, we’ve compiled this list of 15 vegan-friendly options for beer, wine, and spirits that we see around a lot. You can comfortably order these at a bar and know they haven't touched fish bladders or the like. (Not all these brands' products are vegan, though, so you'll want to follow this list instead of just remembering brands.)

Spirits (When in doubt, choose vodka or gin)

  • Absolut Vodka
  • Amaretto (You can still drink coffee like an Italian!)
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Aperol
  • Appleton Rum
  • Beefeater Gin
  • Bulleit Bourbon
  • Cointreau 
  • Don Julio Tequila
  • Grey Goose Vodka
  • Hendrick's Gin
  • Maker's Mark
  • Patron Tequila
  • Pimm's (so you can have your Pimm's Cup)
  • Tanqueray Gin

Beer (Easy rule of thumb: Generally British beers aren't vegan)

  • Abita (except for their honey rye ale because honey isn't vegan)
  • Allagash
  • Amstel
  • Anchor Brewing Company
  • Anderson Valley
  • Asahi
  • Beck's
  • Blue Moon (except their honey ones)
  • Corona
  • Goose Island
  • Heineken
  • Kirin
  • Lagunitas
  • Modelo (phew)
  • P.B.R.

Wine

  • Argyle
  • Bogle
  • Espelt 
  • Frog's Leap
  • Layer Cake 
  • La Grand Noir
  • Macari
  • Moët Champagne
  • Molly Dooker
  • Red Truck Wines 
  • Rex Hill 
  • Stag Hollow
  • Veuve Cliquot Champagne
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards

This is of course not a comprehensive list. John says the best thing to do if you're curious if your favorite drink is vegan—and why it is or isn't—is to download the Barnivore app or use their website. There are also vegan-friendly bars, like Pine Box Rock Shop in Brooklyn, but they're few and far between.

So what's a safe order anywhere? John's pick: "A vodka martini." 

Images by James Ransom

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The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).

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9 Comments

Katie O. December 11, 2018
Drake's Organic Vodka and Rum are the best vegan spirits out there! They use coconut fiber to filter!
 
karen November 23, 2018
Try raw vegan gin O.R.E. 118. A delicious fresh tasting gin distilled at temperatures no more than 118 degrees. I love it in a negroni.
 
karen November 23, 2018
A great raw vegan gin to try is O.R.E. 118 mad
 
chiara911 March 15, 2018
A brand I've come across that's about to hit it big is Drake's. They make Rum and Vodka that is TRULY Vegan. No bone char involved in the process. Also non-GMO and GLUTEN FREE. I love it because it's smooth. 12x distilled.
 
Katie O. December 11, 2018
yes I <3 Drake's!!
 
usuba D. October 13, 2016
The dirty little secret of the distilling business is that most vodkas and gins are produced by starting with "grain neutral spirits" that are not derived from grains, but rather milk by-products. The process was developed in England with the several of these distilleries in Ireland & California (which is the largest milk producer in the US).
 
Emily November 6, 2015
According to Barnivore, the only Chateau Ste. Michelle wine that is vegan is the Rieslings. :(
 
Author Comment
Ali S. November 6, 2015
Ack! Apologies for the confusion; I've updated the above.
 
cv November 3, 2015
A vodka martini is not a safe bet for a vegan. Martinis contain vermouth and the popular Italian brands are not vegan friendly.<br /><br />A gin & tonic or vodka tonic are safer bets for vegans.