When Guinness announced that, after 256 years, its stout is going vegan, a common reaction was: Wait, what? How can beer not be vegan?
But 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, aka ground beetles; chitin from shellfish; gelatin from animal bones or tissue; or isinglass, a gelatin from fish (that’s what Guinness stout has had).
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).
Watch: How to Make Easy Pre-Dinner Cocktails
With help from Barnivore (a database of vegan alcoholic beverages), The Tipsy Vegan author John Schlimm, and some knowledgable vegans in the office, we’ve compiled this list of 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 the products from these brands are vegan, though, so you'll want to follow this list instead of just remembering brands.)
Pro tip: When in doubt, vodka or gin is your best bet.
- Absolut Vodka: This Swedish vodka brand has confirmed on their site that all the products they make are vegan.
- Amaretto: Yep, you can be vegan and still drink coffee like an Italian!
- Angostura Bitters: This bar cart must-have made from herbs and spices does not contain any animal by-products or animal-derived products, Barnivore confirms.
- Aperol: You don't have to say goodbye to your summer spritzes—Aperol is vegan-approved.
- Appleton Estate Rum: Crafted in Jamaica, Appleton Estate Rum has a warm honey color and rich, lightly fruity flavors that make it perfect for a classic rum punch or riff on an Old Fashioned.
- Aviation Gin: "Aviation American Gin contains no animal products (egg, soy, dairy, honey, etc.) and no animal products are used in the processing of the gin," the company confirmed to Barnivore in an email.
- Beefeater Gin: The three gin offerings from this British classic—Beefeater 24 Gin, Beefeater Pink, and Beefeater Dry—are all vegan, according to a 2019 company email, writes Barnivore.
- Cointreau: This orange liqueur (most commonly found in margaritas) doesn't get its sweetness from animal-derived products, according to Barnivore.
- Don Julio Tequila: This premium tequila brand doesn't use any animal products, making all their tequilas vegan.
- Grey Goose Vodka: Hooray, another top-shelf vodka brand that also happens to be vegan.
- Hendrick's Gin: Keeping in line with our pro tip, Hendrick's gin is also a go.
- Maker's Mark: This small-batch bourbon whiskey made in Kentucky is largely considered vegan-friendly, but the company did note that certain vegans using strict standards may want to avoid it.
- Patrón Tequila: According to company emails over the years, all Patrón Tequila products are vegan.
- Pimm's: A summer favorite, the best way to enjoy this liqueur is in a refreshing Pimm's Cup, of course.
- Tanqueray Gin: You won't have to worry about your gin cocktails being vegan-friendly when using Tanqueray.
An easy rule of thumb: Generally, British beers aren't vegan.
- Abita: Not all of Abita's beers are vegan-friendly (like their limited-release Honey Rye Ale, because honey isn't vegan), but their Amber and Light beers are good to go.
- Allagash: Allagash does use honey and lactose in a few of their beers, but options like their Saison are ok for vegans. If you're not sure, just check the label for the ingredients.
- Amstel: Amstel Radler made in the Netherlands is vegan, according to the company, but you'll want to avoid their other beers, and those made in the UK.
- Anchor Brewing Company: You won't have to pick and choose from Anchor Brewing's lineup—all of their beers are vegan.
- Anderson Valley: This California-based brewing company's beer are all considered vegan, and are even PETA-approved.
- Asahi: Asahi Breweries, based in Japan, makes more than just vegan-friendly beer, and it's important to note that some products (like their Woodstock Bourbon) may contain animal products.
- Beck's: This German beer company falls under the parent company that also owns big brands like Stella Artois, and its products are all vegan (except for Stella's Apple Cidre and cask ales).
- Blue Moon: Vegans can enjoy Blue Moon beers without worry, but will want to avoid their honey products.
- Corona: Just because you're vegan doesn't mean you have to quit your beachfront (or poolside) Corona's during the summer.
- Goose Island: This Chicago-based beer company is producing brews that are all considered suitable for vegans.
- Heineken: A classic Heineken is considered vegan-friendly (regardless of where it's brewed), but you'll want to keep an eye out on other varieties like their Newcastle Brown Ale.
- Kirin: This Japanese beer brand is also suitable for vegan, for both their Ichiban and Light brews.
- Lagunitas: All of Lagunitas' beers are vegan, per a very excited company email to Barnivore.
- Modelo: Every beer in Modelo's lineup is vegan, including their Refrescas and Cheladas.
- P.B.R. This hipster favorite—no surprise here—is also vegan-approved.
- Argyle: Not every wine in Argyle's portfolio is vegan, but their Blanc de Blancs and Pinot Noirs are a safe bet.
- Bogle: A fair amount of Bogle's wines are vegan, but you'll want to double check this list before making a purchase.
- Frog's Leap: There are some wines from Frog's Leap on Barnivore's list, but it may be helpful to get in touch with the winery for more information, as it seems like they've updated their production processes over the last few years.
- Josh Cellars: Per Barnivore, all of Josh Cellars' wines on this list are considered vegan-friendly (though you may want to check the label or get in touch with the winery to find out which facility it was produced in).
- Layer Cake: You shouldn't need to worry about selecting a specific bottle because, per the company, all of Layer Cake's wines are vegan.
- Le Grand Noir: According to Barnivore, all of Le Grand Noir's wines are free of animal products.
- Macari: Macari's long list of wines should all be vegan-friendly, according to their company statement (if you're thinking of buying a bottle though, you may want to check with the winery that the info is up to date).
- Moët Champagne: You can still feel good about popping open a bottle of bubbly when you buy Moët & Chandon.
- Molly Dooker: The red wines from this Australian winery are suitable for vegans, but take note that the white wines use skim milk as a fining agent.
- Red Truck Wines: In an email, the winery wrote, "Our wines are vegan-friendly! We do not use any eggs whites, milk, protein, etc. as fining agents in our wines."
- Rex Hill: Most of Rex Hill's offering are vegan, while their Wilamette Valley wines are only vegetarian.
- Stag Hollow: All of Stag Hollow's wines should be A-ok for vegans, per Barnivore.
- Veuve Cliquot Champagne: You probably recognize Veuve Cliquot for its iconic yellow label, but now you'll also recognize it for being vegan-friendly.
- Willamette Valley Vineyards: Not to be confused with Rex Hill, Willamette Valley Vineyards wines are all vegan—save for their Reisling.
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. Alternatively, you can reach out to the producer directly to get an official answer. 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 just about anywhere? John's pick: "A vodka martini."
Do you have a favorite vegan beer, wine, or spirit? Tell us in the comments below!
This article has been updated by Food52 editors in 2019.
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