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What common cocktails are vegan?

I've always been a cocktail person. 

Even when I was sneakily drinking underage I was still more likely to try and concoct a cocktail out of my parents drink cabinet rather than just nicking a bottle of cheap vodka. My parents are not massive drinkers and alas there was never that much alcohol in the house. It's only as I've gotten older that I've convinced my mum that more expensive alcohol is worth paying for (my mum drank Gordon's, I don't even drink gin and even I know no respectable gin enthusiastic recommends Gordons but, erm, I apologise if anyone reading this does drink Gordon's). The point of that anecdote was just to let you know that I like cocktails, so much that I even drank them when I a poor student who should have probably been drinking the promos. And that my parents house isn't a good place to go for piss up. 

Fast forward to legal drinking age (plus seven years) and I found myself working in bars. Now I'm going to tell you something that will make a lot of bartenders feel sort of confused: I liked making cocktails. They're daunting as daunting gets the first time you're tasked with making a drunk person a French Martini in a busy bar. But once you nail it? So good. Well I thought so (and people who order complicated drinks are more likely to tip well, so that's always a plus). 

But now I also know what is in all major cocktails. Which helps when you've got dietary requirements because not all alcohol is vegan or vegetarian (some of it is filtered using fish bladder...scrumptious). So I'm accumulating my knowledge from previous bar work and creating a handy to guide to what common cocktails are vegan-friendly!

N.B. Different bars will make their cocktails slightly, well, differently. This is only a guide to what cocktails are typically vegan. 

Woo Woo/ Sex and The Beach
The only thing that differs a SOTB from a Woo Woo is a splash of orange juice. All the other ingredients are vodka, Peach Snapps, cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime. All good to go vegan wise.

Bahama Mama
There's a bit of debate as how to make these. At Bunker we made them with Morgan's Spiced Rum, Malibu, orange juice, pineapple juice and Agostura Bitters. Some places stick to white rum, some only use orange juice and some use grenadine. Good news though? I've not mentioned one non-vegan ingredient in this entire paragraph.

As a former barmaid I can tell you that these are one of the hardest to make, but as a cocktail-drinker I know they're one of the nicest to sip on (if it has been made correctly, as I said they're difficult to get right). Typically prepared with Bacardi, crushed ice, mint leaves, lime juice, sugar and soda water, the only thing you have to worry about is if they use a non-vegan sugar.

Long Island Iced Tea
A medley of several types of alcohol, everything that goes into this cocktail is vegan (luckily, as a lot is mixed into it). Cola, tequila, gin, vodka, triple sec, sugar, bacardi and lime.

Espresso martini
While this frothy cocktail might look like it has some kind of dairy mixed in, it's actually free of daitu (and any animal-product)! Usually made with a coffee liqueur, a shot of coffee, vodka and topped with coffee beans (though some places add a dusting of chocolate powder so ask to keep it off).

I'm a snob when it comes to margaritas; and only order them when I'm in a classy upmarket bar. You see, they're meant to be blended with ice but many cheaper bars skip this step. And then there's the taste of cheap tequila. I can drink cheap rum and I can drink cheap vodka but NEVER pass me cheap tequila - it could be the last thing you do. Saying that, margaritas will likely be vegan; even if you're drinking a cheap (and not properly made) one.

Tequila Sunrise
It's vegan but you won't catch me drinking one unless I'm in an upmarket bar because of the aforementioned point: how can people drink cheap tequila?

Piña colada
Just like the espresso martini, a piña colada looks like it would have dairy in it and just like the margarita it needs to be blended for it to taste just right. The ingredients are pineapple juice, white rum, and coconut cream - good to go!

Saving the best until last; this is probably my favourite cocktail. A mix of cranberry juice, lime juice, Cointreau and vodka - make yourself the fifth member of Carrie's girl gang. 

Try and avoid

White Russians
Probably obvious since they contain milk (in Glasgow you can get soya versions in 13th Note and Broadcast) but throwing it out there anyway. I haven't yet come across a coffee liqueur that isn't vegan-friendly, though some places offer White Russians with fancy adaptions so be careful if you're ordering a "Mint Choc Chip White Russian". 

Maverick Martini/Pornstar Martini
This is the one that comes with a little shot of prosecco (that you sip slowly as you drink the main cocktail, not shot it like I originally thought you did). Prosecco and wine is regularly not vegan because it's is filtered using animals, however the 'main' cocktail contains honey-infused Chambord. Unless you know they're using a different raspberry liqueur then this two-part cocktail is off the menu. 

Chambord Royale
A tall glass of prosecco with some Chambord layered at the bottom. Off limits to vegans for the same reason as above. 

French Martini
Similar to the Maverick Martini, unless you know brand other than Chambord that is being used as the raspberry liqueur then it's (very) unfortunately out. The other ingredients of vodka and pineapple juice are usually okay.

A mimosa is a cocktail built on Champagne, so just like it's wine-based cocktail friends above it is out of the vegan pub-crawl for a very similar reason.

Old Fashioned
The base ingredient of this manly cocktail is whiskey - an alcohol that will sometimes be filtered with animal ingredients. When drinking at home you can ensure you use a vegan whiskey, but out at a bar you can just never know what whiskey they chose when designing the menu.

Another whiskey-based cocktail, which makes it too risky a choice when trying to drink vegan. Manhattan's also contain red vermouth - another type of alcohol that can or can't be vegan.

Just like the Manhattan above, this cocktail contains vermouth. Sometimes vermouth is vegan, sometimes it's not. It's a risky one.

Bloody Mary
I've never had a Bloody Mary in my life; the whole concept just sounds...unpleasant. Even before I went vegetarian I never had any desire to try one and even if I did develop that said desire - I wouldn't be able to act on it (unless I made them at home). Bloody Mary's contain Worcestershire Sauce and it's a little known fact that this sauce isn't even vegetarian (let alone vegan). But psssst, there's a vegan Bloody Mary in the 13th Note if you are so inclined. 

P.S. I'm planning to write a lot of blog post based around my knowledge of bar work (and alcohol). So far I have a 'tips for your first bar job' and 'best places to get a cocktail in Glasgow' posts in the works. If there's anything you want me to cover, give me a shout. 
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