You might not expect eggs or fish to be lurking in your wine, but you could be wrong! Did you know that not all alcoholic drinks are vegan-friendly?
Many beers, wines, hard ciders, and liquors use a variety of animal products in their processing. The main culprits are isinglass (dried fish bladders), gelatin (from boiled cow’s or pig’s hooves and sinews), egg whites, chitin (from lobster and/or crab shells), casein (a protein from milk), bone meal, and bull’s blood. They’re used in a process called fining — when unwanted leftovers, like solid particles (such as grape skins or stems in wine, for example) and degenerated yeast cells, are removed from the brewing process.
These elements settle on their own, but fining agents quicken the process and make them easier to remove. This is done to end up with a better tasting and more presentable final product. In the U.S., alcoholic beverages are not required to list ingredients on labels, including fining agents.
Some companies have started to either skip the fining process (they feel fining removes too much flavor & complexity) or substitute the traditional agents with a natural clay, called bentonite, or diatomaceous earth, which is sourced from fossilized algae.
Bull blood is currently illegal for use in France and the USA, however, wines from other European or South American vineyards may still contain it.
Some specialty beers, liquors, and meads also contain honey or milk/cream and even eggs (think eggnog!). Many colored liquors contain carmine, which is ground beetles.
Want to make sure your Big Day wines, beers, and cocktails offer guests a vegan-friendly drinking experience?
Signature drinks can add personality to your cocktail hour or reception. Toast the fall with one of these original cocktails, developed for Vegan Wedding HQ by Rissa Miller, producer of Baltimore Vegan Drinks, and vegan bartender, Brooke Edwards, also from Maryland.
This drink has delicate, mild flavors and would be a perfect fit for a ballroom wedding or any event with an elegant feeling.
Combine vodka, ginger liqueur, white balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice; add to a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Shake a few times and pour into serving glass. Top with club soda and stir gently to combine. Drop-in one piece of candied ginger.
This spicy cocktail has a dry taste and a smooth finish. Serve it cool for a perfect autumn evening. It would be a perfect match for any outdoor or farm wedding.
Combine ingredients by stirring, and pour into a serving glass. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, if desired.
This drink can also be made as a punch and mixed up in large batches.
Sweet and sassy with some sparkle – just right for a reception with lots of dancing!
Gently stir ingredients together and serve over ice. Rim the serving glass with the orange peel. Add ice to serving glass. In another mixing glass, combine gin, ginger kombucha, cranberry juice blend, and bitters, stir gently and serve poured over ice. Garnish with remaining orange peel.
Notes: The flavor of this cocktail will vary based on the kombucha you use. While national kombucha brewers like Synergy and Reed’s both have ginger-flavored options, it’s fun to try a local brewer. In the Baltimore/DC corridor, we have two great companies making kombucha: Hex Ferments and Capital Kombucha.
Some other small-batch kombucha breweries we know of:
Look around at farmer’s markets or search online to find one near you.
Feeling crafty? Try making your own kombucha or bitters for this recipe! Please feel free to inspire us and share your favorite vegan wedding cocktail recipe below.