April Chandler takes ten of her favourite vegan cocktail creations from her recipe book Wonder Cocktails to demonstrate that it's not hard to make inventive, creamy, taste-filled vegan drinks from scratch.
A cocktail is a cunningly contrived mixture of tastes and sensations. The cocktail is, in its unlikely way, an art form. Because of that very difficultly in finding a combination of tastes and sensations that appeals, the range of cocktails known to the connoisseur is by no means as vast as the interested amateur might suppose. I’ve included 10 wonder cocktails from my book, focusing on quality plant-based and gluten free ingredients, the finest alcohol from around the world, freshly made mixers and flavourings with essential oils for added health benefits. I've also provided a list of how to make the various mixers, creams, oils, sauces and flavourings at the bottom of the recipes.
I love this after dinner cocktail. For me, it’s like having a dessert in a glass with all that yummy whipped cream and chocolate ice cream! Truly delicious.
30ml coffee liqueur
60ml dairy free chocolate ice cream (recipe in mixers, at the bottom of the article)
30ml double coconut or almond cream (recipe in creams)
15ml whipped coconut or almond cream, to garnish
15ml dairy free flaked chocolate, to garnish
Combine the coffee liqueur, brandy, ice cream and double cream in a tall glass. Stir until smooth. Top with the dairy free whipped cream. Grate and sprinkle the vegan chocolate on top.
2) Hangman’s Blood
A drink first described by Richard Hughes in his 1929 novel, A High Wind in Jamaica. According to Hughes, Hangman’s blood is as innocent as it looks, refreshing as it tastes, has the property of increasing rather than allaying thirst, and so once it has made a breach, soon demolishes the whole fort.
30ml chilled stout
Combine the gin, rum, whisky, brandy and port in a pint glass.
Add the champagne and top up with the stout.
3) Momo Special
This cocktail with a handful of fresh mint makes it a perfect, if somewhat a labour-intensive drink for hot weather.
12.5ml lemon juice (recipe in mixers)
12.5ml simple syrup (recipe in syrups)
handful fresh mint
soda, to top
1 drop oregano essential oil (optional: oregano oil has been used for centuries in traditional health practices for its cleansing properties. Only one drop needed)
Enrich the minty flavour by macerating the mint in the vodka some hours before making. Pick over the mint to take the leaves off the stems. Put in a shaker with plenty of ice and add all remaining ingredients except the soda. Shake well, then pour into a tall glass and top with soda. Add a drop of oregano essential oil for added health benefits.
4) Bloody Mary
One of the indisputably great cocktails, usually attributed to a bartender at Harry’s Bar in Paris in the 1920s. I like to use my own homemade V8 juice and have included the recipe below under mixers.
30ml V8 (recipe in mixers)
7.5ml lemon juice (recipe in mixers)
30ml vegan Worcestershire sauce (recipe in sauces)
2ml chilli sauce (recipe in sauces)
2ml tabasco sauce (recipe in sauces)
5ml celery salt
7.5ml ground black pepper
Put all ingredients except the vodka in a large jug. Mix well, taste for seasonings, and correct as needed. For each drink, put 30ml vodka in a tall glass with plenty of ice. Top with V8 juice mixture, stir well, and drink.
5) Pimm’s Royal
This variant on the summertime favourite is a halfway between two classics, the standard Pimm’s and a champagne cocktail, it’s clean tasting and exceptionally refreshing. I suggest using champagne, but a superior French sparkling wine will suffice.
30ml Pimm’s No.1
1 lemon zest
4 cucumber peels
handful mint leaves
champagne or sparkling wine, to top
strawberry, to garnish
Pour the Pimm’s and Cointreau over ice in a tall highball glass. Fill with wine, and add the lemon, cucumber and mint. Cut halfway into the strawberry, and push it onto the rim of the glass.
6) August Moon
There are many versions of August Moon, but this creation gives it a seasonal twist that makes the cocktail even more delicious. The use of fresh ingredients makes the flavours intense, refreshing and fruity.
5ml orgeat syrup (recipe in syrups)
5ml lemon juice (recipe in mixers)
Shake vigorously with ice cubes. Strain into a cocktail glass.
7) Farmers Daughter
This recipe is a fun, delicious cocktail, but it’s still sophisticated enough to serve to discerning adults and is a great dessert or snack drink for whenever you’ve got a sweet tooth.
You can also add dairy free vanilla ice cream for an even richer taste. This recipe is traditionally made with egg, but I either use Irish moss, flaxseed or leave it out altogether.
30ml cream sherry
15ml golden caster sugar
2.5ml ground cinnamon, to garnish
1 drop cassia essential oil (optional: cassia has been used for thousands of years to help maintain physical health and promote emotional wellbeing. Only one drop needed)
Combine all ingredients and mix well until blended. Serve in a whisky sour glass. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Add a drop of cassia essential oil for added health benefits.
8) French 75
This drink is a tapestry of gin and bubbles, gracefully woven together to turn you into a carousing debauchee. The French 75 is one to turn to in times of celebration; to raise your glass and ring in the new year, the new baby, the new job, the new…
45ml dry gin
10ml lemon juice (recipe in mixers)
5ml golden caster sugar
orange slice, to garnish
1 drop lemon essential oil (optional: lemon is a powerful cleansing agent. Only one drop of the essential oil needed)
Shake the gin, sugar and lemon juice. Pour into a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Carefully add the champagne. Garnish with a slice of orange. Add a drop of lemon essential oil for added health benefits.
This cocktail is light and elegant with invigorating flavour and aroma, made even more yummy by using Creme de Violette, which is vegan instead of the traditional Advocaat as it contains egg yolk.
45ml Creme de Violette
45ml cherry brandy
Shake vigorously with ice cubes. Strain into a wine glass filled with crushed ice.
10) Jack O’hara
This cocktail normally uses yukon jack liqueur, but as it’s not vegan, you can substitute it with a Canadian whisky. I personally like it with elderflower liqueur. I think creating elderflower into a liqueur was a brilliant idea! The taste makes an excellent cocktail that has rightfully gained popularity over the last few years. It’s great as is, but you can add 30ml vodka if you like stronger cocktails.
30ml elderflower liqueur
45ml cranberry juice (recipe in mixers)
10ml lime juice (recipe in mixers)
1 drop myrrh essential oil (optional: Myhrr has powerful cleansing properties, especially for the mouth and throat. Only one drop needed)
Shake vigorously with ice cubes. Strain into a cocktail glass. Add a drop of myrrh essential oil for added health benefits.
Mixers are used to dilute a drink, particularly one containing spirits, and make it into a long drink. The idea comes from the British Empire, when colonial administrators diluted their neat whisky, gin, or brandy to make it bearable in the tropical heat.
As with everything else in your bar, choose only mixers of the finest quality. Buy carbonated mixers in small bottles to be sure of freshness. The contents of large bottles often go flat before they are used, however, so I suggest making all mixers at home from scratch using the recipes below to keep the cocktails healthy as well as yummy.
6 medium carrots
1 small beet
3 large tomatoes
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 head cabbage
1 habanero pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 garlic clove
3 kale leaves
pinch chilli pepper
pinch rock salt
Wash all vegetables and add to juicer. Juice for 10 seconds. Add chilli pepper and salt to taste. Mix with cocktail to be consumed immediately. Juice can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight sealed bottle, however, as the juice starts to oxidise after 15 minutes, vitamins will be lost.
6 limes, peeled, halved
Press limes through a juice extractor. Stir and mix with cocktail to be consumed immediately. Juice can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight sealed bottle, however, as the juice starts to oxidise after 15 minutes, vitamins will be lost.
1lb fresh cranberries
4 cups water
60ml aloe vera gel
Wash and drain fresh red-ripe cranberries. Combine cranberries and water in a large pan.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until berries burst. Strain juice through a fine strainer lined with cheese cloth. Reheat juice until it is almost, but not boiling. Pour into jars. Allow to cool before refrigerating. Add the aloe vera gel.
6 lemons, peeled, halved
Press lemons through a juice extractor. Stir and mix with cocktail to be consumed immediately. Juice can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight sealed bottle, however, as the juice starts to oxidise after 15 minutes, vitamins will be lost.
Dairy free chocolate ice cream
800ml coconut milk
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup almond milk
16 dates, pitted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Place a large mixing bowl in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes. In the meantime, add moist, sticky, pitted dates to a food processor and process until small bits remain. Then add hot water a little at a time until it forms a thick paste. Set aside.
Place coconut milk in chilled mixing bowl. Using a mixer, whip until creamy and smooth. Then add cacao powder, vanilla extract, almond milk, cinnamon and half of the date paste. Whip until fully incorporated. Add more of the date paste or cacao powder, as required.
Transfer to a parchment lined freezer safe container and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
You can take this out in a couple of hours for a chilled mousse like ice cream. Freeze overnight for a firmer ice cream. Leave on the counter for at least 10 minutes prior to scooping, and use a scoop warmed under hot water for a proper scoop. The ice cream will keep in the freezer for up to one week, but best served fresh.
Flavourings and sauces
A Bloody Mary made without Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco is unthinkable. Your bar should be stocked with each, however, as most brands are not vegan, check before buying or make your own using the recipes below. When using any flavourings, freshness is all in a cocktail.
Hot sauce is typically made from various types of hot chilli peppers, such as habanero, tabasco, cayenne and jalapeno. These peppers, like most plant based foods, contain qualities that can benefit your health. An active ingredient in chilli peppers that makes them spicy and has health benefits is called capsaicin.
3 dozen tabasco peppers or 3 dozen other long hot red peppers
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp turbinado sugar
1⁄2 tsp rock salt
1 tsp horseradish
1 cup hot white vinegar
Add 1 cup water to the peppers and garlic. Cook until tender, then press through a fine sieve. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer until blended. Pour into hot jars; seal at once. Use a water bath for 10 to 15 minutes. The sauce may be used as is or thinned per use with either white vinegar or salad oil.
To make the horseradish:
horseradish root, approx. 10 inch long
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp white vinegar
pinch rock salt
If you have access to a garden horseradish plant, use a sturdy shovel to dig up a 10 inch long tuber of horseradish. You can't pull it up. The plant itself, once established, propagates with tubers, and is very hardy.
Remove the leaves from the root and rinse the dirt off the root. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the surface skin off of the tuber. Chop into pieces.
Put into a food processor. Add a couple tablespoons of water. Process until well ground. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar and a pinch of rock salt to the mixture. Pulse to combine.
Note that the vinegar will stabilise the level of hotness of the ground horseradish, so do not wait too long to add it to the mixture.
Using a rubber spatula, carefully transfer the grated horseradish to a jar. It will keep for 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
Regular Worcestershire sauce is not vegan, so shop carefully, or make your own using this recipe.
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp turbinado sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp pepper
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for 1 minute. Cool. Store in the refrigerator.
12 habanero peppers
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
1/2 tbsp rock salt
1/4 tbsp white pepper
8 tbsp white vinegar
Cut habanero peppers in half and remove seeds. Drop in boiling water for 30 seconds to blanche. Remove peppers and put onion, carrots and garlic cloves into boiling water and cook until tender. Squeeze juice from lime and combine all ingredients and put in blender. First chop, then blend at high speed.
Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Spoon out the chilli sauce as needed.
Commercial syrups are mostly made up of flavoured high fructose corn syrup, with up to 9.3 grams of sugar in just one tablespoon. Bottled syrups have drifted very far away from original syrup
formulas and usually have a lot of artificial ingredients, including food dyes and preservatives. Homemade syrups are simple and easy to make, sweet, flavourful and syrupy, yet they are made without the white sugar, corn syrups and artificial ingredients.
2 1/4 cups almonds
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
3 1/2 cups distilled water
1/4 tsp orange blossom water
Place sliced raw almonds in a medium sized mixing bowl. Cover with the water and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain, discarding the water.
In a food processor or blender, lightly pulse the almonds until they are coarsely ground.
Return the ground almonds to the bowl, cover with 3 1/2 cups of distilled water and soak for 4 to 5 hours, stirring the mixture well every hour or so. Strain the liquid into a 1 litre glass jar through a cheesecloth lined strainer, pressing to extract as much as possible. Discard the almonds.
Add the turbinado sugar to the liquid, close the lid tightly and shake the jar vigorously, repeating several times over 15 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the vodka and orange blossom water and stir thoroughly. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 to 3 cups of syrup.
The classic simple syrup ratio is 1 part water to 1 part sugar.
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
You can also flavour your syrup in many ways. If something goes well with sweets, it will flavour simple syrup nicely. Consider exploring using the following: cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, cardamom pods, lemon/lime/orange/grapefruit zest, lavender, basil, ginger, vanilla bean, peppercorns, chilli peppers, fresh or dried, any sort of fruit you like. My personal favourites are cardamom, lemon and ginger.
To make the simple syrup, combine your desired amounts of sugar and water together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil.
It will be grainy at first, and then cloudy. When it is ready, the syrup will be totally clear.
Turn the heat down to low, add in your chosen flavourings and simmer for at least half an hour. Stir occasionally, but you don't need to babysit it too much.
Remove from heat. Once your simple syrup is at room temperature, you will need to strain it. If you put in any sort of citrus zest or ginger, they can be left on a sheet of parchment paper to dry; they're delicious.
Strain into a large measuring cup and pour it into a jar. To make it easier, use a big funnel if you have one.
I keep my syrups in glass mason jars because glass will not absorb the flavours like plastic will so you can use the jars again. Simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to six months.
Since we all know dairy isn’t the most healthy food choice out there today, it’s good to know there are dairy alternatives like soy, hemp, oat, rice and almond milks instead. Homemade vegan creams and whipped creams using plant based milks are so easy to make and taste yummy.
Double coconut or almond cream
Coconut cream is made from squeezing coconut flesh in hot water, leaving it to cool, then straining it, a process that yields both coconut milk and coconut cream. The two liquids will separate when left to stand: the thick white cream will rise to the surface of the liquid leaving the clear watery milk below. Coconut cream is also dried and sold in hard blocks. It can be diluted with hot water before using or added straight to the simmering liquid in the pan.
1 coconut, shell removed and flesh grated, coconut water reserved
Reserved coconut water, plus enough cream or milk to measure 1 quart
In a heavy saucepan, cover the grated coconut with the coconut water and cream. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring often. Cover with a lid and let cool to room temperature.
Place a sieve or strainer over a large bowl. Line it with a double layer of cheesecloth. Pour the soaked coconut with its liquid into the lined strainer. Lift the cheesecloth, pull the edges together, and squeeze out the coconut cream.
Whipped coconut or almond cream
Cream prepared from almonds is a source of unsaturated fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and, therefore, a healthful alternative to cream made using cows’ milk.
1/2 cup dairy free butter
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup Irish moss (optional)
1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
3 tbsp dark rum
1 tsp pure almond extract
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add Irish moss, ground almonds, rum, almond extract, and beat until smooth. Will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
You can buy April Chandler's Wonder Cocktails, which features 350 amazing vegan cocktails recipes, directly from us to support our work and promote veganism. Vegan Society supporters can also receive 10% off April Chandler's recommended cocktail kits by Drink Stuff by using code 'wonder'. This code applies to any of their cocktail sets.
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.