With the rising numbers of vegans worldwide, it’s only natural for restaurants to cater to the dietary requirements of this large group of customers. Although vegan meals can seem like an easy addition to your restaurant menu, vegan drinks can pose a challenge.
Depending on the type of restaurant, the restaurant manager and/or owner has to think about sourcing a range of quality beverages that can be enjoyed by vegan customers. These customers are not and should not be limited to drinking only water, coffee (black or with plant-based milk), and tea.
There is a wide range of great cocktails they can enjoy, with or without plant-based milks as an addition. So if you are struggling in that department or looking for some more ideas for your seasonal menu or maybe the permanent one, just keep reading!
How to Create a Vegan Drinks Menu for a Restaurant
Similar to including CBD drinks and signature cocktails to a menu, curating vegan drinks requires research, planning, finding vendors, organizing inventory you currently have, and more. To make it a bit easier for the bartenders, and you, as a business owner, we’ve narrowed down the most important steps:
Key Takeaway: Creating a good vegan drinks menu for a restaurant is important and can earn you many new customers. There are various delicious drinks to offer that entice non-vegan customers too.
Understand Vegan Drinks
Familiarize yourself with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, suitable for vegan customers. This includes finding vegan wines, beers, spirits, cocktails, mocktails, juices, and other non-alcoholic options. Research the ingredients used in each drink to ensure they are free from animal-derived products or byproducts. You can create many delicious vegan non-alcoholic drinks!
Analyze Customer Preferences
Look into your target customer base and their preferences. Consider whether there’s a demand for vegan drinks in your area. Surveying or engaging with customers can provide valuable insights into their interests and desires, which will help you boost customer satisfaction long term.
Reach out to your beverage suppliers and distributors to inquire about their range of vegan drinks. Ask for a list of vegan wines, beers, and spirits, as well as any vegan-friendly mixers or non-alcoholic beverages. Finding the right suppliers is crucial for the success of your restaurant, so take the time to speak with as many as you can.
Review Existing Menu Items
Evaluate your current drink menu to identify any existing vegan options. Determine whether you can modify or adapt some of these beverages to be vegan-friendly. This may involve substituting animal-derived ingredients with plant-based alternatives or reworking the recipes of some great cocktails.
Develop New Vegan Drink Options
Once you have an understanding of vegan drinks and customer preferences, brainstorm and create new options. This could include developing signature cocktails or mocktails that are entirely vegan. Experiment with locally-sourced ingredients like fresh fruits, herbs, spices, and plant-based milks or syrups. You can always get the help of a cocktail expert, too.
Consider Food Pairings
Think about how vegan drinks can complement your food menu. Consider the beverages' flavors, textures, and profiles and how they can enhance the dining experience. This way you can create a Michelin Star restaurant experience! Great food and beverage pairings can even help you earn a Michelin Star and even get among the top 25 Michelin Star restaurants in the US.
Provide training to your staff members on the vegan drinks menu. Ensure they understand the ingredients, preparation methods, and unique features of each drink. This will allow them to confidently discuss and recommend vegan drinks to customers and answer any questions they may have. A sure way to improve customer experience!
Promote and Market
Once your vegan drinks menu is finalized, promote it effectively. Highlight the vegan offerings on your website, social media channels, and other promotional materials. Emphasize the uniqueness and quality of the vegan drinks to attract customers who specifically seek out vegan options. In general, offering vegan drinks is not only great for the vegan customers but a great opportunity for your restaurant marketing, as well.
What Type of Drinks Need to Be on a Vegan Drinks Menu
Wondering what type of drinks are always a good idea? Here’s a list of vegan beverages to add to the menu of your restaurant:
Offer a selection of vegan wines, including reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines. Ensure they are clearly marked as vegan-friendly on the menu.
Include a range of vegan craft beers from breweries that do not use animal-derived fining agents in the brewing process (see: craft beer and food). Try to offer various styles, such as lagers, ales, IPAs, stouts, or sour beers to provide enough options for beer enthusiasts. Think about including gluten-free beer, as well as non-alcoholic beer to cater to a larger customer base.
Create a selection of yummy vegan cocktails. Use fresh fruits, herbs, spices, and plant-based mixers to make them tasty and beautiful at the same time. Classic cocktails like Mojitos, Margaritas, or Martinis can easily be made vegan by using vegan-friendly ingredients.
Don’t forget about the people who love a fancy drink but want to avoid or don’t like different types of alcohol! Create unique combinations using fresh fruit juices, herbs, soda, or flavored syrups. If you have a hard time deciding what to make specifically for your restaurant, you can take advantage of the expertise of a mixologist.
Tea and Tea-based Beverages
Include tea varieties and a range of tea-based beverages like herbal iced teas, kombucha, or cold-brewed teas, and matcha teas. These beverages can provide a healthier option for customers and for the ones who don’t enjoy coffee.
Fresh Juices and Smoothies
Incorporate a selection of freshly squeezed juices and smoothies made from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and plant-based milks. Offer options with different flavor profiles and nutritional benefits.
Specialty Coffee and Plant-Based Milk Alternatives
Serve specialty coffee drinks made with plant-based milk alternatives such as almond milk, oat milk, or soy milk. This allows customers to enjoy their favorite coffee beverages while adhering to their dietary preferences. Specialty coffee on its own is also a great option to serve in a restaurant because of its high quality and great taste. You can also serve cold brew coffee with vegan milk.
Offer infused waters, flavored sparkling water, or natural fruit-infused water as a healthy and refreshing option for those looking for a hydrating beverage.
If you incorporate so many different beverage options on your restaurant menu, think about how you are going to manage the inventory. Make your life so much easier by taking advantage of beverage inventory software, such as BinWise Pro.
Thanks to the platform, you will be able to track quantities with ease, avoid man-made mistakes, track customer behavior, and more. Book a demo to find out about all the unique features!
Frequently Asked Questions about Vegan Drinks in Restaurants
Need some more information? Here you can find answers to some common questions regarding vegan drinks and restaurant menus!
Are Vegan Drinks More Expensive?
It all depends on the ingredients being used in certain vegan drinks. For example, a latte made with cow’s milk could have a lower price because the vegan version may be using almond milk, which is more expensive.
When it comes to vegan wine, however, there should not be a price difference as the differences in the production process are very small. In general, it really depends on the situation and the type of drink you are curious about.
Check out our article on "Average drink prices at bars" for more information on the topic of pricing.
How Many Vegan Drink Options to Add to the Menu?
Consider the style of the menu of your restaurant and the number of dishes you serve. The more food you serve, the more beverage options you should have that complement well the cuisine.
This applies when you want to implement vegan drinks on the menu as well. If possible, try to have a trial period when you serve a bit more options that you would like to keep on the menu and narrow them down according to the customer behaviors and feedback.
Are Vegan Drinks Healthier?
Lactose-free drinks can be healthier alternatives, especially for people who have allergies are or lactose intolerant. Vegan drinks that don’t include alcohol and are rich in vitamins are also healthier than some commonly known drink options.
However, it all depends on the ingredients of each drink and how the body of the person will react to it. In general, vegan drinks tend to be healthier for people.