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Vegan Drinks at Restaurants: A Guide on What to Serve & How

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Over the past few decades, a lot more people in the US and worldwide switched to a vegan diet. This created a shift in the hospitality industry as well. Many restaurants started offering entirely vegan meals. Although this seems like an easy fix for a restaurant menu, vegan drinks can pose a challenge.

With the concept of the business in mind, the restaurant manager and/or owner needs to curate a range of quality vegan drinks. Customers on a plant-based diet are not and should not be limited to drinking only water, coffee, juices, and tea. 

There is a wide range of drinks they can enjoy. In case you are struggling to find the right types of vegan drinks to serve at your restaurant, this guide will be helpful for you. Let’s just right into it!

How to Create a Vegan Drinks Menu that Appeals to Customers

When you are adding CBD drinks and special cocktails to a menu, you need to do good research, plan everything, find vendors, spend time organizing inventory, and more. It’s the same when you are adding vegan drinks and/or gluten-free beverages to your beverage program. Here’s what you need to know when adding more options: 

  • Learn about Vegan Drinks - Take the time to learn about alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, suitable for vegans. You should research includes finding vegan wine, beer, spirits, juices, and other non-alcoholic options. Gather information about the ingredients used in each beverage to make sure they are free from animal products or byproducts.
  • Analyze Customer Behavior - Explore the preferences of your target group. See if there’s a demand for vegan drinks in your area that’s not met by many businesses. Gathering information from customers can provide valuable insights into their wants and needs, which will help you improve customer experience long term. 
  • Choose Suppliers - Ask for a list of vegan wines, beers, and spirits, as well as any vegan-friendly mixers or non-alcoholic beverages from local businesses that supply restaurants, bars, and hotels. Talk to as many businesses as you can to find quality beverages at good prices.  
  • Evaluate Existing Drinks - Review your current menu to see what options you already have for vegan customers. Think about changing some drinks to make them vegan-friendly. This may involve substituting animal-derived ingredients with plant-based alternatives.
  • Create New Vegan Drinks - This step can include creating signature cocktails or mocktails. Try some locally-sourced ingredients like fresh fruits, herbs, spices, vegan milk, or syrups. Involve a cocktail expert, too. 
  • Consider Food Pairings - Think about what drinks will complement your veggie dishes. This way you can create a Michelin Star restaurant experience by just offering quality pairings.
  • Train Waiters and Bartenders - Make sure your restaurant staff understands the ingredients, preparation methods, and unique features of each vegan drink you offer. It’s crucial to prepare them for the questions customers may have. They should also be able to offer good food and beverage pairings.
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What Type of Drinks Need to Be on a Vegan Drinks Menu

There’s a range of vegan drinks you can add to your restaurant’s menu. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular ones that you should definitely consider!

  • Vegan Wine - Curate a selection of vegan wines. Reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines should be available on your wine list. Mark them as vegan-friendly on the menu.
  • Craft Beers - Supply vegan craft beers from breweries where animal products are not being used in the production process. Serve different styles - lagers, ales, IPAs, stouts, or sour beers.
  • Vegan Cocktails - Use alternative ingredients in classic cocktails (vegan milk instead of cow’s milk, for example) and create your own unique vegan drinks, too. 
  • Mocktails - Fancy drinks can be alcohol-free. Create some options for customers who are vegan but also avoid alcohol. If you need help with that, turn to a mixologist.
  • Tea and Tea Beverages - Add tea varieties to your menu. You can also make a range of tea-based beverages like herbal iced teas, cold-brewed teas, and matcha teas
  • Fresh Juices and Smoothies - Freshly squeezed juices and smoothies are great options for people looking for healthy alternatives. Use plant-based milk for the smoothies of your vegan customers.
  • Specialty Coffee and Plant-Based Milk Alternatives - Serve specialty coffee drinks made with vegan milk to allow customers to enjoy their favorite coffee beverages.
  • Infused Waters - Offer infused waters with fruits. They are tasty and hydrating options for all kinds of customers. 

Now, let’s see what types of vegan milk you can use to create unique coffee and cocktails drinks, suitable for vegans and lactose intolerant customers. 

Top 5 Plant-Based Milks for Coffee and Cocktail Making

Cow’s milk can be replaced with many plant-based alternatives. However, those considered to go well with most coffee and cocktail drinks, are coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, ​​oat milk, and soy milk. Each of them has its own unique flavor and goes best with a different drink.

  • Oat milk works well with coffee and cocktails. It froths easily, so it’s a good option for latte art.
  • Almond milk pairs well with coffee and is commonly used instead of cow’s milk in Amaretto Sour or Almond Joy Martini. 
  • Coconut milk is often used in tiki cocktails like Piña Coladas or Painkillers. It pairs well with flavors like pineapple, mango, as well as rum.
  • Soy milk is commonly used in classic cocktails like the White Russian or Espresso Martini. It’s great for coffee drinks, too. 
  • Cashew milk works well in both coffee and cocktails, adding a smooth and rich element. It pairs nicely with flavors like caramel, vanilla, or spiced liqueurs.

Why Restaurants Should Use Plant-Based Milks in Drinks

Even if you don’t want to incorporate plant-based milk in your drinks, that’s fine. But before you decide not to make any changes, let’s see why it would be a good idea to tap into the vegan drinks market. 

  • Catering to dietary preferences - Create drinks for people who follow a plant-based, vegan, or lactose-free diet.
  • Health consciousness - Vegan milk is often perceived as healthier, so this will be appealing to health-conscious people. 
  • Introducing new flavors - Plant-based milks offer different flavors and can help diversify your beverage menu. 
  • Environmental sustainability - Plant-based milk is said to have a lower environmental impact in terms of production when compared to cow’s milk and other types of dairy milk.
  • Innovation and differentiation - Incorporating vegan milk in your drinks can look innovative and entice more customers to try various drinks. 
  • Increased market demand - Tap into the growing market of plant-based drinks by offering coffee and cocktails with alternatives to cow’s milk. This is a great way to boost customer experience without investing a ton of money.
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Vegan Milk Alternatives for Classic Cocktail Recipes

Vegan milk is becoming increasingly popular lately. Different plant-based milks are alternatives to the classic dairy milk, which we commonly use in coffee and cocktail drinks

This shift is something restaurants should not neglect. Restaurant owners need to work on their beverage program to make drink options more appealing to people. 

Vegan Milk to Avoid Using in Cocktails

All types of vegan milk have pros and cons. However, there are some types you should avoid adding to cocktails altogether. They are: 

  • Flavored Plant-Based Milks
  • Rice Milk
  • Hemp Milk

In case you want to incorporate hemp products in your beverages, look into CBD-infused drinks. CBD cocktails are also becoming popular and restaurants can benefit from adding them to their offers. Learn about the health benefits of CBD drinks and see how you can incorporate them into your beverage menu!

Vegan Milk to Use in Cocktail Drinks

Choosing a specific type of vegan milk for a cocktail depends on personal preference. However, when it comes to developing a beverage menu, it would be best to work with true cocktail experts. They can help you narrow down options and create unique and tasty vegan drinks. Even signature cocktails with plant-based milk alternatives.

Here’s what types of milk is best to use in different classic cocktails:

  • Almond Milk - White Russian, Mudslide, Amaretto Sour, Almond Milk Eggnog, Almond Milk Punch
  • Coconut Milk - Piña Colada, Coconut Mojito, Hurricane, Coconut Margarita, Coconut White Russian
  • Oat milk - Oat Milk White Russian, Mudslide, Oatmeal Cookie Martini, Spiked Horchata, Golden Milk Cocktail, Vegan Eggnog
  • Soy Milk - Grasshopper, Tom and Jerry, Chai Martini, Vegan Irish Coffee
  • Cashew milk - Brandy Alexander, Rum Chata, Nutty Alexander

Vegan Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Add to Your Restaurant Menu

There are a lot of vegan drinks with different types of alcohol. People love and enjoy those for sure, but some customers also look for non-alcoholic beverages. For vegans, this can limit their choices quite a bit, so restaurants need to make an effort and expand their offerings. 

Why Should You Add Vegan Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Your Restaurant Menu

Alcohol-free cocktails (also known as mocktails), are not the only thing you can serve. There are many options that will satisfy vegan and vegetarian customers, as well as those who struggle with lactose intolerance, allergies, or other health-related issues. 

Let’s see why it’s important to add alcohol-free vegan drinks to your year-round, as well as seasonal menu and even the brunch menu of your restaurant. 

  • Cater to a diverse customer base 
  • Accommodate designated drivers and non-drinkers
  • Enhance the dining experience
  • Differentiate your restaurant
  • Increase revenue potential
  • Align with sustainable and ethical values
  • Showcase creativity and innovation

What Types of Vegan Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Serve

If you are looking for ideas on what to serves, here are our suggestions: 

  • Mocktails - serving creative, flavorful, and beautifully garnished mocktails is always a good idea. Choose beautiful glassware, too!
  • Freshly squeezed juices - freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices are something most people love. Offer options like orange, apple, and pineapple juice, or combinations like green juice with spinach, cucumber, kale, and lemon. You can come up with other unique juice blends, too. 
  • Specialty iced teas - it’s great to offer classics like iced black tea, iced green tea, or herbal iced teas. You can add some more unique options like fruit-infused iced teas or add natural sweeteners, such as agave syrup or stevia. 
  • Flavored lemonades - strawberry lemonade, raspberry lemonade, or mint-infused lemonade are all great options. Think about adding fun garnishes or serving them in classy glassware to elevate the look. 
  • Crafted soda or sparkling water - craft sodas or flavored sparkling water are both refreshing options that will be enjoyed by many. Search for brands that use natural sweeteners and flavors.  
  • Non-alcoholic beer and wine - non-alcoholic wine and beer are both beverages designated drivers and people avoiding alcohol will love to see on your menu. 
  • Specialty coffee and tea - specialty tea and coffee are becoming more popular over the past few years and both vegan and non-vegan clients will be happy to see them on your menu. Matcha tea is another beverage to look into and add to your offers

Vegan Wine: Production, Sourcing, and Food Pairings 

According to some recent research, approximately 88 million people in the world are vegans. The number is only expected to grow, so to boost customer satisfaction, restaurant businesses need to add plant-based options to their menu. 

Serving vegan drinks is not limited to cocktails, mocktails, coffee drinks, juices, and other such beverages.  Vegan wine also needs to get on your wine list!

Vegan Wine Definition

Vegan wine is made without the use of any animal products involved in the process. Winemaking typically involves fining agents that help clarify the wine by getting rids of impurities and sediment. The agents commonly include animal-based substances like egg whites, gelatin or fish bladder.

To make the wine vegan, the fining agents have to be free of any animal products. Common ones vegan winemakers use are pea protein, bentonite clay, activated charcoal, or plant-based gums. For a wine to be vegan, it should nto be sweetened with honey. 

Differences Between Regular and Vegan Wines

The difference between regular and vegan wines is not limited to the fining agents but it also has an ethical side. The vegan wines are becoming a lot more popular lately because of the many people adapting a vegan lifestyle.

Those who want to be eating vegan and living in a vegan way want to make sure that the beverages they are drinking are vegan-friendly as well. Like everyone else, vegans would love to enjoy some great cocktails and wine - guilt-free. 

Drinking vegan wine supports the winemakers who are making an effort to not use animal products. Some customers want to drink vegan wine for health reasons, as these wines typically are free of most allergens.

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Why Should You Offer Vegan Wine

There’s a bunch of reasons why it is beneficial for restaurants, hotels, bars, and country clubs, to have vegan wine options. They are: 

  • Attracting a Diverse Customer Base - vegans, vegetarians, and other people with specific dietary needs commonly seek out places to eat that align with their values and provide options. This makes vegan wine important for restaurants. 
  • Enhanced Reputation and Differentiation - offering vegan wine is something you need to use in your restaurant marketing campaigns to increase awareness. This will help you boost the reputation of your business and show that you cater to a wide variety of customers. 
  • Increasing Revenue - offering a variety of wines often provides upselling opportunities. This is a great way to boost the revenue of your restaurant.

Can Different Types of Wine Be Vegan?

From reds and whites to roses and sparkling wines - all kinds of wine can be made vegan. This allows everyone who is on a vegan diet to enjoy their favorite types of wine. 

Which Vegan Dishes Go Well with Vegan Wine?

Pairing vegan dishes with wine can be a very enjoyable experience. Here are some pairings to try with a nice glass of vegan wine: 

  • Vegan Cheese and Charcuterie - Pair different plant-based cheeses with vegan crackers, olives, fruits, and pickled vegetables.
  • Vegetable-Based Appetizers - Try vegetable-based appetizers, such as bruschetta with grilled asparagus, tomatoes and basil, marinated artichoke hearts, or stuffed mushrooms.
  • Pasta Dishes - Creamy vegan pasta, tomato souse pasta, and pasta with pesto are all great options to pair with vegan wine. 
  • Vegetable Stir-Fries or Curries - Bold spice flavors, curry and stir-fries with coconut milk base are a great options to pair with quality vegan wines.
  • Grilled Vegetables or Veggie Burgers - Grilled vegetables like zucchini, zucchini, bell peppers, and even veggie burgers, are great to enjoy with vegan wines.
  • Vegan Sushi or Sashimi - Vegan sushi is a great meal to have with a variety of vegan wines, too. 
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