Have you ever been confused about what to order at a bar? These days, most restaurants will have vegan food alternatives. But what alcoholic beverages can you drink? Are margaritas vegan?
Margaritas are made with tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. All three of these ingredients are plant-based, so margaritas are a vegan-friendly alcoholic drink. However, some recipes may use honey or maple syrup as a sweetener, which puts them in dangerous territory.
This guide is going to help you separate fact from fiction and figure out what makes alcoholic drinks vegan-friendly. Read on to find out what questions you should ask your bartender and what options you have as a vegan who drinks alcohol.
Can Vegans Drink Margaritas?
At their core, margaritas are a vegan drink. All tequila is vegan-friendly because it is sourced from the Mexican blue agave plant. The core of this plant is the only raw material used to make pure tequila. Some brands like Patron are marketed as vegan products, however, you do not need to purchase specific or expensive tequila.
That said, you should avoid flavored tequilas. Products like Tequila Rose or strawberry cream tequila use animal by-products and are not ethically sourced. Do not hesitate to ask a bartender what type of tequila they use or whether it is flavored.
Additionally, certain brands like Tres Agaves have openly stated that some of their tequilas are not vegan. These include the Tres Agaves Anejo, Blanco, and Reposado bottles. However, the company does have a separate vegan line of products.
Another thing to look out for is dead worms in tequila bottles. Keep in mind that this is not common or even normal. You’ll only ever find worms in extremely cheap, poor-quality alcohol. Often bars that use tequila knockoffs may have a worm, but this is extremely rare.
A common ingredient that makes margaritas non-vegan is not the alcohol but the sweeteners used. Some recipes or bars will name their drinks lemon-honey or maple syrup margarita to set them apart. Not only are such drinks generally more expensive, but they are also no longer vegan.
Cointreau or triple sec, the second type of alcohol used in margaritas, is vegan-friendly. Some recipes used orange bitters instead. High-end cocktails like Cadillac Margaritas use Grand Marnier. Each of these ingredients utilizes natural fruit flavors. They are also ethical products and make your margarita safe to drink.
Pair your margaritas with these delicious vegan recipes and jump-start your vegan journey!
[Also read The Secret of Gluten-Free Cocktails]
The Tequila Worm Conspiracy and Mezcal
The tequila worm conspiracy is one of the main reasons vegans are often hesitant about drinking margaritas or other alcoholic drinks. So, what’s the real story behind it? Is there a worm at the bottom of your bottle? The answer – yes and no.
First of all, you may be interested to know that the worm in question is the larvae of a moth. It is not alive and drowns in the alcohol. The larvae are not hallucinogenic. It has no flavor or health benefits, despite rumors to the contrary. All in all, it serves no purpose, except as an unethical marketing plot by the company that makes mezcal.
This brings us to the second point. Tequila does not have worms. Mezcal does have a worm at the end of every bottle that is purposefully added by the manufacturers. Mezcal is not tequila, although both types of alcohol are made by distilling the Mexican agave plant.
There are two types of “worms” used in mezcal, these are the larvae of beetles and moths that live on the agave plant. They are hand-picked off of the plant and dropped in mezcal bottles. To conclude, tequila is vegan-friendly, and mezcal is not!
What Ingredients Make Alcohol Non-Vegan?
Since recipes may vary from bar to bar, it is better to remember the specific ingredients that make alcoholic drinks non-vegan. Many beverages are made using common animal by-products and the drink names don’t always make them easy to identify. So here are some common ingredients and how they’re sourced that you need to look out for.
- Isinglass used in beer and wine comes from fish
- Chitin used in beer and wine comes from crab and lobster shells
- Carmine used in red alcoholic beverages comes from cochineal insects
- Casein used in wine comes from milk
- Gelatine used in wine comes from cow or pig bones
As you may have noticed, unlike tequila and margaritas, most beers and wines are non-vegan because of the use of isinglass, gelatine, and casein. This also applies to ciders and cocktails that use milk and eggs.
If you want to find ethical alternatives, you can find retailers that specifically sell vegan beer. But you’ll likely have to go to a specialty store for that. These vegan drinks use ingredients like carrageenan or pea protein in place of the animal by-products normally used. With a whole range of fruit-based flavors, you have a wide variety of ethical options to choose from.
Make Your Margaritas With These Vegan Recipes
Whether you’re planning for Cinco de Mayo or just a fun brunch, nothing beats margaritas with lunch! Learn how to make 100 percent plant-based, delicious margaritas at home with these simple recipes. The basic recipe is the same, but you can change up the additional ingredients to give your cocktails an extra flavor kick.
1. 2 oz Tequila
Find the perfect tequila for your margaritas. Some popular vegan tequila choices are Casamigos, Sierra, 1800, Espolon, Silver Patron, Don Julio, and Teremana. You can, of course, use any other brand of tequila you like. Just remember that Tequila Rose, Tres Agaves, and other flavored tequilas are not vegan-friendly.
2. 1 oz Cointreau
While Cointreau is a popular choice you can just as easily swap it out with any other orange-flavored liquor like triple sec or blue curacao. Some recipes used orange bitters while high-end cocktails often use Grand Marnier. These are all vegan options so you can pick your favorites based on the slight differences in taste.
3. 1 oz Lime Juice
For that citrussy kick, lime juice is a must. Swap this out with lemons if you don’t have limes on hand.
4. Salt for rim
Mostly for decorative purposes, you can squeeze some lime around the rim of your glass and dip it in salt for a classic margarita look. We recommend using coarse salt instead of fine salt. Top it off with a slice of lime and you’re good to go!
5. ½ oz Sweetener
You have several sweetening options when it comes to vegan margaritas. Ethically sourced maple syrup adds a delicious flavor. Cinnamon is also a great addition to any recipe.
6. Agave to taste
Classic margaritas don’t need to use agave, but it adds a natural sweetness that will elevate your margarita recipe. If you don’t have agave you can use a simple syrup recipe for sugar water as a substitute. Use a 1-to-1 or 2-to-1, sugar and water ratio depending on your preferred syrup richness.
7. Flavors to taste
To make a fruit-flavored margarita, you can use grapefruits, oranges, pineapple watermelon, or peaches. Alternatively, cucumbers or jalapenos can also add a nice touch. Squeeze some fresh juice and add it to the rest of the ingredients in your cocktail shaker for some new and delicious flavor combinations.
- Combine the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and any additional ingredients you’re using in a cocktail shaker.
- Shake it well and pour it out into a glass filled with ice.
- Serve your margaritas blended, on the rocks, or straight up.
- (Optional) Coat the rim of your glass with salt, sugar, or even Tajin.
- (Optional) Garnish your margarita with sage or cilantro.
Are Margaritas Gluten-Free?
You’ll be pleased to know that margaritas are both vegan and gluten-free. The primary ingredients, tequila, lime juice, and triple sec do not use animal byproducts, whey, barley, or rye. As a result, most margarita recipes are safe and ethical drinks for vegans concerned with their gluten intake. Even additional ingredients like agave nectar are gluten-free and contain zero allergens.
Is Vodka Vegan?
Most vodkas are vegan. Almost all spirits are ethically produced, including vodka, gin, whisky, and rum. That’s because these drinks are made by fermenting grains and sugars.
However, flavored vodkas with coffee, coconut, chocolate, caramel, or honey are not vegan-friendly because they use dairy products. Similarly, look out for vodkas distilled from whey or processed with silk.
Which Alcohol Is Not Vegan?
Beer, wines, and cider are all non-vegan alcoholic drinks. Their general filtration processes include animal-sourced ingredients like isinglass, gelatine, and casein. Also, many cocktails use milk and eggs to add a frothy look. Honey is often used in mead. However, there are alternatives. Certain vegan brands use substitutes like carrageenan and pea protein to make vegan beers and wines.
Veganism is great for improving mental health and has numerous health benefits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy alcohol! Margaritas, tequila, vodka, gin, whisky, and rum – you have endless options.
There are even some amazing vegan beers and wine if you’re tastes lie that way. Simply, pay attention to the ingredients you put in your drinks and have fun.