Archive for the ‘beverages’ Category

Sweet tea vodka


Chai is really big in Russia.

Not the spicy sweet chai that we drink over here — chai  is usually plain ol’ black tea, but it could be green or white or whatever. Chai just means tea.

Russians like tea and Russians like vodka, so why not combine them? Sweet tea vodka ala Firefly is really really easy to make. You just soak 4 or 5 black teabags in vodka for a few hours, remove them, and add 1/4 cup of vegan cane sugar and let that dissolve over a few days. This is easiest in a large mason jar.

BAM — alcoholic Arnold Palmer in no time.

Vegan marshmallow vodka

I was going to post this yesterday, but I got all distracted painting transitional housing for AIDS patients as part of United Way’s Day of Caring. Then I was going to take better pictures this morning, but I had to rush off to Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Animals.

I’m just going to take a moment to pat myself on the back and to let you fully grasp what a good person I am.

Okay, that’s enough.

There are a lot of disgusting vodka flavors on the market right now. I don’t know why or how this trend started (FYI — commercially made Strawberry vodka is the grossest stuff ever) but, like Russia’s laws on homosexuality, I’d like to see it go.

However, if you are intrigued by the whipped cream or marshmallow flavors and question whether or not they are vegan, do I have the equally disgusting solution for you: make your own by soaking half a package of Dandies in 750 mL of vodka for a few days and then straining.
The vodka will take on a marshmallowy flavor and a delightful cloudiness, and the Dandies will turn into these weird opaque blobs.

I wish I could better capture the otherworldly jiggle of a vegan marshmallow that has been soaking in vodka for three days, the plop of alcohol-soaked Dandies hitting alcohol-soaked Dandies as they’re poured into a strainer.

Drink it in juice, cocktails, or never.

Beet kvass

My job is perfect because the variety of responsibilities both rewards and perpetuates my hummingbird attention span.

I came across a recipe for beet kvass while looking up iron-rich recipes for work — bloody red beets are good for your blood, so it would seem.

With my love of beets and propensity for the culinary oddities, I decided to give it a try, subbing out the whey for salt as recommended.

It basically tastes like salty beet water. Nothing against salty beet water, but I question its health promoting qualities.

Na Zdorov’ye!


Medova z pertsem (“honey” and pepper) vodka


Hyperforeignism is the term for making foreign things more exotic then they’re supposed to be — I credit Ty for teaching me this.

Habanero peppers are a good example. You often see a tilde over the n: habañero. This is incorrect. No ñ. Just a plain ol’ boring n-as-in-Nancy.

Vodka is kinda the same way. Take my friend Vitali here. He’s from St. Louis.

But where is he really from, you might ask.

St. Louis.


classiest grocery run ever

I only use cheap American vodka in my infusions. The Russian vodka we get over here is going to be either far better quality or far more expensive, so I go with the cheapest rotgut possible: the flavor of whatever you’re going to infuse it with will counteract the alcohol flavor anyhow. Just as you don’t put Johnny Walker into Coke, you don’t use nice liquor for infusions.

I’m also supporting the boycott on Russian products because of the country’s policies towards homosexuality (even though the New York Times says this won’t do anything to help Russia’s gays). It may not do anything, but it might, and we really don’t need to be importing goods from Europe anyhow, right?

And, before you go judging someone for drinking vodka, a lot of the vodka you see in stores or bars isn’t actually from Russia. Grey Goose and Cîroc are French, Absolut is Swedish, Belvedere is Polish, and all the crap you buy in plastic bottles with handles is as American as Budweiser.


Anyhow, when I was in Russia, I loved this Ukrainian liquor called gorilka (horilka in Ukranian) with honey and peppers. It was a little spicy and a little sweet, but definitely not vegan.

So, I cut a couple of habanero (sans ñ) peppers in half and let them soak in 750 ml of vodka for a couple of days. I strained it, discarded the peppers, poured it back into the original bottle, and added a TBS of agave to give it that horilka brown.

It’s insanely spicy, which is delicious mixed with fruit juice (like the orange San Peligrino above).

Watermelon vodka

I drank a fair amount of vodka in Russia. Back in the day, I could shoot it down like water, no flinching, no gagging — presently, this is not the case.

It helped that cheap vodka is actually of good quality in Russia — the Russian Standard brand costs an arm and a leg in the US, but back when I was hanging out in Russian clubs and bars it was about the same price as our Orlov.

Tanya took me to a fancy place in NYC a few years ago that specialized in infused vodka, and I was really impressed with the idea of making my own. As it turns out, infusing liquor is really easy (you just soak stuff in it), and I’ve been making infusions for myself and friends for the past few years.

After several failed vodkamelons, I finally gave up and inverted the process by soaking 2 cups of watermelon in 750 ml vodka (in a large mason jar) for about a week, then straining out the melon and funneling it back into the original bottle.

The fruit cuts back on the alcohol bite, and I think it’s appropriate, given that “vodka” in Russian translates to “little water” — watermelon little water.

Vegan beer for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is on Saturday, and you’re probably already thinking about what to drink.

Janessa has a recipe for vegan Irish cream that makes me want to do some cruelty-free Irish car bombs. (What would you call a vegan Irish car bomb — an Irish yarn bomb?)

An Irish car bomb is a shot of Irish Cream and Jameson (mmm…) dropped into half a glass of Guinness and chugged; the Irish Cream will curdle in the liquid (like some soy milks in coffee) if you don’t drink it fast enough. It’s gross, but also delicious.

Even if you do veganize your Irish cream, many cherished Irish beers — Guinness, offerings from Beamish & Crawford, Murphy’s Irish Stout, and Smithwick’s products (including Kilkenny) — are not vegan (source: Barnivore), meaning they are brewed with milk or honey, or fined with isinglass (fish bladders), gelatin, or egg.

Before I was a vegan food blogger, I wrote about beer, and finding an appropriate tipple for any occasion is a matter near and dear to my heart, so CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, Irish beer.

For those of you who don’t possess my expert knowledge of malt and hops, Guinness is a stout (“dark beer made using roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast”), Harp is a lager (“a type of beer that is fermented and conditioned at low temperatures”), and I’ve included porters, since porters are similar to stouts.

So, here are a few (Seattle-centric) vegan alternatives for St. Patty’s day:

This little list is a start — check Barnivore or write to your local brewery to see whether your favorite stout or porter is vegan. I was disappointed to learn that Georgetown’s porter is not.

And puh-leez: whatever you do, do not just dye regular beer green. Food coloring may be tested on animals (I still use it my old stuff, but am trying to phase it out), and green beer is just tacky.

Also, if you don’t really drink but still want to partake, this Hearty Irish Lager Stew from Vegetarian Times (h/t to Vegan Moxie!) looks amazing.

image by nagzi via creative commons

Vegan Smith & Wesson

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on a frisbee team. I say that instead of “I play frisbee” because I’m not sure whether running around willy-nilly on a field actually counts as playing. But, my teammates are nice, and they put up with me. We spent the weekend at a tournament in the Tri-Cities.

One such nice, patient teammate, Andie, introduced me to the Smith & Wesson, a drink popular in Central Oregon, where she grew up: a white Russian poured over cola.

Sounds weird, Andie said, but tastes great.

Those are dangerous, cautioned Chris, a coworker, overhearing me mention the drink to another.

Indeed, they are deliciously dangerous — sweet and rich enough to mask the alcohol, yet the unlikely flavor combination blends so well that you can’t stop sipping.

And since today marks the last day of VeganMofo, I’m a-okay with a little overindulgence.

What’s in it?

Kahlua: Kahlua is like Kleenex — a brand name that’s become generalized. Any coffee liquor will do, and Kahlua is also relatively easy to make.

Vodka: A crusty old woman at a liquor store in North Carolina let me in on a great secret years ago: you don’t need good vodka for a white Russian, since the Kahlua will mask the flavor. Buy the cheapest stuff you can.

Cola: I like OOgave Cola. It’s sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. If you belong staunchly to the Coke or Pepsi camp, you may not be a fan, but for the casual soda drinker, it has a pronounced cola flavor and, though quite sweet, is only 98 calories per bottle. You know, if you care.

Coconut creamer: you need a non-soy creamer for this drink, as the acid in the cola will cause the soy to coagulate. Coconut creamer does the trick well, though you could sub almond milk or something — the result will just be less creamy. Or hey, as long as you don’t mind tofu forming in your glass, use soy creamer — the thick, very processed stuff will gunk up less than regular soy milk.

Vegan Smith & Wesson


  • 1 shot Kahlua
  • 1 shot Vodka
  • 1 shot Coconut Creamer
  • 12 oz Cola


  1. Pour 10 oz. or so of cola into a pint glass.
  2. Shake together vodka, kahlua and soy creamer. Pour over cola. Add remaining cola, if room.

Enjoy. And congrats to all who participated in VeganMoFo — I’ve discovered some fantastic new blogs, and had a blast reading all your posts — looking forward to spending November catching up.


The best vegan Bloody Mary ever.

Brunch is the best.

Too late for breakfast but too early for lunch? Brunch.

He want pancakes, she wants sandwich? Brunch.

Want to start drinking before noon? Brunch!

Yup, brunch is the only socially-acceptable way to consume alcohol before you’ve even put food in your system, and Bloody Mary’s are my favorite way to do so.

However, most Bloody Mary’s are not vegan — they’re made with Worcestershire sauce, which typically contains anchovies. So, you’re limited to drinking Bloody Mary’s either at 100% vegan bars or at home.

I love Highline’s Bloody Mary (though it’s super spicy), and set out to create my own signature version, with a little guidance from my cocktail-aficionado pal Brian.

The elements of a great vegan Bloody Mary are as follows.

Vodka is key. You don’t need great vodka, or anything other than plain vodka, but you do need a hefty dose of the stuff. Brian says, “avoid the flavored vodkas, and just get your flavor through ingredients.”

Soy sauce or tamari add a hint of umami richness.

Vegan Worcestershire sauce also bestows a depth of fifth-sense flavor to the drink. Most Worcestershire sauce is not vegan, though the cheapo QFC brand is.

Ground horseradish gives the drink an earthy spiciness. My dad makes homemade horseradish from the plant in my parent’s backyard that is supposedly descended from one of his dad’s plants, so I’m a little biased towards it. However, most ground horseradish found in the condiment aisle is also not vegan — many contain eggs. Kosher horseradish is dairy and egg free, and it’s certainly possible to find just straight up ground horseradish (though the stuff QFC sells in the refrigerator aisle near the cheese never seems to be properly sealed), so look for that.

Lemon juice pairs really well with tomato and horseradish — the classic cocktail sauce trifecta. It brightens the mixture a bit.

Pepper– simple and classic.

Celery is nice, but Pickled vegetables make a classy garnish– and the garnish makes or breaks a Bloody Mary. I adore the pickled green beans with which Highline garnishes their Bloody Mary, but pickled green beans are very hard to find. QFC and Madison Market only sell pickled okra, pickled asparagus, and… pickles, so I asked Brian where to find pickled green beans. He tipped me off to DeLaurenti in Pike Place Market, which has a fantastic selection of pickled veggies, including green beans. I like Mama Lil’s Lilibeans– they’re a spicy take on dilly beans and have nice crunch.

Garlic-stuffed olives: because they’re literally the best edible substance on earth.

Low sodium V8: have you checked the sodium content on regular V8 or tomato juice? Shocking.

Here’s how to make one.

  1. Place vodka, ice cubes, a couple dashes of soy sauce, a generous dash of Worchestershire sauce, a half-tsp or so of horseradish, a generous sprinkle of black pepper, a splash or two of lemon juice, and a dash of Tobasco sauce (if you really want a kick) in a pint glass; fill with V8.
  2. If you’re a serious cocktail aficionado, place all in a cocktail shaker and shake. If you’re not, just sort of stir.
  3. Garnish with pickled veggies.
  4. Drink. Enjoy.
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