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Vegan cocktails exist! • Brooklyn Paper

Vegan cocktails exist!

It’s all in the smoke: Pine Box bartender Tony shows off the Devil in Disguise Bloody Mary, which features vegan bacon vodka.
Photo by Ken Yapelli

Party like an animal — but don’t eat one.

Meat-eaters rarely think of the animal products in alcoholic beverages, but booze can contain dairy, fish, insects, and even bone — putting vegan drinkers in a tight spot.

Thankfully for them, the Pine Box Rock Shop helps vegans get lit without compromising their lifestyle.

“It’s an ethical choice on our part. I like the idea that vegan food is normal food,” said Heather Rush, who co-owns the Grattan Street bar with her husband, Jeff.

The duo keeps animal products off the menu and out of their drinks, avoiding all alcoholic beverages that contain a “binder,” such as bone meal or egg whites, often used to keep sediment at the bottom of bottles. They also write off any drinks made with carmine, a beetle extract used to color cheap schnapps and sloe gin.

And when Rush can’t find vegan versions of a spirit, she makes her own.

The bar carries a number of fancy drinks in its own vegan variations.

The bartenders make their own Bailey’s-type cream out of vanilla vodka, Kahlua, Frangelico, and vanilla soy milk, which make up the “Sam in a Sweater,” a mix of the vegan cream with root beer, Cointreau, vodka and brandy cherries. And since most Worcestershire sauces — used in Bloody Marys — include anchovies, they use their own version that instead has a vegetable protein.

Vegan customers say they appreciate the adjustments.

“It’s refreshing to be able to go to a bar and order anything from a stout to a pina colada and not have to worry about the ingredients,” said Erin McSorley. “And everything’s really good too. ‘Sam in a Sweater’ is my favorite.”

Many of the bar’s omnivorous patrons don’t realize that the bar is vegan, and come instead for the atmosphere, good beer, and karaoke and trivia nights — and, of course, the naked lady pictures in the bathrooms.

“I didn’t know that it was a vegan bar, but I guess that’s good,” said Jon Lehman, who lives in Greenpoint. “People need to have options. I just come here because I like the bar.”

The taproom also offers vegan empanadas and occasionally invites vegan food trucks to park on the street in front.

Rush, who is a vegan herself, said she decided to make the pub animal-product-free to offer an option to vegans around the city.

“I don’t want to be one of these people who put their politics out there as a business owner,” said Rush, whose bar contains only one video game, a big-game shoot-’em-up. “But it’s so easy, I figured, why not?”

Pine Box Rock Shop [12 Grattan St., between Morgan Avenue and Bogart Street in Bushwick, (718) 366–6311, www.pineboxrockshop.com].

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