Why Fermented Cocktails are Growing in Popularity (+15 of our Favourites to Try)

January 24, 2023 by Karl Tessendorf

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If you’ve ever fermented anything, then you’ll know just how magical the process is. Millions of invisible microorganisms work in unison to raise bread, ferment kimchi, turn grapes into wine, and barley into beer. It’s an age-old process, and it’s never been more popular than it is right now. Fermented cocktails have popped up in the last few years with bartenders falling in love with the fermented funk and tang. Join us as we stick a toe into the fermentation pool, and discover fermented cocktails.   

What is Fermentation?

Bubbles of fermenting yeast

Humans have been using fermentation for thousands of years. It was the ideal way to preserve food before refrigeration was invented, but it was only recently that we understood how it works. In 1857, Louis Pasteur peered into a microscope and discovered the multiplying world of yeast and bacteria. After careful observation, he concluded that yeast and bacteria were responsible for fermentation. 

Fermentation is a complex beast, but at its core, it’s a process of metabolic transformation. Living organisms like yeast, bacteria, and fungi feed on carbohydrates like starches or sugars. As they feed, alcohol and acids are produced. Fermentation is responsible for many of the planet’s favourite food and drinks, like wine, beer, cheese, yoghurt, and bread.    

How Fermentation Works

Different food and drinks require different fermentations to get the best results.  The three main types of fermentation are lactic acid fermentation, ethanol alcohol fermentation, and acetic acid fermentation.  

Lactic acid fermentation

Multiple jars of fermented vegetables

If you’ve ever eaten yoghurt, kimchi, or sauerkraut, you’ve tasted the fruits of lactic acid fermentation. Lactobacillus bacteria is the star of the show, and as it munches its way through your sauerkraut, it produces lactic acid. The lactic acid helps preserve food and gives it that signature tang.    

Ethanol alcohol fermentation

Fermentation tanks

We may be biased here, but this is our favourite form of fermentation. It’s the one responsible for all fermented alcoholic drinks, as well as bread and pastries—basically all the good things in life! Ethanol alcohol fermentation has two stages. Primary and secondary fermentation. Alcohol is produced in the primary stage, and flavour and character in the secondary one.    

Acetic acid fermentation

A bottle of apple cider vinegar

Acetic acid fermentation is how vinegar is made. You can think of it as the next stage of fermentation after you’ve made alcohol. Acetic acid bacteria oxidise the sugars and alcohol to produce vinegar. Apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar are all examples of this fermentation.   

How to use fermented drinks in cocktails

Using fermented drinks in your cocktails is as easy as mixing them in. Ginger beer, apple cider, and wine can all be used to create fermented cocktails. So, get crazy, go wild, and explore the fermented side of cocktails.   

Ginger Beer Cocktails

Two Limoncello Moscow Mules on a window sill of a oceanside house overlooking the sea on a sunny day

Ginger beer is a great mixer for fermented cocktails that adds a refreshing and fiery bite of ginger. Make sure you buy a proper fermented ginger beer and not ginger ale.  Here are a few of our favourite ginger beer cocktails to try at home: 

Mexican Mule

Kentucky Mule

Moscow Mule

Dark ‘n Stormy

Whiskey Highball

Best of Ginger: All the Tangy Ginger Beer Cocktails You’ll Ever Need

Apple Cider Cocktails

Two cups of Mulled Apple Cider on a table in front of a window in a cosy living room over the festive season

A good apple cider will give any fermented cocktail a crisp apple flavour and a touch of fermented funk. Here are a few interesting cocktails to try if you want to feature apple cider as the star of the show: 

Apple Cider Vinegar Cocktail

Apple Cider Float

Non-Alcoholic Mulled Apple Cider

Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail

Sparkling Apple Cider Cocktail

Wine Cocktails

Close up of a pitcher of Blueberry Sangria on a counter in a kitchen

Wine is perhaps the most overlooked fermented cocktail ingredient of all. This fermented beverage has really stood the test of time and makes a great base for a mixed drink. Here are a few to try:

Mulled Wine


Aperol Spritz

Negroni Sbagliato

Kir Royale

Get bubbly! 10 Sparkly Prosecco Cocktails for Festive Celebrations

There you have it – 15 amazing cocktails with fermented ingredients to try at home. Which one will you pour first? Tag us in your pictures on Instagram and sign up for our newsletter for more trendy cocktail inspiration.


Wine, beer, ginger beer, kombucha, mead, kefir, and kvass are all fermented beverages.

Many fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir water are good for gut health because they’re packed with probiotics.

When wine or beer is produced, it’s fermented with yeast. During the process, it converts sugar and starches into alcohol.

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