Vegan Guinness Punch:
Guinness Punch is a staple drink of Jamaica that has travelled to most corners of the globe. But for a slight connection between the creamy, alcoholic sensation felt when Bailey’s Irish cream slides decadently down one’s throat, I cannot think of an equivalent. Attempts at vegan Irish creams (all of them) have failed so far.
The Black Liquid in Africa / Caribbean
Nevermind St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness, in meeting the needs of eighteenth-century British soldiers, has long become a part of the colonial story. The first recorded shipment arrived in Sierra Leone in 1827. Ikeja, Nigeria (the capital of Lagos State in southwestern Nigeria), had the first Guinness Brewery outside Ireland and the UK in 1962.
Note: Not America but Nigeria! To be clear, the American Guinness brewery set up before 1962 had already closed.
This Irish ‘juice’ is a Caribbean and African favourite. Nigeria makes such good Guinness that many think it is the best (including me). This is evidenced by Nigeria being third in the world’s top five countries drinking Guinness in 2022. Evidence. Only the UK and Ireland stand above, and despite all the Irish pubs in America, they are a sorry sad fourth. Interestingly, Cameroon is fifth in the world for drinking Guinness.
Who would have thought Africa would occupy two of the world’s top five places for drinking Guinness?
Nigerian Guinness branded ‘Foreign Extra Stout’ has a higher alcohol content of 7.5 per cent, compared to 4 – 5 per cent by volume with Guinness draught and Extra Stout. After drinking Nigerian Guinness, Guinness draught (at least in an English or a US can) tastes like pee-water, and you don’t have to drink that to imagine what I mean.
The other thing to say about Nigerian Guinness is that it is not brewed using barley but with maise or sorghum. It makes the taste slightly more bitter and gives more body. All in all, it packs a bigger punch.
Talking of punch, that’s why Nigerian Guinness is my preferred base for making Jamaican Guinness punch. Like Jollof rice, Rice’ n’ Peas, and Suya Spice, every household has its favourite way of making Guinness punch. Use a different Guinness if you want it creamier with less bite.
In the Caribbean, Guinness is called stout, and records suggest it was first exported from Ireland to Jamaica (and Barbados) in the seventeenth century. Apparently, Caribbean Guinness was deliberately brewed to be more robust than that in Ireland and, like in Nigeria, was called ‘Foreign Extra Stout’ (originally called the West Indies Porter).
However, unlike Nigeria, Jamaican Guinness does not use maise or sorghum but relies on more hobs with a Guinness flavour extract. This is still a ‘Foreign Extra Stout’, but it is less strong than in Nigeria. Jamaican Guinness is 6 – 6.5 per cent proof.
Did the Guinness owners take the idea from Nigeria and bring a ‘Foreign Extra Stout’ alternative to the Caribbean?
Historically, wealthier Irish and Caribbean locals drank rum punch, but for those who couldn’t afford to, stout was the decent alternative. Maybe that’s why the two groups, or at least the two alcohols, kind of converged to create a beverage known as Flip.
Why not put some rum into the stout?
For some alcohol lovers, putting rum into stout was an easy decision, but help was needed to make this ‘Flipping’ beverage work. Adding a mix of sugar cane syrup and milk secured the union, and a sort-of rum liqueur was born.
I realise this might sound utterly disgusting at this stage but do not forget how much we love Bailey’s made of cream, cocoa, and Irish whiskey. Incidentally, Bailey’s Irish Cream was first sold in 1974, and Diageo, who also owns Guinness, currently owns their trademark. It is a wild romantic stretch, but perhaps the origin of Bailey’s lies in the creation of Flip made over two hundred years earlier in Jamaica or the Caribbean.
A recipe for Flip
- 55ml Caribbean Rum
- 100ml milk
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- Grated nutmeg
Flip was said to be a man’s drink associated with hard labour, good nutrients and keeping your strength up. Doctors approved of Flip. Flip was said to enhance a man’s libido, and similar is said about Guinness punch. Maybe I didn’t make it right.
Nigerian Guinness was also linked to masculine power and authority. A James Bond figure was even created around this called Michael Power. It’s ridiculous, obviously. It was a clever Saatchi and Saatchi marketing project designed to create ‘Nigerian loyalty’. Nevertheless, it was highly effective.
To clarify, Dragon Stout represents Jamaica’s locally brewed dark beer, first made in 1929. It’s a sweet less-heavy beer, so not replaceable with Foreign Extra Guinness, especially in making this punch.
Notice in the Flip recipe above that there is an absence of Guinness. Frankly, a rum liqueur hardly needs it especially given the egg yolk. Flip is still around and served as a rather posh cocktail in some quarters.
Q – Wasn’t this article supposed to be about Vegan Guinness Punch?
A – Yes, I’m getting there, but in Jamaica, the roads bend in all sorts of places.
Original Jamaican Guinness Punch
What we have in a Jamaican Guinness Punch is the other side of Flip. The flip side of Flip. It is undoubtedly similar, but the emphasis is on Guinness, with rum rounding it off. The rum part is essential, though many drink this punch without it. Scandalous! As Prince might say, for entirely different reasons.
Guinness, the punch, belongs in a long glass and is heavy – it can be a meal replacement. Not to be gulped down and not overdone because it is rich, as you will see here. As much as Guinness is great for your iron levels, this punch is high in fat and carbohydrates. Using eggs and dairy milk means it’s a cholesterol hazard too.
In the middle 1980s, I made Guinness punch with eggs. The thought of it has me gagging now, but I made it for years and loved it in the following way:
- 2 eggs – Whisk until raised and light
- A tin of condensed milk – this is heavy, sweet, delicious milk (I still have memories). I think I used to fold it and blend it into the eggs. If you don’t want it too sweet, don’t put so much in.
- Vanilla essence – About a teaspoon
- Freshly grated nutmeg – about half a teaspoon
- Two bottles of Nigerian Guinness (Use another or add another Guinness to weaken or add volume if that is your preference)
- Wray & Nephew Rum – A capful and a must because it’s the finishing touch.
Pour into a tall glass with ice and drink summer, winter, autumn, and spring, whether you are a man or a woman.
Nutriment Jamaican Guinness Punch
Years later, a Rasta introduced Guinness Punch to me, replacing eggs with vanilla Nutriment. Amazingly to me, at the time, you could whisk vanilla Nutriment to light and airy, so I made the transition immediately and never used eggs again.
- 1 can Vanilla Nutrient – (Or Dunn’s River Nourishment) Some tried other flavours in Guinness punch – chocolate, strawberry etc. I did not.
- 1 tin of condensed milk – I treated this the same way though the nutrient was sweeter than eggs, so be careful if you take this route.
- Vanilla essence (teaspoon)
- Freshly grated nutmeg (half a teaspoon)
- Wray & Nephew Rum (A capful for that extra layer of gorgeousness)
It tasted fine, and I used this recipe for years with the utmost pleasure.
Vegan Jamaican Guinness Punch
I have been vegan for six years now, and although I’m definitely not going back, I missed this drink so badly! When I finally figured out the alternatives, I was ecstatic, so here is the recipe.
I promise the flavour is unaffected by creating a vegan version of Jamaican Guinness Punch. Honestly.
- 3 cartons of Vegan single cream – You can make it yourself but let us stick to this for now. There are many brands, but if you’re in the US, do not buy vegan coffee creamers as an alternative. They are too sweet. I have successfully used Lacto, Oatly, and Alpro brands. Whisk the cream as you would usually. It is not quite as airy, and it feels lighter in weight, but it works.
- Vegan condensed milk. Yes, you heard me! Google and buy in advance. It is not rare. Nestle have a brand though I have not tried theirs yet. There are several on the market. They come in solids and in thick cream. Stay open. It will still work.
Plus, loads of vegans are making their own condensed milk. It is much easier to make than I thought. Cooked cream and sugar. I used the whole tin, but vegan condensed milk is a little sweeter than cows’, so tread carefully. Check the taste first and respect your taste buds accordingly. Then mix into the single-whisked cream and add the following:
- Vanilla essence – this is tricky. I added a little more than with my dairy versions.
- Freshly grated nutmeg – I added a little bit more than with my dairy versions.
- 2 bottles of Nigerian Guinness – maybe more, maybe less
- Wray & Nephew Rum – 1 capful. It would be a crime to forget this last stage.
I have enjoyed all three versions across the span of too many years to mention, but my favourite is the vegan recipe. For the sake of context, I eat vegan cheese, but in the main, it’s disgusting compared to the dairy products I’ve left behind.
That doesn’t mean veganism is not a great experience.
It is one of the best things I have ever done.
The Guinness punch flavours are there in this vegan recipe. There is no weird background taste as that with eggs, and because vegan cream is lighter and neutral, the drink has all the same satisfaction without the heaviness of the others.
It genuinely feels more refreshing. I am delighted to have left eating baby chicks and their foetuses a long time ago, but to say Guinness punch is now free from cholesterol (no dairy milk) has also got to be a huge plus whether you’re vegan or not.
If for that reason alone, it’s worth a try.