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Substitutes That Look Like Alcoholic Drinks For Photos

In food photography, there may be times where you want to take pictures of alcoholic drinks.

Unfortunately, alcohol content will always drive up the price of a drink and as such, the price of your shoot. 

If you’re on a budget and want some options to use as stand-ins for alcoholic drinks, then you can use some of the substitutes that I mention below in your photos.

Here’s a quick summary: 🥂

  • White wine looks like – white grape juice, lime cordial, or watered down apple juice
  • Red wine looks like – cranberry juice, red grape juice, blackcurrant juice, or blackcurrant cordial.
  • Vodka or other clear spirits look like – water or sparkling water/ lemonade for a sparkling drink
  • Light colored whiskey looks like – apple juice
  • Darker colored whiskey looks like – tea or iced tea
  • Beer looks like – ginger beer, ginger ale, or, washing up liquid + yellow food coloring + water

What Liquid Looks Like White Wine?

Watered down apple juice, lime cordial, or white grape juice can work for this.

You may need to be careful to get the right colour since white wine is quite specific so again play about with the dilution that you use. 

What Liquid Looks Like Red Wine? 

Similar to the above you can use berry juices to recreate red wine.

Examples include red grape juice, cranberry juice or blackcurrant juice. Pretty much any reddish berry juice can work depending on the exact colour you are going for. 

You can also try a cordial like blackcurrant cordial. 

What Liquid Looks Like Vodka? (or Any Other Clear Alcoholic Drinks)

This one is a pretty easy one since vodka is clear, but you can fake something like a vodka martini by simply using water. 

If you were planning to replicate a cocktail that has a carbonated element you can use lemonade instead since that is also clear.

What Liquid Looks Like Whiskey? 

This one depends on the whiskey as some can be darker than others. For lighter coloured whiskeys, you can use apple juice. 

For darker coloured whiskey, you can use tea or iced tea instead. Play about with how much you infuse the tea and the dilution depending on the colour that you want.  

What About Unnaturally Coloured Drinks That Are Blue, Green, etc. ?

For this you can use food colouring mixed in with water if it is a flat drink.

But most of the time interesting colours like these tend to be found in alcopops so they’ll probably be carbonated.

In this case you can use sparkling water or lemonade mixed with food colouring.

What Liquid Looks Like Beer?

For beer you can just use non alcoholic beers like ginger beer or you can use something like ginger ale.

Another way is to use some yellow food colouring, washing up liquid and water. Check out this video to see how.

Another way to make a frothy head is to use a citrus juice mixed with egg whites.

Please Note

Depending on the country that you reside in and whether your image will be used for advertising, you may have specific laws prohibiting the use of fakes for food and drinks in product advertising. 

Always check what laws will apply to you before you or your client gets in trouble.

Of course if you are just doing this for fun and for a cool photo then you shouldn’t have to worry. 

Now you should know how to use cheap substitutes for alcoholic drinks for your photography or as props on a set.

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