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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Vegan Doughnuts Aren't as Strange as They Sound

Posted By on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Vegan doughnuts.| Patrick J. Hurley
  • Vegan doughnuts.| Patrick J. Hurley

The Drunken Vegan, a.k.a. Patrick J. Hurley, is a full-time barman at the Civil Life Brewing Company and cocktail enthusiast about town. He's an unapologetic drunkard, a vegan and a bon vivant, and, no, he doesn't think those last two terms contradict each other.

This isn't about the great success of the one-year-old, screaming-turquoise purveyor of wacky specialty dones, Strange Donuts (2709 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood; 314-932-5851). And it's not about the new location in Kirkwood, Columbia or the upcoming operation in the Central West End. It's about how the people behind St. Louis' favorite doughnuts work hard to make sure everyone can enjoy those crazy dones.

See also: Reinventing the Cocktail at Layla

You might think a vegan has as much business marching into a doughnut shop as she does hitting a steak house for dinner. The fact is, just about everybody loves doughnuts. Strange Donuts owner Corey Smale agrees. "We try to do five or six different vegan donuts each Friday and Saturday morning. It varies."

The Drunken Vegan should have arrived earlier than he did. Glazed and topped with sprinkles were the two remaining vegan options on a recent Friday morning. While not exactly Strange varieties, they offered a great test of how they stack up to traditional doughnuts. The average nosher probably wouldn't even know the difference.

"We use non-dairy milk, egg replacer and vegan sugar and powdered sugar -- we can't get them in quantity. We have to buy them in smaller amounts," Smale says. "It's definitely more labor-intensive. That's why we just make them twice a week."

Not content with just bringing in the vegan crowd, Smale has perfected a "gluten-less" doughnuts as well. Because they're made on shared equipment, he doesn't call them gluten-free. "We make regular doughnuts at that facility, but [the gluten-less doughnuts] don't have any gluten in them," he explains. "We have a really loyal following for both our vegan and our gluten-less options."

What Smale and his team relish most is the challenge of meeting the needs of every customer. "We're only having fun if we keep challenging ourselves," he concludes. Keep up the good work, Mr. Smale -- and see you Friday morning.

Follow Patrick J. Hurley on Twitter at @VeganDrunkard. E-mail the author at

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