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Gluten-free Cocktails? We'll Drink to That!

By:  Marshall  Smith  Abe's Enthusiast  September 23rd, 2013

Life is all about moderation, which means balancing work with a welcome bit of downtime and play time. For some, this means reading a book or hitting the gym. Others like to gather with friends for a casual drink to help wind things down. However, if you’re sensitive to gluten, getting a beverage that won’t have you feeling sick can be a challenge. Fear not, here’s a list of gluten-free drinks worth raising a glass to.

Gluten-free Alcoholic Beverages

Gluten-free Beer

If you’re looking to get some gluten free cold ones in your life, beers brewed with alternative grains such as buckwheat, sorghum, rice or corn are the way to go. A steadily increasing number of commercial beers and microbrews alike are available for gluten-sensitive people. Bon Appetit provides a list of 10 particularly delicious brews that nix the gluten entirely.

Gluten-free Cider

Mirroring recent trends in beer brewing, several hard cider manufacturers have set their sights on crafting exceptional gluten-free beverages. Unfortunately, despite a common belief that all ciders are safe for those with gluten sensitivity, this isn’t always the case. Some ciders may contain trace amounts of gluten, which is enough to trigger reactions in those with high levels of sensitivity. My Gluten Free NJ provides a handy list of celiac-friendly hard ciders that has plenty of great options found on a national level. If you’re in the Chicago area, a newer company, Virtue Cider, is another delicious option (from one of the former owners of Goose Island Beer Co).

Gluten-free Spirits

When it comes to the hunt for gluten-free booze, liquor isn’t necessarily quicker; some careful label reading is required. Although some sources say all distilled alcohols should be good to go for those with sensitivity to gluten, a number of independent reports and accounts suggest otherwise. Unfortunately, the possibility of unpredictable cross-contamination complicates things right off the bat. Furthermore, some alcohols enhance color and taste with additives thrown in after the distillation process. Because of all this, caution is the best approach: Use your best judgment, but you should do that anyway when it comes to drinking, right?

So what can you drink? Potato-, corn- and grape-based vodkas are safe. Fortunately you don't have to scour ingredient lists; just look here, where you'll find some obscure and more well-known gluten-free vodka like Tito's Handmade, Ciroc and Chopin. And check out rum and tequila, which are almost always gluten free. A small caveat: Keep your eyes peeled for added “natural flavor” that can sometimes be gluten in disguise.

For a quality gluten-free mixed drink, Glutenista provides a number of much-welcome recipes totally free of gluten for any 21+ celiacs or gluten sensitive folks. A round of pineapple mojitos perhaps?

Gluten-free Wine

As for fine wine enthusiasts, that vintage Merlot can be uncorked worry free. However, most wines contain trace amounts of gluten. Although this means most folks with regular gluten sensitivity are in the clear, people with the most reactivity to gluten might have issues. Calling the manufacturer is always a great route when in doubt. Also, like spirits, gluten-free exceptions come in the form of added ingredients, so be sure to be extra attentive to the label. Dessert wines in particular are known for having added flavors that can potentially contain gluten. Champagne? You can pretty much always raise a glass of bubbly and be OK.


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Marshall Smith

Abe's Enthusiast

Marshall Smith When he’s not napping, producing music or doing cardio, Marshall can be found eating meals before he's finished cooking them. Marshall’s main weaknesses include overindulging in goat cheese, bass music, and Oxford commas

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