Just because you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, doesn’t mean you have to give up your precious cocktails. (Whew.) But what alcohol is gluten-free? Though it’s true a lot of booze is made with grains, there are plenty of options that qualify as safe by Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) — meaning they contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten — and others still that are 100% gluten-free, for those who don’t want to risk even minimal consumption. Here’s a few you may want to try.
Wine is made from grapes, so it’s inherently gluten free—and therefore the safest alcohol for celiac sufferers to drink. However, you should know that gluten can be used as a clarifying agent, and some wines are fermented in wheat paste-lined barrels, though both processes are very rare, and typically don’t result in a high enough gluten-content to cause a reaction, according to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. Be careful with wine coolers, though: Many are made with malt, a barley-based flavoring. [Click on to read more…]
Traditionally, beer is brewed from grains, and thus a big “no” on a gluten-free diet. That said, many breweries now offer alternatively made options:
- Redbridge: This lager is brewed with sorghum, a grain commonly used in gluten-free beers, and is free of both wheat and barley. The company is in the midst of building a partnership with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), to help increase awareness of Celiac Disease. A product of Anheuser-Busch, Redbridge is nationally available, and can be found in many bars and stores. Use the company’s retail locator to find it near you.
- Bard’s Gluten-Free Beers: Bard’s is a sorghum-based lager created by two guys who have both been diagnosed with celiac disease. Its main selling point is that Bard’s figured out how to malt the sorghum, while keeping it gluten-free, making the taste more similar to traditional beer. Track down the nationally available beer on Bard’s website.
Though some vodkas, like Absolut, Belvedere, and Smirnoff, are wheat- or grain-sourced, the distillation process removes enough of the offending gluten proteins to make it safe, according to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. If you want to err on the side of caution, though, stick with vodkas made from potatoes or grapes. Here are some options:
- Chopin: Chopin does make both rye and wheat vodkas, but the company also offers a potato-based spirit—one so good that it’s won awards at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Chicago Beverage Institute’s International Review of Spirits. Use Chopin’s “Where To Buy” feature on the website to see if it’s available in your area.
- Ciroc: Diddy’s vodka is made with grapes, rather than grains, so it’s safe for celiacs. Stick to the original recipe, though: Flavored vodkas may contain malt, which is not gluten-free. Ciroc tends to be pretty readily available, but you can check where to get it (or buy online) here.
Whiskey is commonly made from grains. Though the distilling process removes enough of the gluten to be considered safe by the FDA, people with significant gluten sensitivities tend to stay away from the spirit altogether. There is one option, though:
- Queen Jennie Whiskey: This product of Wisconsin-based Old Sugar Distillery is actually made from 100% sorghum, rather than the typical whiskey grains. If you want to taste this spirit in a bar, you’ll have to head to Wisconsin, but you can order a bottle yourself online through craft-spirit site Caddel & Williams.
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Rum is distilled from sugar cane, so pretty much any brand is a safe bet. Just be wary when it comes to spiced and flavored varieties, as they may include gluten-containing additives. As with the other alcohols, if you’re highly sensitive — or just want to be as safe as possible— stick with the plain stuff.
As with vodka and whiskey, gin is grain-based, but distilled, meaning it’s safe. But it is possible to find differently made options:
- Cold River: Maine’s Cold River distillery offers a 100% potato-based gin that’s completely gluten-free. Its availability in bars and stores its still quite limited, so your best bet may be to order online.