If you like to imbibe in the occasional cocktail, but are concerned about your wheat and gluten intake, below is a breakdown of the best gluten free cocktail choices, along with some alcohol selections you should avoid.
Having a glass of wine, brandy or other select cocktails is usually ok with a gluten free diet. However, the majority of beers, ales, lagers and malt liquor are brewed with grains and are therefore recommended off limits when following a wheat free diet and trying to avoid gluten. If your beer is labeled “gluten free”, it should NOT contain gliadin or gluten anywhere on the ingredient label. And, people with extreme gluten sensitivity should avoid ALL beers all-together.
Wine – Wine is the best gluten free cocktail choice, regardless of variety (red, white, rose’, etc.) or vintage. Extremely few winemakers use gluten as a clarifying agent, so you’re actually hard-pressed to even find wine that contains gluten by-products. However, you do want to AVOID all wine coolers, which are a malt beverage brewed with grains. You can easily make your own healthy wine cooler by mixing wine with club soda or seltzer water and a wedge of lemon or lime.
Whiskey – Most of the popular whiskeys are made from distilled grains (rye, corn, barley or wheat). Their gluten levels are on the low side, but those with gluten sensitivity should avoid whiskey. For the majority of people, whiskey typically doesn’t present a problem.
Vodka – Like whiskey, the majority of vodka is made from distilled grains. For most people, they can enjoy vodka with no issues, but for those with gluten sensitivities, opting for a potato or grape based made vodka is the better choice.
Rum – Rum is produced from distilled sugar cane, so it is typically ok for even gluten-sensitive folks to drink. However, you want to stay AWAY from colored/dark rums which often contain caramels and other wheat based added ingredients.
Liquors – Safe gluten free liquors include amaretto; Baileys; triple sec; Kahlua; and Cherry Kijafa. Note; while these liquors are gluten-free, they are HIGH in sugars, typically corn syrup.
So, yes, you can enjoy a gluten-free cocktail but remember to always do so in moderation. Also, choose healthy mixer options such as club soda, seltzer water or mineral water and add in some lemon and lime wedges to get all the flavor without added chemicals, artificial flavorings and sugar.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina “The Veggie Goddess” Matthews