Living gluten-free is a necessary lifestyle choice for people with celiac disease. Just because you’re eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t socialize, go to bars, or drink alcohol. In fact, with proper research and precautions, you have a lot of options to choose from.
Gluten-free cocktails include margaritas, mojitos, and cosmopolitans that use alcohols like cider, vodka, gin, rum, and tequila. Talk to the bartender about your needs to be safe. Preparatory measures like washing out shakers, or asking for stirred drinks only, can help you be responsible in social settings.
Read on to learn more about safe ingredients for gluten-free cocktails, the steps you can take in bars or social settings, and gluten-free recipes to follow at home.
How To Make Gluten-Free Alcohol Choices
If you have a low tolerance to gluten, there are several big and small steps you can take to stay safe.
What To Look For
Differences in recipes, especially for cocktails, need to be accounted for when you’re making your decisions. However, certain mixed drinks are generally safe to drink. These include cosmopolitans, daiquiris, mojitos, margaritas, and Moscow mules.
Overall, gluten-free alcohol options include hard ciders, vodka, and gin that comes from potatoes, rum, and most tequilas.
What To Avoid
To start, you should avoid drinking anything on tap. You can’t be sure what ingredients are being used, and, more often than not, the alcohol options on tap won’t be gluten-free. It is also good practice to generally avoid beer unless it is a special gluten-free blend.
Similarly, approach gluten-removed or reduced beers with extreme caution. There is no independent testing to confirm that these drinks are safe.
Other malt beverages like ale, porter, stout, sake, and rice wine are made from barley malt and are not gluten-free. Similarly, flavored hard cider, hard lemonade, or wine coolers can also use malt or wheat protein.
What To Communicate To Your Bartender
Make sure you tell your bartender you’re gluten-free and ask them which drinks they recommend. If you’ve communicated your needs to the bartender and they’re unsure about a drink, then it’s best to just avoid it.
Additional Safety Measures
Overall, it is easier to ensure your drinks are safe at home than at a bar. The biggest concern is the sharing of appliances and dishes. So if you’re gluten-free, you don’t just need to use safe alcohol options.
You also need to ensure the bartender has properly washed out their cocktail shakers thoroughly. The same rule applies to the glass you’re drinking from. It needs to be properly washed and not just rinsed out.
Gluten-Free Cocktails To Order At A Bar
There are a few staples that you can almost always rely on to be gluten-free
Cosmopolitans are made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and citrus peels all of which are gluten-free ingredients. Even though vodka comes from wheat, barley, and rye the distillation process makes it safe for celiacs to drink. However, flavored vodkas with gluten added post distillation are not safe or healthy.
Regular daiquiris are made with white rum, lime juice, and sugar syrup that are all gluten-free. Rum is obtained by processing sugarcane molasses and juice. However, additional flavorings, spices, and additives can make them unsafe, so make sure you look into the specific brands and products.
White rum is the main ingredient in mojitos so they’re almost always safe.
Margaritas are both gluten-free and vegan-friendly. The tequila comes from processing the agave plant which makes it completely safe to use. Even if it is a mix and has added sugars, it is still approved for consumption by people suffering from celiac disease.
Vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice are the main ingredients in the Moscow mule. As long as you’re certain that the vodka is from a gluten-free, reputable brand, this drink is completely safe for you.
Tequila, ginger beer, lime juice, and Cointreau make up Mexican mule, a drink that is gluten-free and safe for celiacs to have.
What Makes Alcohols Safe
An important thing to note about safe alcohol for celiacs is that drinks distilled from wheat, barley, and rye plants can still be gluten-free. Vodka, for example, comes from rye. However, the process of combining them with water and heating the pulpy mixture to promote fermentation changes the sugars into alcohol.
Next, the alcohol is distilled. At this stage, the gluten protein is removed from the mixture. Most people will not react to vodka that has been properly distilled. However, some people with gluten sensitivity might react negatively to alcohols obtained from gluten grains. However, other types of vodka also come from potatoes or corn. These may be better, safer options.
The 5 Best Gluten-Free Recipes
Making your cocktails at home is the safest way to consume alcohol for celiacs. That way you know exactly what ingredients you’re using and where they’re coming from.
Cranberry Ginger Cocktail
A fun and tangy drink, this cranberry ginger cocktail serves 4 and takes less than 10 minutes to make.
- Lime for garnish
- Sugar for rim garnish
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup frozen cranberries
- Diced ginger to taste
- 3 oz vodka
- 4 oz club soda
How to make:
- Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat it over a stove
- Once the sugar syrup reaches room temperature, add the cranberries and ginger
- Let it simmer until the berries dissolve and run the mixture through a sieve
- Cool the cranberry mix and keep it in the fridge
- When you’re ready to make your cocktail, add vodka and club soda
- Run the lime wedge across the rim and dip it into the sugar
- Pour your cocktail into glasses and serve
A light and refreshing cocktail, this white sangria serves 4 and takes only 15 minutes to make.
- 2 green apples
- 1 cup frozen cranberries
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup white grape juice
- 1 bottle of white wine
- 1 bottle sparkling water
- Rosemary for garnish
How to make:
- Cut up the apples and cranberries
- Add the sugar, grape juice, and wine into the mix
- Sprinkle the rosemary with water and roll it in sugar
- Stir the mixture before serving
- Add some sparkling water to combine the ingredients, if necessary
- Pour into glasses and garnish with the rosemary
Guava Coconut Rum Cocktail
With a sweet and tropical taste, the Guava Coconut Rum Cocktail is a wonderfully refreshing summer drink.
- 2 oz coconut rum
- 2 oz guava nectar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 3 dashes of bitters
- 2 tsp simple syrup
- 2 oz coconut water
How to make:
- Mix the coconut rum, guava nectar, lemon juice, bitters, and simple syrup
- Wait till you see condensation on the surface of the glass
- Strain the mix into your cocktail glass
- Add ice to your drink and top it off with some coconut water
Cinnamon Apple Cider Mimosa
For the perfect fall cocktail, you’ll want to try this cinnamon apple cider mimosa. This serves 8 and is incredibly easy to make.
- 1 bottle of champagne
- 32 oz apple cider
- ¼ cup cinnamon whiskey
- Rosemary springs
- Cinnamon sticks
How to make:
- Infuse the apple cider with the rosemary and cinnamon
- Let it rest for 12 to 24 hours
- Mix the cinnamon whiskey, champagne, and apple cider
- Pour it into glasses and garnish with apple slices and rosemary sprigs
Paloma Cocktails Twist
A light, gluten-free, grapefruit-flavored cocktail to give you that perfect balance of sweet and bitter.
- 2 oz tequila
- ½ tbsp lime juice
- ½ to 1 tbsp agave
- 4 oz grapefruit soda
How to make:
- Run the lime wedge along the rim of your glass and coat it with salt
- Mix the tequila, agave, and grapefruit juice.
- Add agave to taste based on your required sweetness.
- Add a few ice cubes to your glass and pour your cocktails.
- Finish it off with a lime wedge, mint, or bitters.
Is Non-Alcoholic Beer Gluten-Free?
Despite popular marketing, non-alcoholic beer is rarely gluten-free. Beer, regardless of the level of alcohol it contains, comes from malted barley and is a risky choice. Alternatively, beer processed from corn, rice, quinoa, or sorghum is gluten-free and safe for celiacs. Some brewers add enzymes at the fermentation stage to break down the gluten which works equally well.
Are Espresso Martinis Gluten-Free?
Espresso martinis are gluten-free. They are made using vodka or gin, vermouth, and espresso. Some basic recipes use only coffee liquor and vodka. You can also choose to top your espresso martini with a layer of whipped cream for added flavor. All of these ingredients do not contain gluten in any form and are completely safe for celiacs.