A Brief Guide to Gluten-Free Alcoholic Drinks
Having to eat and drink a gluten-free diet can be difficult but it's not impossible. For someone with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance or wheat allergy, wine is a safe choice. However, wine isn't for everyone. Fortunately there are dozens of beers, ciders, seltzers, and hard alcohols that are also completely safe to drink if you're avoiding gluten. Bars and restaurants are beginning to embrace the gluten-free movement, making it easier to enjoy a drink on social occasions, and most stores have at least a few ciders to choose from.
The vast majority of beers contain gluten but there are several craft beers, plus a few produced by major breweries for wide distribution, that are made without wheat and barley. Blends of sorghum, rice, and other gluten-free grains are brewed to produce flavors that are as good, or better, than some of their gluten counterparts. And hops are gluten-free, so their popular flavor doesn't have to be missed.
In its purest form, cider is made from apples. Most ciders are gluten-free but it's important to check the label. Ciders with malt are not safe and sometimes artificial flavors contain gluten as well. Ciders range from dry, beer-like flavors to intensely sweet so it's good to try a wide variety to find what you like.
Hard Seltzer and Soda
These trendy, effervescent drinks come in many gluten-free varieties. But always look out for malt. Malt usually means gluten, so check the ingredients and look for a gluten-free notation on the label before taking a sip. For the most part, though a light, refreshing hard seltzer is a safe drink.
Most hard alcohols are considered gluten-free because the distilling process removes gluten. However, if you are wary or extra sensitive, avoid whiskeys, scotches, and bourbons made from rye and barley. Instead, turn to vodka, tequila, rum, and gin. Look for distilled spirits made from potatoes, sugarcane, and other gluten-free ingredients without wheat or other gluten grains added. Additives in some liquors, like caramel color, may contain gluten as well, so check labels.
A gluten-free drinker has so many options, they will never be thirsty at the bar or at a party. Crack open a beer or mix a cocktail and enjoy!