How well do you know your gluten-free drinks? An alcohol guide to help you celebrate gluten-free

Contributor: Sarah Friggieri from Gluten Free Foodie

 

Getting glutened is a particularly common concern through summer; the warmer weather invites us to spend time out and about, catching up with friends over a five-star dinner or partying the night away to forget our temporary troubles (always drink responsibly!). So it brings me great happiness when one of the first questions I get asked from curious souls who are new to the gluten-free world is ‘What am I allowed to drink?’.

The good news is that there’s a whole range of alcoholic beverages we can drink, but there are some clear ones to steer away from – and, since it’s not mandatory for ingredients to be listed on alcoholic products, I’m about to give you clear advice you’ll be able to remember.

On the no-no list

My golden rule is unless you’re making them yourself and can check the ingredient list, avoid cocktails like the plague. While some of the fruity ones are made with actual fruit, others are made with syrups that contain wheat – and it’s just not worth taking the risk.

And, of course, never, ever, ever quench your thirst with a beer that isn’t labelled ‘gluten-free’. There are a couple of good ones out there, but the ones that best curb my light-beer cravings are Hahn Ultra Crisp (which is becoming more of a regular at pubs and bars) and Two Bays Brewing Co. Pale Ale (by an Aussie-based company that has a taproom in Victoria).

Eat, drink and be merry!

Everything else is pretty much fair game. I’m talking scotch, whiskey, tequila, gin, wine (except if you’re also lactose-intolerant or vegan – milk is often used as a fining agent), vodka, cider, port, sherry…

But aren’t scotch and whiskey made from barley?

Yes – and barley is one of the ingredients we can’t have. You’re right to always remember the BROW acronym (barley, rye, oats, wheat) – but not in this case. When performed correctly (which most mainstream brands do), the distilling process removes the gluten protein, making it safe for us to drink. Please note – and I can’t stress this enough: this is the only time you should believe anyone when they say the preparation process eliminates gluten.

I was once told deep-frying food “gets rid of the gluten”. This is absolutely incorrect.

My secret weapon

Nonetheless, whenever I go out to eat or drink, I always pop a GluteGuard tablet, because no matter how many times we confirm something is gluten-free, or how clear we make it that we can’t have gluten, there’s always a high risk of cross-contamination whenever we aren’t preparing food and drinks for ourselves.

So Merry Christmas, everyone – I hope this information helps get you safely through the silly season!