The final days of 2011 are here and I'm thinking many of us are planning on having a few adult beverages to mark the occasion. I also was thinking of making some special cocktails to enjoy with friends, inspired by my favorite show, Mad Men and the list of old-time drinks here.
But, here are some questions I have to consider: What kinds of grains are used to produce alcohol and what does that mean for adults who are gluten-free?
Here is what I found out:
- Most distilled alcohols don't bother most people with celiac. They are reported on celiac.com to be gluten-free. Ferndale's Valentine Vodka is made with locally grown Red Michigan wheat, barley and corn, so enjoy at your own risk. But, because it is distilled, it should be enjoyable by those with gluten sensitivity! For those with high sensitivities, an alternative, such as Tito's Vodka made in Texas, may be sought. There is just one place to buy the brand in Michigan, NWS Michigan, Inc. in Brownstown. However, Zodiac vodka is widely available and is made of potatoes. Vermouth is made of grapes for martini drinkers.
- Generally, wine and champagne are gluten-free. Some report that wine produced in barrels outside the U.S. may come into contact with flour, but it is generally safe. Wine coolers are not gluten-free.
- Scotch whiskey is reported to be gluten-free, which was interesting to me since this is an alcohol made of barley! But, several associations report that when the alcohol is distilled, gluten in the barley is removed. Maker's Mark is a gluten-free bourbon.
- Some cheaper tequilas are not gluten-free, although they are made of agave. Check with the manufacturer to be sure. Cuervo products and margarita mixes are gluten-free.
So, enjoy a cocktail responsibly. I would recommend Torino Espresso + Bar's New Year's Eve event in Ferndale if you will be in the area. The mixologist there makes some interesting drinks that would be perfect for welcoming the new year.
Or, here's a recipe for an at-home New Year's Eve toast:
- 1 part vodka
- 1 part club soda
- Splash of cranberry juice
- Cranberries or lime wedge for garnish
Mix vodka and soda over ice and pour into glass. Add a splash of cranberry juice and garnish with cranberries.
And then there's beer
All around us, establishments are stocking up on gluten-free options. It is amazing to me how easy it was to find places with gluten-free beer on the menu – and how much people want to buy it up!
Check out some suggestions here:
- At 8 Degrees Plato Beer Company in Ferndale, check out the variety of gluten-free beers and select a few for gifts or for your holiday party! Owned by husband and wife team Tim Costello and Brigid Beaubien, the outlet lets beer lovers rejoice. Four gluten-free beers are offered, Brigid Beaubien remarked in a recent column: New Grist, Bard's, St Peter's and Green's. "Both the New Grist and the Bard's are available in 6-packs or singles, warm or cold," she said. "The St Peter's is from England and the Green's is a Triple Blonde Ale from Belgium." Sounds like the real deal!
- The Emory in Ferndale is one such place where those who want to meet up with a gluten-free friend — or who are gluten-free themselves — can be served a cold one. The Emory offers "a gluten-free craft beer made in Milwaukee by Lakefront Brewery called New Grist. It is made from sorghum and rice extract and apparently is pretty tasty," General Manager Emily Husband said. The Emory also offers two English ciders, Strongbow and Samuel Smith, that are gluten-free. "We try to be very aware of special diets and allergies and accommodate people as best we can, listing anything pertinent on the menu," Husband said.
- The Berkley Front, which boasts 43 beers on tap, also serves gluten-free Bard's Tale in the bottle for $3.50. Bard's Tale is a craft beer made of sorghum, yeast, hops and water. Founders Craig Belser and Kevin Sepowitz developed Bard's after feeling the burden of giving up one of their favorite pastimes, sitting down with some friends and drinking a beer. "This was a cruel injustice and we just couldn't abide," according to the Bard's Tale website.
- The Tavern on the Main is a great sports bar in the heart of Clawson's downtown, perfect for meeting with friends outside on the patio or inside in front of the game. The staff is warm and friendly and, oh yeah, it also offers Bard's Tale gluten-free beer and nonalcoholic varieties.
- To pick up a six-pack for a holiday get-together, check out Hiller's or Mug & Jug in Berkley; Rainbow Liquor, Ferndale Foods or Western Market in Ferndale; Palace Liquor in Clawson; Red Wagon Shoppe in Troy; or Holiday Market in Royal Oak for a slew of gluten-free brewskies. Plum Markets and Whole Foods also carry a variety of beers.
When celebrating, please remember to drink responsibly and arrange for a ride if you're celebrating outside your home.