It's no secret that New Orleans is one of the greatest cities in the world when it comes to a lot of things-especially eating and drinking. This can, unfortunately, not really be the case for people suffering from Celiac disease or those who are gluten intolerant. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye-you guessed it-is heavily present in beer. With lagers, IPAs, and stouts out of the question, that leaves the cocktail. But the other thing about gluten is that it can be hidden in flavorings or just dumped straight into mixes (Zing Zang is a prime example of this type of offender). With the typical Bloody Mary out of consideration, what are the best gluten-free alcoholic beverages in the New Orleans metro area?
Starting in Old Metairie, you'll find a couple of gorgeous selections in a new stretch of cool craft cocktail choices:
The Ultra Violet: Created by Anthony Vitrano, this drink is made up of Tito's Vodka, Lychee syrup, lemon juice, and Butterfly Pea Flower tea. It's a gorgeous purple-blue color and is garnished with a lemon. You'll find it at Brasa Churrasqueria on Metairie Road.
Although I don't have a specific recommendation, there are a ton of really nice gluten-free craft cocktails at Martine's Lounge. Ask the bartender and feel free to use the cheat sheet provided if you need
any base liquor advice.
Heading across town to Mid-City, we find the following options:
Broad Street Cider (and Mead) Cocktail: I recently wrote an article about Broad Street Cider and Mead, the safe haven for gluten intolerants with ciders and meads comprising nearly 100 percent of their menu, but they also have some pretty delicious cocktail combinations of ciders and spirits from their next-door neighbor Roulaison Rum.
The Shrub: It's not on the menu, but recently I had a "shrub" at Bayou Wine Garden, which had me simultaneously asking questions and quoting Monty Python & the Holy Grail. Apparently, a shrub is a mixture of natural fruit juices, aromatics, sugar, and vinegar. Because malt vinegar can be lethal to celiacs, I confirmed that BWG uses apple cider vinegar. The mixture is then added to soda water and sprite for a mocktail, or soda water and your choice of liquor for a nice cocktail. Try it with Tito's to be Celiac safe. The version I had was infused with apple and rosemary and was absolutely delicious.
If you're downtown, you'll probably want to party without any restrictions-but the less time spent throwing up could be more time dancing it up. Try these:
"One in a Melon": Effervescence on N. Rampart offers the "One in a Melon," a pretty little drink that contains St. Roch Vodka, Watermelon, Lillet Rose, basil, lime, and Follador Brut Nature Prosecco.
The Batucada: If you're in the Warehouse District, be sure to check out this favorite submitted by Abby LeVere. It's served up at Carmo, and it's made from Batida of Cachaca rum, fresh passion fruit juice, and coconut milk. LeVere says, "If you haven't tried it,
go get it."
Lula Distillery is also a favorite among various New Orleans celiacs, as they offer almost an entire menu full of safe options, along with great choices for brunch drinking.
If you're in the Quarter, it's sometimes best to not order from the menu but, instead, to request your own mixed drink with your favorite mixer and base alcohol. In general, if you're unsure about what is gluten-free, be sure to avoid the following:
Anything produced with beer or on beer equipment (think shared taps or glassware)
Anything containing malt flavoring
Vodkas that have flavors added after the distillation process
Mixes that contain a lot of ingredients or ingredients you cannot pronounce
Mystery drinks where bartenders won't tell you what they're made of
Anything with the words "gluten removed." This might be great for a regular person, but it would be the equivalent of putting ketchup on a burger and then wiping it off for someone allergic to tomatoes.
Tito's (Tito's goes through incredible lengths to be gluten-free so it's everyone's #1 choice), Ciroc Plain, Stoli Gluten-Free, Smirnoff, Smirnoff Sourced,
and Deep Eddy.
Appleton Estate, Captain Morgan, Bayou Rum, Cruzan, Malibu, Mount Gay, Meyer's Rum, and Roulaison.
Don Julio, 1519, 1800, El Jimador, Herradura, Hornitos, Jose Cuervo, Patrón, and Sauza.
Queen Jennie and
Gold Spur Corn Whiskey.
Cold River Gin.
Brandy, Campari, Champagne,
Cognac, Cointreau, Jagermeister, Midori, Prosecco, Kahlua, Sambuca, Vermouth,
Coco Lopez, Ouzo, Jose Cuervo, and T.G.I. Friday's mixes.
It's important to note that while
most types of gin/vodka are thought to be okay, some celiacs do, in fact, react to them, mostly because of cross-contamination and processing issues, so when in doubt, leave it out. The same thing goes for Ketel One, Skyy, and Stolichnaya in the vodka world.
Most wines are also safe, but many
people have a reactions, so you have
to do your own research on that.
Anything not listed, as well as specifically:
Stoli Regular/Stoli Premium,
and Smirnoff Ice.
Any malt beverages / wine coolers
Most Bloody Mary Mixes.