Dietary Drinking Habits: Turn that paleo frown upside down with gluten-free vegan cocktails

By on December 20, 2017


By Greta Corona

Hosting dinner for the holidays can be a lot of work and stress. Catering dinner can mean catering to the vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and paleo diet(s).  While I can’t help you turn extra firm tofu into a holiday ham, I can help you turn paleo frowns upside down during cocktail hour.

To appeal to the above dietary restrictions,
happy hour needs to be void of gluten, added sugar, animal products, soy and processed foods. The best practice in coming up with a cocktail menu that appeals to everyone is to keep it simple.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, stilled liquor, wine and hard cider are gluten-free, since the distillation process removes the gluten protein.

Vodka, gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, scotch and brandy are all diet friendly, which is great if you have guests who are watching their waistlines. Avoid mixers with added sugar and do a little research. Soda water, 100 percent juice, fresh fruit and herbs are great mixers.

For sweetness, steer clear of honey. Honey is derived from an animal and is – you guessed it – not vegan. Use a splash of orange juice, coconut sugar or coconut nectar instead of refined sugar. Syrups are another easy way to add depth to any cocktail.

Following the ginger syrup recipe below, you can substitute the ginger for any herb, spice, or edible flower. Wine and champagne are generally a safe bet, but can be made with animal proteins to maintain clarity. Due to dietary restrictions, a lot of wineries are making wine using cruelty-free methods. A quick search on the wine makers website or a simple phone call can help clear those questions up.

This holiday season I chose two of my favorite winter warmer liquors to highlight for the holiday season. Eagle Rare is a ten-plus barrel aged Kentucky bourbon with naturally occurring flavors of honey and orange.

Grand Marnier is a French cognac and orange liqueur with hints of vanilla and orange peel. For the Ginger Spritzer, I chose Mont Marcal Cava Brut for the flavor, price and the fact that it is vegan.

Cava is a sparkling Spanish wine made in the same style as champagne. I found the liquor and ingredients at The Liquor Store of Jackson Hole (TLS) and Lucky’s Market.

Here are some diet-friendly, picky-drinker friendly recipes to help you – and your particular friends – through the holidays.

Mulled Cider

2 quarts fresh apple cider

1 T crushed pink peppercorns

8 whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

3 each star anise

1 whole nutmeg ground

1 orange thinly sliced

½ cup coconut nectar

1 cup Eagle Rare Bourbon

½ cup Grand Marnier

Cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange peel to garnish

Put spices in cheesecloth and tie with cooking twine into a satchel. Put cider, satchel and orange in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Do not let boil. Remove spice satchel. Add bourbon and ginger liqueur and bring to a simmer and serve. Garnish with cinnamon stick, star anise and orange peel. For a little more kick double the amount of bourbon.


Ginger Syrup

1 cup coconut sugar

1 cup water

¾ cup peeled, chopped ginger

In a sauce pan bring water to a simmer. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add ginger and remove from heat and let steep for thirty minutes. Strain ginger and refrigerate.


Ginger Spritzer

½ oz. Grand Marnier

1 oz. fresh apple cider

½ oz. ginger syrup

2 dashes Angostura orange bitters

3 oz. Mont Marcal Cava Brut

Orange peel for garnish

Rub the outside of a champagne flute with orange peel garnish. Put ingredients in champagne flute and stir gently. Serve with orange peel garnish. For a less sweet and more traditional champagne cocktail skip the apple cider. I prefer the version without apple cider. My tasting panel preferred the listed recipe.


Ginger Old Fashioned

2 oz. Eagle Rare Bourbon

¼ oz. ginger syrup

4 dashes Angostura orange bitters

Orange peel for garnish

Fill a pint glass 2/3 with ice. Add all ingredients. Rub the outside of a rocks glass with orange peel garnish and fill with ice. Stir ingredients in pint glass for thirty seconds. Strain into rocks glass and garnish with an orange peel.

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