What alcoholic mixed drinks are gluten-free?

Quick Answers

Many popular alcoholic mixed drinks are naturally gluten-free, including basic cocktails made with gluten-free spirits and other gluten-free ingredients. Vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and most liquors are gluten-free. Mixers like soda, juice, and tonic water are also gluten-free. Classic drinks like margaritas, mojitos, martinis, and daiquiris are gluten-free as long as no gluten-containing ingredients are added. However, some mixed drinks contain gluten from beer, wheat-based spirits, or flavorings. It’s important to check the ingredients when ordering cocktails at a bar.

What Makes a Drink Gluten-Free?

For a mixed drink to be gluten-free, it must not contain any gluten-containing ingredients. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity should avoid gluten as it can cause digestive issues and other symptoms.

Many distilled spirits are naturally gluten-free, even if they are made from gluten-containing grains. The distillation process removes the gluten protein from the alcohol. These gluten-free spirits include:

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Rum
  • Tequila
  • Whiskey
  • Brandy

Undistilled fermented alcoholic beverages will contain gluten if they are made from glutenous grains. These include:

  • Beer
  • Malt beverages
  • Wheat-based liquors like bourbon

Other gluten-free mixers and ingredients commonly used in mixed drinks include:

  • Sodas and sparkling waters
  • Fruit juices
  • Naturally gluten-free syrups like simple syrup or cherry syrup
  • Bitters
  • Tonic water
  • Club soda
  • Cream
  • Purees made from gluten-free fruits/vegetables
  • Honey
  • Mint
  • Herbs like basil or rosemary
  • Spices like cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Sugar

The key is to evaluate each ingredient in a mixed drink recipe to ensure none of them contain gluten. Beware of added flavors in syrups and liqueurs, as these can sometimes contain gluten. When in doubt, check with the manufacturer or use a gluten-free brand.

Gluten-Free Spirits

Here are some of the most common gluten-free spirits and liquors that can be enjoyed in gluten-free cocktails:


Vodka is a distilled spirit made most commonly from fermented grains or potatoes. No matter the starch source, vodka does not contain gluten due to the distillation process. Plain vodka is always gluten-free, but beware of flavored vodkas as they may contain added gluten. Stick to reputable gluten-free brands or infuse your own flavors at home.


Like vodka, the distillation process removes gluten proteins from the base grains used to make most gins. Look for gins labelled as gluten-free or from trusted brands. Avoid gins with added flavors or grains after distillation, which could introduce gluten.


Traditional rum is distilled from sugar cane or molasses, so it does not contain gluten. Spiced rums may have added flavors, so check labels carefully. Premium “sipping rums” are more likely to have added flavors or ingredients.


Tequila is distilled from the blue agave plant, so it is also naturally gluten-free. Be cautious of flavored tequilas with added sugar syrups or spices that could potentially contain gluten.


Whiskey is distilled from a glutenous grain like rye, wheat, corn or barley. But the gluten is removed during the distillation, so plain whiskey is gluten-free. Watch for added flavors or grains in blended whiskies, which may not be gluten-free.


Brandy is made by distilling wine, so it is gluten-free. Brandy is sometimes aged in oak barrels that previously contained whiskey or bourbon and this does not affect the gluten content.

Potential Sources of Gluten

Aside from obvious sources like beer, wheat liquors, and barley-based alcohols, there are a few other potential sources of gluten to watch out for in mixed drinks:

Flavored Liqueurs

Flavored liqueurs like coffee liqueur, orange liqueur, or cherry brandy introduce flavor using extracts, oils, added sugars or cream/dairy ingredients. These added ingredients could potentially contain gluten. Purchase liqueurs from trusted gluten-free brands or contact the manufacturer if uncertain.

Flavored Syrups

Many coffee shops and bars use flavored syrups to add flavor to drinks. These syrups are concentrated with sugars, flavors, colors and preservatives. Gluten grains could lurk in the flavorings. Request drinks made with fresh ingredients instead of syrups to be safe.

Thickeners in Cream Liqueurs

Creamy liqueurs like Irish cream may contain thickening agents to provide a silky texture. If the thickener is something like wheat flour or maltodextrin, it could contain gluten. Opt for gluten-free cream liqueurs or real dairy cream instead.

Malt Beers & Lagers

Obviously beers made from glutenous grains like barley, rye or wheat will contain gluten. Malt beverages, cider beers, some radlers, and gluten-free beers with barley malt are not gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Mixed Drink Recipes

Below are some recipes for popular gluten-free mixed drinks that can be ordered at most bars or easily created at home:

Gluten-Free Mojito

  • 2 oz white rum
  • 3 lime wedges
  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • Soda water

Muddle lime wedges, mint and sugar in a glass. Add ice and rum. Top with soda water. Garnish with mint.

Gluten-Free Cosmopolitan

  • 1 1/2 oz citrus vodka
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz cranberry juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice

Shake over ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with orange twist.

Gluten-Free Margarita

  • 1 1/2 oz tequila
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • Lime wedge for rim
  • Salt for rim (optional)

Rub lime wedge around rim of glass then roll rim in salt. Fill glass with ice. Add tequila, triple sec and lime juice. Stir gently and garnish with lime wedge.

Gluten-Free Moscow Mule

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 4-6 oz ginger beer
  • Lime wedge garnish

Fill copper mug or glass with ice. Add vodka and lime juice. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish with lime.

Gluten-Free Long Island Iced Tea

  • 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz white rum
  • 1/2 oz silver tequila
  • 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar syrup
  • Cola
  • Lime wedge

Fill glass with ice. Add vodka, rum, tequila, gin, triple sec, lime juice and sugar syrup. Top with cola. Garnish with lime wedge.

Gluten-Free Options at Bars & Restaurants

Dining out with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity may seem daunting, but there are ways to navigate bar menus safely:

  • Stick to basic spirits like vodka, rum, tequila, and gin.
  • Ask if drink mixes or syrups contain gluten.
  • Request real fruit and juice over pre-packaged mixes.
  • Inspect garnish ingredients like rimming salts.
  • Avoid wheatgrass and malt beverages.
  • Check labels on bottled beverages like hard seltzers.
  • Notify staff of gluten intolerance when ordering.

Some gluten-free-friendly cocktails to order include:

  • Moscow mule
  • Margarita on the rocks
  • Mojito
  • Bloody Mary or virgin version
  • Martini
  • Whiskey on the rocks
  • Paloma

Gluten-Free Mixers & Garnishes

Having the right gluten-free mixers and garnishes on hand makes whipping up gluten-free cocktails easy. Here are some gluten-free mixers and garnishes to stock your home bar:


  • Sodas: cola, ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, tonic water
  • Pure fruit juices: orange, cranberry, pineapple, grapefruit
  • Tomato or veggie juice
  • Coconut water
  • Iced tea
  • Sparkling water


  • Limes
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Olives
  • Cherries
  • Pineapple wedges or chunks
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh basil
  • Cucumber slices

Syrups & Sweeteners:

  • Honey simple syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Agave nectar
  • Sugar

Tips for Gluten-Free Mixology at Home

With the right tools and techniques, you can easily mix up gluten-free cocktails at home:

  • Stock your bar with gluten-free spirits, liquors, and mixers.
  • Use fresh fruit and herbs for garnishes and infusions.
  • Make your own simple syrups from sugar and water or honey.
  • Juice fresh fruits and vegetables for homemade mixers.
  • Try infusing vodka or tequila with fruits, herbs or spices.
  • Rim glasses with salt, sugar, dried fruits or crushed nuts.
  • Opt for whole fruits and perishable mixers over syrups or bottled mixes.
  • Check ingredient labels carefully for potential hidden gluten.
  • Use sealed packaged garnishes rather than bar garnishes with cross-contact.

With so many naturally gluten-free spirits, juices, herbs and spices to work with, the possibilities for gluten-free mixes are endless. Get creative mixing cocktails at home!

Common Questions

Is wine gluten-free?

Most wines are gluten-free, including red, white, rosé, sparkling and dessert wines. They are made from grapes, not grains. However, some wine coolers and flavored wines may contain added ingredients or flavors that introduce gluten. As long as a wine is made purely from grapes, it can be considered gluten-free.

Are hard seltzers gluten-free?

Plain hard seltzers made from water, alcohol and carbonation are gluten-free. Flavored versions should be checked for gluten-containing ingredients. Malt beverages like hard root beer would not be gluten-free.

Can I use glutenous alcohol like beer or bourbon in cooking?

No, you should not use beer, bourbon, malt vinegar or other gluten-containing forms of alcohol in your cooking if you are gluten-free. The gluten protein can remain present even if cooked.

I react to distilled liquors like vodka. Does that mean they contain gluten?

No, distilled spirits that are gluten-free ingredients should not actually contain gluten proteins. However, you may react to other compounds or histamines in the alcohol itself. Some people are sensitive to drinks like vodka and gin even though they are made from gluten-free grains.

The Bottom Line

There are endless options for delicious gluten-free cocktails made from naturally gluten-free distilled spirits, fresh fruits and juices, herbs, spices and other wholesome ingredients. Vodka, gin, rum, tequila and other distilled liquors can be enjoyed freely in mixed drinks. Always check labeling on flavored alcohols, beer, malt beverages and liqueurs, which may contain sources of gluten. With proper knowledge and understanding of what to look out for, you can confidently mix and enjoy gluten-free cocktails.

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