Health-Conscious Holiday Drinks
Updated January 1, 2017
For those with intolerance or preference to avoid dairy, gluten, or sugar, the holidays may present an ongoing threat of discomfort or FOMO. Let’s change that.
Wine, Beer & Cider
Although there aren’t many 'holiday varietals,' a nice glass of wine is a nice winter treat, especially beside a cozy fireplace. Wine is a low sugar option, and regardless of color, dry wines tend to have the lowest sugar content. Pinot noir, cabernet, merlot, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio all average less than 1 gram of sugar per serving. Wine is also inherently gluten free. However, wine may not be vegan due to potential contamination in the winemaking process. To search for vegan wines use this list from Barnivore.
Winter/holiday ales tend to be full bodied, strong and spiced. Any style can be released as a seasonal holiday brew, so check your favorite brand to see what’s on tap this holiday season. Need inspiration? Start with 8 Maids-a-Milking (The Bruery), Celebration Ale (Sierra Nevada), God Jul (Nøgne ø), or Bush de Noël (Brasserie Dubuisson). Sour beers and lambics are also a nice pairing for all those sweet nibblies Aunt Martha brought over - try adding syrup to create your own flavor combo. Stouts are 'in season' and can be lightened up with dry champagne to make a Black Velvet (typically Guinness + champagne).
Many holiday ales, especially stouts, are lacto-fermented, which means those with dairy intolerance or allergies should be careful not to have beers such as milk stouts that will cause stomach trouble. For the gluten-free crowd, beer isn’t entirely off limits. The entire brewing operation at Ghostfish Brewery is gluten-free and they are continually adding fun new brews - enjoy in the Seattle area or order online. Dogfish Head’s Tweason'ale is also a gluten-free option made with buckwheat honey and has strawberry notes.
Most ciders are naturally gluten and lactose-free unless they are brewed in a contaminated environment or contain additives. Both DeMunck's Belgian Holiday hard cider and New Planet Raspberry ale are gluten and dairy free and have been well reviewed.
Holiday coffee drinks are in season, and National Egg Nog Day is approaching. The Sumatra Coconut Milk at Starbucks is prepared in a specific non-dairy pitcher separate from the soy milk, or dairy milk pitchers, but the chain doesn’t guarantee an allergen-free environment because cross contamination could occur in its stores’ open environment. If you don’t want to roll the dice, grab or make a plain coffee drink and add your own dairy-free milk or creamer. For reference, go dairy free has a handy guide about dairy-free drinks as well as holiday drink recipes.
Dream brand’s rice, coconut, almond, and cashew beverages come in chocolate and vanilla flavors (as well as a caramel latte).
Poppy milk is a traditional (non-dairy) Lithuanian holiday beverage made from poppy seeds.
Low Sugar Drinks
Cutting sugar from your holidays could be as simple as adding fresh fruit or herbs to your water instead of drinking sodas, punches and nogs. Take your game up a notch with an infusion pitcher or frozen herb dispenser. If making your own isn't an option, Hint Water is a sugarless option:
Jordan’s Skinny Mixes are sugar free, dairy-free, gluten-free, kosher mixers for cocktails and mocktails. Holiday flavors include Candy Apple Martini, Mistletoe Martini and White Chocolate Peppermintini.
Nibmor 6 Spice Drinking Chocolate is gluten-free, organic, vegan, non-dairy, non-GMO, Fair Trade Certified, and kosher.
Thirsty for more? Follow our holiday cocktail board on Pinterest: