Gluten-Free Cocktails for Cozy Winter Nights
The holidays offer many opportunities for fun and good cheer. Now’s the time to enjoy and serve festive beverages that celebrate the season and bring in the New Year. Impromptu get-togethers can pop up, so be prepared for unexpected guests with special drinks at the ready!
You can create fancy libations in no time flat with Simple Syrup. This liquid sweetener is called simple for a reason—it’s simple! If you can boil water, you can make a simple syrup. Prepare it ahead and keep it in your refrigerator to add a festive splash to holiday cocktail recipes.
Some of these gluten-free cocktail recipes feature surprising ingredients, like vegetable bouillon and Dijon mustard, to offer a savory spin on liquid refreshments. Others call for cherry juice or salted caramel for those who prefer a sweeter sip.
Gather ingredients for mulling spices and mix up a batch of sachets to last the whole season. These aromatic bundles are the basis of two classic beverages—Hot Mulled Cider and Hot Toddies. They also make delightful hostess gifts.
Prepare Winter White Sangria before your next dinner party—it tastes even better the day after it’s made. And homemade Limoncello—assembled in the fall and left to infuse until December—makes an incredibly delicious seasonal libation and an impressive holiday gift.
Remember, distilled alcohols are gluten-free, so enjoy the party!
- 1 lime , cut into quarters
- Sugar , for rims
- 4 ounces Cranberry Ginger Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
- 3 ounces vodka
- 4 ounces club soda , more to taste
Wet the rims of 4 glasses by running a cut lime wedge around the rims. Pour sugar into a flat-bottomed bowl and dip the rims into the sugar.
Prepare cocktail by mixing Cranberry Ginger Simple Syrup, vodka and club soda. Pour into sugared glasses and serve.
TIP: For a festive touch, shake the sugar in a plastic bag with a few drops of red food coloring.
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Once mixture boils, reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once syrup is completely cooled, pour it into a sealable glass jar or bottle and refrigerate until used.
- 1 cup prepared Simple Syrup (recipe above)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- ½ tablespoon diced fresh ginger root or candied ginger
Pour prepared Simple Syrup into a small saucepan. Add cranberries and ginger and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Pour mixture through a sieve into a bowl to separate out cooked berries and ginger. Once cooled, pour strained syrup into a sealable glass jar or bottle and refrigerate until serving.
- 2 green apples , diced (such as Granny Smith)
- 1 cup frozen cranberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- ½ cup white grape juice
- 1 (750ml) bottle white wine (such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Gruner)
- 1 (16-ounce) bottle sparkling water
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary , for garnish
- Granulated sugar , for garnish
Toss apples and cranberries into a large pitcher. Add sugar, grape juice and wine, stirring to combine. Cover and refrigerate.
Dip rosemary sprigs in water and roll wet sprigs in granulated sugar.
Add sparkling water to the wine mixture just before serving, stirring to combine ingredients. Garnish each glass with a sprig of sugar-covered rosemary.
- 1 gluten-free vegetable bouillon cube or broth concentrate
- ¼-½ cup hot water
- 1 ounce vodka
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Old Bay Seasoning , optional
- Lemon wedge
Use bouillon cube to make broth according to package instructions, adjusting water to desired strength. (Generally, add 1 bouillon cube to ¼ to ½ cup hot water and stir until dissolved.) Place prepared broth in a shaker of ice.
Add vodka and lemon juice and shake to combine ingredients and chill mixture. Taste and add more water if broth tastes too strong.
Place Old Bay Seasoning in a shallow flat bowl. Moisten the rim of a 2-ounce shot glass with the lemon wedge and dip the glass rim into the seasoning.
Strain mixture into rimmed shot glass and serve.
- 1 dried orange slice
- 1 dried lemon slice
- 8 dried whole star anise
- 2 tablespoons whole cloves
- 2 tablespoons dried pomegranate seeds
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1/2 stick cinnamon
- 1/2 gallon apple cider
Cut cheesecloth (Grade 60/very fine mesh works best) into 10×10-inch single-thickness squares and set aside. Lay 1 cheesecloth square flat on a table. Place all ingredients on the square. Then gather up the edges of the cloth and tie with a 10-inch piece of twine.
Pour apple cider into a large pot over medium heat.
Add sachet of Mulling Spices (do not open sachet), stirring to wet sachet.
Cook cider with sachet submerged 10 to 20 minutes without boiling, to taste.
- 1.5 ounces Tuaca or Cinnaster Tuaca liqueur
- 4 ounces Hot Mulled Cider
- 1 cinnamon stick , for garnish
Pour Tuaca into a serving glass or mug.
Add Hot Mulled Cider, stirring to combine.
Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve.
- 10 organic lemons
- 1/2 liter distilled grain alcohol or vodka
- Simple Syrup (recipe above)
Wash lemons thoroughly and dry them. Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, peel the rind off the lemons, carefully avoiding the pith. (The pith is bitter. The peel contains intense lemon flavor and essential oils that make limoncello piquant.)
Place peels into clean, large, lidded glass jars. (Use a separate jar for each flavor of Limoncello. See variations below.)
Pour alcohol and vodka over peels in the jars, making sure peels are completely submerged. Cover the jars and let rest 8 to 10 weeks in a cool, dark location.
To strain the liquid, arrange a single layer of wet, unbleached cheesecloth (very fine mesh) over a large bowl. Slowly pour the liquid through the cheesecloth. Before any peels from the bottom of the containers are poured out, wring the cheesecloth into the bowl to reserve all the precious liquid. Discard all peels once liquid is strained.
Add Simple Syrup in a 1:1 ratio (syrup to alcohol). Add more syrup, to taste.
Use a funnel to transfer Limoncello to smaller bottles to give as gifts or to freeze for your own use.
Cranberry Limoncello: Add 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries to jars with lemon peel in step 2. Follow recipe as instructed. After alcohol has infused 8 to 10 weeks, add Cranberry Ginger Simple Syrup in a 1:1 ratio (syrup to alcohol). Add more syrup, to taste.
Pomegranate Limoncello: Fill a large bowl with water. Cut 6 pomegranates in half vertically. Put the cut side of the fruit into the water, pushing onto the centers with your thumbs to force the seeds out of the fruit and into the water. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, while the fruit debris will float to the top. Skim off debris and rinse the seeds. Using a fine metal sieve over a bowl, press the seeds with the back of a spoon into the mesh to crush them. Pour the broken seeds and the juice into the jars with the lemon peel in step 2. Add a cinnamon stick to each jar. Follow recipe as instructed but strain the liquid 2 or 3 additional times until it’s somewhat opaque but not cloudy. There should be no gray membrane or pith in the final product. Add Simple Syrup in a 2/3:1 ratio (syrup to alcohol). Add more syrup, to taste.
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce limoncello
- 1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice
- Club soda or sparkling water
- 3 maraschino cherries with stems , for garnish
In a glass filled with ice, combine vodka, limoncello and 1 tablespoon juice from a jar of maraschino cherries.
Add club soda or sparkling water, to your taste. Garnish with maraschino cherries.
You can serve this brew warm or cold (shake it with ice and strain). It’s hard to stop at just one. Prepare Salted Caramel Sauce and have it at the ready before making this recipe.
- 1 ounce strong dark coffee
- 1 ounce vodka
- 2 ounces unsweetened cashew milk (or 1 ounce unsweetened soy milk or coconut creamer)
- 1 tablespoon Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below)
- Whipped topping , optional
- Shaved chocolate , optional
For a warm drink, mix hot coffee, vodka, cashew milk and Salted Caramel Sauce together until combined. Top with a dollop of whipped topping and sprinkle with shaved chocolate, if desired.
For a cold drink, place ice in a shaker. Add cold coffee, vodka, cashew milk and Salted Caramel Sauce and shake to combine. Strain mixture into a glass. Serve over ice, if desired.
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup gluten-free beer or ginger ale
- ¼ cup dairy-free buttery sticks or butter , softened
- 1/2 cup coconut milk (14g fat or more) or heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Combine sugar and gluten-free beer in a tall pot over high heat. Mixture will double in volume as it cooks and bubbles up, so the pot needs to be large. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stir until sugar melts (sugar won’t sound crunchy as you stir), about 1 minute.
Once sugar melts, let mixture boil without stirring until caramel reaches a deep amber color, about 5 minutes. If using a candy thermometer, cook only until mixture reaches 180°F. (If it turns brown or smells burned, it is overcooked.)
Remove from heat and whisk in dairy-free buttery sticks until completely melted and combined. If using coconut milk, shake the can of coconut milk and measure out ½ cup. Whisk coconut milk or heavy cream into mixture. When smooth, stir in salt.
Transfer sauce to a glass container and refrigerate until cooled. If refrigerated overnight, cover when cooled. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Originally published by Gluten Free & More. Recipes by Jules Shepard, author of Free For All Cooking (Da Capo Perseus); The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free (Da Capo Perseus); and Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Eating (CreateSpace).
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