Do the first weeks of January mean dragging around the gym bag and yoga mat to tighten up your jiggly “dad bod” by Spring? Have you emptied cupboards of sugary treats, and rendered dairy verboten from the fridge until your butt is ready for bikini season? Do you tote snack bags of cashews and sunflower seeds to ward of the temptation to stop for “just one” donut? Is your car’s dashboard dotted with taped-one vision board images to keep constant sight of your goals? In other words… are you ready to quit kidding yourself and have a freakin’ drink, already? Yeah, me too! However, this guide will help you pick the libation to keep yourself sane while keeping as on track as possible with New Year Resolutions.
If dropping growth hormones and pesticides from your dinner table are part of your diet goals for 2016, consider applying that philosophy to your drinking habits, too. In order for booze to be “certified organic,” it goes a similar process as your organic groceries. The source material for the booze is not grown with antibiotics, growth hormones, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides or GMOs in order to qualify for the government USDA Certified Organic stamp. The wine, beer and liquor brands going to the trouble of getting certified organic, are also often sourcing from sustainable farms and using eco-friendly packaging, a win all around. Full disclosure: I’m passionate about “organic when possible” and have taught organic cocktail classes from coast-to-coast in the United States. So, a few years ago, I co-created OM Liqueurs which is an organic product… and it’s pretty rad. 🙂
If only I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if their vodka is “gluten free”…! There is so much misunderstanding over this topic when it comes to alcohol that many people never quite believe me when I say that distillation strips it all away. Unless gluten is mysteriously added after the distillation process, hard liquor is gluten-free. However, for the people who are hyper freaked out by the risk that this scientific fact is somehow not true, here are a few options: 1) hard cider is made from fruit such as apple, pear, cherry, etc. 2) wine is made from grapes. 3) many spirits are made from fermented agave, sugar cane, and fruits juices rather than “gluteny” grains.
I got a crash course in vegan booze when I taught cocktail classes at a vegan cooking school in Los Angeles. For example, did you know that the delicious Italian liqueur, Campari, originally got its bright red color from crushed cochineal beetles? It has since switched its coloring tactics but I had never before considered that a Negroni cocktail (gin, sweet vermouth, Campari) may not be vegan-friendly! If you avoid animal products at all costs, then you also want to also pay attention to wine. The process called “fining” removes yeast and other organic particles from the liquid during the making process, and is often done so with animal-derived products such as gelatin and fish bladders. Basically, read labels and / or research your favorite booze online because you may be surprised!
And, of course, if you’re doing a sober January (as I am – well, more or less) then just grit your teeth and bear it until next month, when chocolate and champagne are back in season!