Ingredients labeling is currently not required for alcohol in the United States. This is because spirits aren’t regulated by the FDA, which means they fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau which doesn’t have the same labeling requirements as the FDA.
To help alleviate some of the holiday stress, we’ve compiled a list of some popular alcoholic beverages that can contain common food allergens. Note that this is not a complete list and new flavors and formulations can be added at any time, so if you’re not sure of the ingredients or 100% comfortable, we always recommend that you err on the side of caution and refrain from consuming that beverage.
Beer and Malt Beverages (May Contain Wheat, Nuts)
Beer contains gluten and is often made of wheat or barley, but can also have different ingredients mixed in for flavoring. Nut Brown Ales contain nuts for flavoring such as peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts. Be cautious with specialty beers or any stouts and ales that are pitched to have a “nutty” quality.
Wines (May Contain Sulfites, Eggs, Milk, Fish)
Red and white wine usually contain sulfites, but there are sulfur-free wines available. Many wines use eggs, milk or fish in the fining stage of production.The ingredient list will not include these allergens because even though the wine has come into contact with these ingredients, they are removed from the final product.
Mead (May Contain Nuts)
Mead is traditionally made from honey. Similar to beer, be careful with “mulled” meads or varieties that have spices in them as they may have nuts.
Sake (May Contain Sulfites)
Sake is mostly made from rice, but can also contain sulfites. There’s a special kind of mold, koji, that is used instead of yeast to encourage and control the fermentation.
Vermouth (May Contain Sulfites, Nuts)
Vermouth is a fortified wine infused with botanicals, which can be roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs and spices that may or may not contain nuts and other allergens. It’s important to note that even though vermouth is a wine, it is often used in martinis.
Gin (May Contain Nuts)
Gin is a juniper flavored spirit and is usually distilled with botanicals and other flavors including nuts. Many of the popular gin brands such as Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire contain almond.
Vodka (May Contain Wheat, Soy, Nuts)
Vodka is commonly known as alcohol derived from potatoes, but most vodkas are actually produced from grains such as sorghum, corn, rye or wheat. Some vodkas are made from molasses, soybeans, grapes, rice and sugar beets. Flavored vodkas are increasing in popularity and there are now peanut and other nut flavored vodkas.
Whiskey/Scotch/Rye/Bourbon (May Contain Wheat, Corn, Peanuts, Nuts)
Whiskeys are distilled from fermented grain mash then aged in wooden barrels. Depending on the country of origin, whiskey can be referred to as scotch (Scotland), rye (Canada) or bourbon (America). It can be derived from various grains such as barley, corn, rye or wheat, and some may contain caramel and other spices for flavoring. Some brands, such as Elbana Irish Whiskey contains almonds and peanuts.
Rum (May Contain Dairy, Nuts)
Rum is made from sugarcane byproducts, such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, and is usually aged in oak barrels. Spiced rums can sometimes be flavored with nuts or peanuts and rum creams contain dairy.
-Amarula Cream (Dairy)
-Castries Peanut Rum Creme (Peanuts, Dairy)
-Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liquor (Macadamia nuts)
Some mixed drinks are topped with Maraschino cherries for garnish, which can be flavored with natural or imitation almond extract.
Finally, it’s important to be aware of cross-contamination risks at a bar. Cocktail shakers can be used for multiple drinks.