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strongly suggest Rachel’s Ginger Beer,” says Rathbun. “It’s not sugar-free, but is organic and gluten-free. Also, Fever- Tree mixers (tonic water, bitter lemon, ginger ale and ginger beer) are all natural—again, not all sugar free—and amazing. Organic or fresh-squeezed fruit juices also make good mixers. Mo- nin has a sugar-free pomegranate syrup that can substitute for grenadine.”


Gluten-Free Spirits, Wine and Beer


Rathbun found that small-batch distill- ers that use local and organic ingredi- ents assure customers that they’re get- ting the real thing, with no unwanted extras. Koval, in Chicago, for instance, offers a naturally gluten-free millet whiskey that’s distilled from organic grain, and then aged in oak barrels made in Minnesota, deemed free of even trace amounts of gluten. Other gluten-free alcoholic bever- ages can include wines, vodka, tequila, brandy, bourbon and scotch. By con- tacting the maker or company directly, gluten-free fans can find out more about their beverage of choice. Captain Mor- gan’s spiced rum, for example, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau permit to be designated as gluten-free, is not labeled as such on the bottle.


Gluten-free beers are appropriately labeled and include Sapporo, a Japa- nese beer brewed from rice; Green’s, a British beer made from a blend of sorghum, buckwheat, millet and brown rice; and O’Brien’s, an Australian beer using a blend of sorghum, millet and rice. Gluten-free beer lovers can also check locally for micro-brewed options.


Crafting a Holiday Cocktail Signature cocktails have become a holiday specialty of Andrea Currie, who recently appeared on the Discovery Channel’s Craft Wars. “A cocktail is kind of like a dessert,” says the San Diego, California, creativity specialist. “You don’t have one every day, and when you do have one, you want it to be really, re- ally good.” Moreover, she adds, “When you make cocktails by hand, you get to control the ingredients.”


24 Hudson County NAHudson.com


Currie blogs and crafts at Hand


MakeMyDay.com, with her husband, Cliff. His becoming gluten-free three years ago prompted her to develop her gluten-free Mistletoe Mojito, using rum distilled from sugar cane, rather than grain. Pear juice, fresh strawberries and mint combine for a fresh-tasting and festive concoction.


Signature cocktails can build excitement for holiday get-togethers, notes Rathbun. “Plan on serving only


Tiziano


“The best, and most simple, way to have better cocktails is to use fresh juice,” says author A.J. Rathbun. This recipe is adapted from his Champagne Cocktails.


Yields 4 servings


6 oz (4 jiggers) white grape juice, preferably organic Chilled prosecco, preferably organic Frozen green or red grapes


1. Pour 1½ oz (1 jigger) of the grape juice into each of four flute glasses.


2. Fill glasses almost to the top with prosecco. Carefully drop one or two grapes into each glass and serve.


Variation: Change the white grape juice to strawberry juice or strawberry purée and garnish with a fresh (not frozen) strawberry instead of a grape, to trans- form this into a Rossini.


Gluten-Free


Mistletoe Mojitos Andrea Currie developed this signature holiday cocktail for gluten-free cel- ebrants. Currie recommends using natu- ral pear juice, found bottled at health food markets.


Yields 2 servings 3 large mint leaves


2 fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered


3 oz (two jiggers) spiced rum


two or three signature drinks, plus having wine, beer and a nice non- alcoholic option,” he suggests. “If you start mentioning these drinks on the invitations to whet people’s appetites, you give your celebration more person- ality from the get-go and help ensure a memorable holiday party.”


Award-winning cookbook author Judith Fertig blogs at AlfrescoFood AndLifestyle.blogspot.com.


FESTIVE BEVERAGE RECIPES


4 oz (½ cup) pear juice or nectar Ice for cocktail glasses


Splash of carbonated lemon-lime beverage


Slices of fresh pear and mint sprigs for garnish


1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint and strawberries with rum, us- ing a wooden muddler or a wooden spoon.


2. Add the pear juice and shake.


3. Pour into cocktail glasses filled with ice and add a splash of carbonated lemon-lime beverage.


Organic Royale


Chicago’s Koval distillery advises that if kobuso juice, made from a Japanese citrus, isn’t available, just squeeze in a little fresh lemon juice to taste.


Yields 1 serving


4 oz chilled organic hard cider ½ oz chilled Koval Organic Chrysanthemum-Honey Liqueur


½ oz chilled Yakami Orchard Single Orchard Kobuso Juice 5 drops bitters


1. In a chilled champagne flute, combine the chilled chrysanthemum- honey liqueur and the chilled kobuso juice, then top if off with hard cider.


2. Add drops of some favorite bitters. 3. Stir and serve.


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