Gluten Free Vanilla Flavored Vodka & “Cake Mix” Copycat Vodka Cocktail – Forget What You Know About Wheat!©



     Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free Vanilla Flavored Vodka & Gluten Free “Cake Mix” Vodka Cocktail is so outstanding – drool over your friends drink no more!   This summer I found myself quite envious watching friends drink mixed cocktails.  It seems that since I’ve been placed on a medically necessary gluten free dient, the liquor industry has virtually exploded with flavored distilled spirits!  I’m tired of drooling over vanilla vodka I can’t drink.  Sound familiar?   

Early in the summer of 2013 I contacted many distilled spirit manufacturers with the same burning question – do you have any products which are gluten free?  First I encountered enormous confusion over what the EU (European Union) Allergen Guidelines state versus a minority of US distilleries who follow the US TTB guidelines.  I learned that many distillers are united in their position that any distilled spirit with flavoring cannot be relied upon to be gluten free.  This is because many flavorings have an ingredient or more which may come from a gluten containing source.  

Vodka can be made of virtually any starch, sugar or plant matter.  According to the regulatory body which oversees distilled spirits in the US (TTB – Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau):  Distilled and fermented products which are made from gluten containing source grains and are processed, treated or crafted to remove gluten cannot be labeled “Gluten Free” in the United States. To read more on this topic, “Are Distilled Spirits Gluten Free” Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free Article.

I did a small bit of research for this blog and learned that it is much debated whether Vodka began in 8C Poland or 9C Russia.  Ostensibly, for centuries home cooks and pharmacists have been creating recipes for flavored vodkas, often to improve the taste of the vodka itself.  Vodka can be (and is) made out of potato or wheat or corn or rye or barley or sorghum or “grain” (mixture of any combination of grains) or grape must, etc.  Basically, it can be distilled from any starch or sugar or plant matter, no wonder it has been around for almost forever!  The EU requires a minimum of 37.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) to name anything Vodka.  The US considers 30% ABV or greater to be vodka.  “Spirit” refers to any alcohol with 20% or more ABV and has no sugar added (sometimes also referred to as “liquor” or “hard liquor”.)  When sugar is added it is called a “liqueur.”

One evening, I observed left over Vanilla Syrup in my refrigerator.  I then recalled that bottle of gluten free vodka in my cabinet, and it got me thinking…“Why can’t I make my own vanilla vodka?”  I grabbed a highball glass, filled it with ice, poured in some syrup, vodka and diet ginger ale!  Wow! I finally stopped missing out and I hope you will too!


2  cups  Water

2  cups  Sugar

1    7”  Vanilla Bean (slice down slender length, then sliced again in half


Bring all of the ingredients to boil in a heavy saucepan.

Reduce heat to a rolling simmer (medium high) for about 15-20 minutes. The liquid will reduce and become a syrup.  The color should be pale golden, if it appears dark or caramel color, the heat is too high.  Lower the heat and scoop it out.

Allow syrup to cool a bit, then strain & transfer to a jar with a tight fitting lid.  I use a funnel and my fine mesh sieve.

PICT0009Pour the syrup over the strainer into the funnel.  (When I make ice cream, I do not strain the bean out, I like the flecks of vanilla.)

Once in jar, allow syrup to cool, place lid on tight. Place jar in refrigerator.  Keeps for months in fridge.

The syrup is also delicious in iced or hot tea or even as sweetener in coffee!   



This is a drink classified by the glass it is served in.  The glass should be tall and hold 8-12 ounces of liquid.   


2 tsp of Vanilla Simple Syrup will flavor 1 ounce of Vodka. However, I encourage you to determine your own taste of syrup to vodka ratio.



Vanilla Simple Syrup

GF Vodka

(I use Diet) Ginger Ale  

Fill Highball glass with ice.

Pour 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Simple Syrup over ice.

Pour 1-2 ounces of Vodka over ice & syrup.

Pour 4-6 ounces of (I use Diet) Ginger Ale into glass

Stir and serve!

Vanilla Bean:

ripening vanilla on vine

This is a really cool factoid – Vanilla “Bean” is actually a Flat Leaf Orchid!

    A Mexican Species originally, the orchid is from the Genus Vanilla. It grows as a vine.  In the 1520s Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortẻs is credited with having brought Vanilla and Chocolate to Europe. Later, a 12 year old from an island in the Indian Ocean is recognized as having discovered that the Vanilla orchid can be hand pollinated.  Hand Pollination allowed Vanilla to be grown throughout the world.   Vanilla grows quickly,but takes 6 months to ripen for harvest!  Growing Vanilla requires intense labor and it is therefore pricey.  An average vine yields 3-6 pounds of pods.  The sticky interior is actually a length of seeds.



1.  US TTB; “Interim Policy on Gluten Content Statements in the labeling and Advertising of Wines, Distilled Spirits and Malt Beverages”2012

2.  Gin & Vodka Association of UK

3.  “Distilled Beverage”Wikipedia; 2013

“Gluten Free Vanilla Flavored Vodka & Gluten Free “Cake Mix” Copycat Vodka Cocktail” by Liz Conforti, Forget What You Know About Wheat!© 2014

Mixed Cocktails not your thing?

literary dog

Enjoy gluten free Literary Dog Artisanal Sipping Vodka

Want to Enjoy a whole new experience in Vodka? Elm Brook Farm Distillery, Literary Dog Artisanal Vodka will Delight Your Spirit and Your Palate! Gluten Free because its source is Maple Syrup!  Distilled 23 times creating the Perfect Sipping Vodka –  Literary Dog is like nothing you have ever tasted before!

 Visit Elm Brook online or in person and sample all of their products! 

Literary Dog photo courtesy of Gino Conforti

See Also Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free:

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“Italian Sangria” Wine with Peaches

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      Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free:  Journey into a Culinary Cultural Evolution & Learn How to Transform Southern Italian Recipes to Gluten Free…Experience a Kitchen so Delicious, Those Who Can Eat Gluten Choose Not To!  Available formats:  eBook, & Paperback; On, and at Select Vermont Retailers.


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