Thursday, February 3, 2011

GEGGF - Drinks

Author's note: This post is geared toward someone who doesn't really know that much about gluten or the gluten free diet, but wants to accommodate for someone gluten free (SGF). It's mostly written for people like me -- I try to be as accommodating a hostess as possible and try to make sure that everyone has something to eat and isn't going to be stuck on the toilet for the next three days. This series of posts is meant to be pretty tongue-in-cheek, and there are a ton of other great options -- these are just some suggestions for that gluten newbie out there.

To see previous posts on GEGGF, click here for the Introduction, or see my Superbowl party post and Valentine's Day post.

It's the weekend!!! Time to meet up with your friends, unwind with a couple of drinks, and have some fun! Let's face it, a big part of the social scene for late-20-somethings and early-30-somethings revolves around alcohol. (If you're a teenager reading this? Go away and come back to this blog entry when you're 21. And even then, trust me, most of the places listed in this post aren't going to be your scene).

And if you're reading this post, odds are you're either a friend of someone who recently got diagnosed with celiac and you're trying to figure out where to go with them. Or, you've got someone gluten free (SGF) in your life and you want to celebrate some milestone - (30th) birthday, engagement, bachelor/bachelorette party, promotion, whatever. You want to make sure that they have a blast.

First - the good news. Drinks are one of the easiest places to find for SGF. Almost any bar will do as long as SGF is flexible when it comes to what alcohol he or she will drink. My hubby -- he likes beer and Woodchuck, sure. But if we're meeting friends out at a place that doesn't carry either of those options, he'll either drink regular Pepsi and offer to be the DD, or drink a Captain and Coke. No big deal.

Second - the (sort of) bad news. It's almost impossible to find a bar with happy hour munchies that are safe. Almost all happy hour food is fried - and the stuff that isn't fried? Well, let's just put it this way. Do you really trust a whole bar full of drunks picking over a buffet to NOT contaminate the chips and salsa by double dipping or something even grosser?

Yeah, thought so.

That said. You eat gluten, sure. If you eat a breadstick, you're probably not going to think twice about it because you're not going to be sitting on the toilet later on. At least, not because of the gluten. But think about it. You're in a bar full of drunks. They're all scouring the buffet of happy hour munchies. Many men don't wash their hand after they use the bathroom. Just sayin'. SGF... really isn't missing much there.

SGF knows this, and will make arrangements to eat beforehand. Or stick a KIND bar in their purse or pocket for later. No big deal.

Still, this post is supposed to recommend places to go, so here are some of my favorite local recommendations:
  • Bomber's. We've gone to both Albany and Schenectady (I like the Schenectady one a bit better), and love it. I've written about them in the past, but here goes: They have amazing margaritas, Woodchuck on draft, and you can get food there! We've always had a great experience talking to the staff. They tend to be knowledgeable and willing to check with the kitchen if they don't know the answer to a question. Their wings are gluten free and made in a dedicated meat fryer. Their hard tacos are also safe as long as the filling isn't battered. I believe their nachos were OK too but we haven't ordered them yet. Ask when you go, though!
  • Wolff's Biergarten. They have a wonderful gluten free Belgian beer, Green's. It's bottled, but very very good. They also have a really cool ambiance, with picnic tables and baskets of peanuts (as long as you trust that whole communal, everyone's-hands-are-in-it thing... I'm a little better with the nuts since they're still in the shell). Not sure about the food, since the beer has always been our priority here.
  • Try the bar at Wheat Fields. Sure, it's a restaurant and not great for 30 of your friends, but it's a great place to bring a date. Their bar is nice, and their Saratoga menu includes steamed mussels while their Clifton Park menu offers polenta with veggies. Both locations offer caprese salad, one of my favorite bites ever. You can stay for dinner after drinks, or just do wine and dessert at the bar -- their ricotta cheesecake is amazing.
  • My hubby's favorite place to go for a low-key night hanging out is Diamond Eight Billiards in Latham. They have pool, darts, and a full bar. Plus, I successfully had his 30th Birthday Party catered there last year. Irene was wonderful and very accommodating.
Or, try:
  • The Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark Street. It's a small place that I haven't gotten around to trying yet, but I've heard you can arrange tastings and they'll work to accommodate your dietary needs. Their cheese plate alone makes my mouth water!
  • In the mood for something different? We have a vinery in our back yard! Altamond vineyard and winery produces local, NYS wine. They also do private parties, tastings, and tours.
  • Host a wine-tasting party at home. When we do this, we ask everyone to bring a bottle of wine (Last time, I set a $10 cap so no one spent too much more than anyone else -- I'd probably raise the cap to $20 next time) and put out a few munchies. Think cheese, grapes, other fresh fruit, and dark chocolate (for the red wine). Nothing too fancy. In fact, I think we need to do this again, soon... :)
What are your favorite bars in the area?

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