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Dec 27, 2012 02:20 PM

Artificial Ingredients and your Liquor Store Offerings

Is anyone else bothered by the lack of regulations regarding ingredients lists on liquor store products? I suspect that many of the currently popular products might lose some business if the customers could see what's in them. From ultra sugar to artifical sweeteners to preservatives, colors, and flavors....many things that some people wouldn't allow in their food....

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  1. Are you talking about basic hard alcohol like plain vodka, rum, whiskey,etc? Wine? Beer?

    Or are you talking about some of those hybrid things like cupcake flavored vodkas? I cant imagine anyone thinks those things are natural or free of artificial ingredients.

    4 Replies
    1. re: foodieX2

      Flavored spirits, beer, wine, mixers, anything you can think of.

      1. re: sandylc

        Again, I doubt anyone thinks they are drinking organic/all natural /clean beverages when talking about flavored spirits or any mass produced wines, sodas, tonics, etc.

        Are you suggesting that you would like to see ingredients lists on alcohol? I doubt it would matter much as such you cant really count of labeling for most foods.

        1. re: foodieX2

          Yes, I am suggesting that ingredients labels should be required on liquor store products - why are they excluded from these laws?

          Seriously, how much lying do you suspect food manufacturers do on their labels? Sounds like another thread! I know that they enjoy quite a bit of latitude regarding names of ingredients...

          1. re: sandylc

            I take most food labels with a grain of salt (ha! is that a pun?). They have great latitude with just the use of the term "natural flavors/seasonings". Never mind the CYA of allergen labels. All ingredients labels will do is increase the price of our booze and potentially cause financial harm to the little guys.

            I like to approach my food consumption with the 90/10 rule. If I am eating well/clean 90% of time I am not going to worry about the other 10%. So is that one bag of processed goodies going to kill me? Probably not.

            I also don't think any form of alcohol is a health drink. While I personally would never ingest any of those new nasty flavored vodkas, some clearly marked artificially flavored while others boast "We don’t add any unnatural sweeteners!" I still love my occasional cosmo or moscow mule and if those have hidden chemicals I am not going to sweat it.

    2. Liquor ingredients in the US are fairly well regulated, but specific disclosures are not required and some spirits are more regulated than others. It's worth taking a look at the TTB standards of identity. For instance, "straight whiskey" can't include any additives at all. There are specific definitions for many other types of alcohol that will tell you if they can include additives (though they don't generally have to tell you if they do).

      1 Reply
      1. re: sku

        (Slight thread drift)

        The first proposal for the pregnancy warning label was a silhouette of an obviously pregnant woman with a red circle-and-slash through the silhouette. A female winemaker I knew took one look at it and said, "You mean I can drink this and NOT get pregnant? GIMME A CASE!"

      2. Creme de Noyeau is generally fake. Noyeau de Poissey is a distillate instead of the old school infusion. The rest are artificial.

        Many sloe gins that are not Plymouth or Bitter Truth. Averell Damson uses a related fruit and there's another similar product on the market.

        A good number of crème de peches taste fake. Too much flavor and artificial seeming at that; really CdP is more subtle.

        Passoa passion fruit liqueur was pretty candy like -- I figured the Remi-Cointreau name on it would mean quality not Jolly Rancher (not to mention the fake color). Instead, I found a natural one from the Azores.

        A good number of orgeat syrups. B.G. Reynolds and Small Hands Food are made from almonds though (not extract). I'm also not sure of how many Monin syrups come from traditional syrup making processes either.

        1. Grenadine used to be made from pomegranate juice. Baileys HAS to be full of crap - it tastes so terrible and is so very sweet.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sandylc

            Definitely. Still some grenadines that do, and Camper English recently wrote about this on Alcademics. He lists Small Hand Foods, Sitrrings, and Employees Only as pomegranate-containing ones; BG Reynold's Hibiscus Grenadine should be on that list too.
            More 4-1-1:

          2. Sandy,

            I am honestly interested in this question and honestly need to say that I am not sure how quickly I'll be able to respond with the restaurant super busy in the next few days but bear with me.

            Foodie already asked this question but are you differentiating between what is available at a liquor store vs. what is available in grocery or on-line? This was your response to his question that seems to include (depending what State you are in) things that are available at numerous outlets (though mixers would fall under the same laws even if liquor laws prevented sales in grocery), "Flavored spirits, beer, wine, mixers, anything you can think of." That makes some sense if you then go to a later post of your noting that Grenadine is less, rather than more, likely to be made with pomegranate these days. But the scope of your question and then the hyper-specificity confuse me a little.

            Are you concerned about liquor labeling laws in general or just bummed that there aren't more (for lack of a better term) artisinal options stating exactly what is in their bottle of...whatever might be used in making a cocktail? The market has done a terrific job of sorting itself in this case, in my opinion. One example. In Imbibe, David Wondrich laments the lack of an true Peach Brandy for a certain drink (too late at night to look up)...a couple years later, I ask him about it at an event and he mentions the exact shop in Los Angeles it is now available.

            I first learned to tend bar in 1994 and compared to then, HA!!!!!!!! Coco Lopez was a fine ingredient used only by the highest class establishments. Seriously. The options available now and the standard for even a local bar are so much higher it boggles the mind--from well rum, to bitters, to juice, to garnish to vermouth and on and on. There are products now thriving that were practically unthinkable 15+ years the best sense.

            As I ease into my 40's, what the "good old days" were become a lot more muddy. Jerry Thomas might have squeezed his grenadine between thumb and forefinger, seed by pomegranate seed, but I can assure you there was no posting in the bathroom that employees had to wash their hands in his day. I am not sure we are not only in a place where things are better, I think they are thriving in terms of the high-quality products available and the overall level of concern about safety.

            I am not particularly concerned about current U.S. labelling laws. If we are not able to figure out that Four Loko is not a good thing and the color of Sour Apple Pucker does not exist in nature, I think that is as much on the consumer as the producer and I can confidently say, that alcohol is still the most dangerous ingredient in alcohol.