Let me first start off saying that there are some parts of my “job” as a blogger that are just down right difficult to do and the perfect examples are yesterday’s gluten free beer showdown and today’s review of Top Shelf Ultra Premium Cocktail Mixers. Sometimes, ya just gotta take one (or two) for the team!
When my pal Gluten Free Dee called and asked if she could send me a few gluten free products to review, I was hesitant because I really don’t do prepackaged food reviews anymore (mostly due to our additional dietary restrictions, but also because I’ve become a passionate advocate for whole foods), but Dee is a very dear friend of mine so I was willing to make an exception, as long as it was okay to offer the opinions of friends and family if the products contained ingredients we can’t have (corn for me, eggs for Luke and dairy for all of us).
Imagine my surprise when I found out that a couple of the products were not only gluten-free, but corn-free too, including the Top Shelf Premium Cocktail Mixers I’m reviewing today (seriously, that’s akin to hitting the Powerball Jackpot for someone with a corn allergy!). While I don’t drink very often (alcohol can be very damaging to the gut and I’m still trying to heal mine), this gluten free girl does enjoy letting her hair down every once in a while! 😉
And if the corn-free status weren’t good enough news, I then found out that the CEO of Top Shelf Brands is a fellow celiac, woo-hoo!! Well, I’m not woo-hooing the fact that he has celiac per se, but I do feel a lot safer consuming products from companies led by someone who shares the same health concerns that I do. The gluten free community is one protective group and we definitely look out for each other.
Check out this email I received from Craig (bold emphasis and links added):
As a diagnosed Celiac since 1997 and CEO of our start-up spirits/beverage company, I have enforced everything about Top Shelf Cocktail Mixers’ ingredients, storage and manufacturing practices to be carefully observed and guarded to remain Gluten-Free. It’s been a dream of mine to be part of a Gluten-Free brand so I take this very personal.
Our cocktail mixers have been carefully balanced to deliver a crisp, clean, vibrant taste using all Gluten-Free ingredients and are now made in a 100% Gluten-Free manufacturing facility in Colorado. We use fruit, vegetables and pure cane sugar and you just have to add the alcohol. They are lower in sugar, calories and acidity in comparison to most other cocktail mixers, which allows for making better tasting cocktails without overpowering the spirits. Each (750 ml) bottle serves about eight (8) cocktails and they are all non-alcoholic: Apple Martini, Pomegranate Martini, Margarita, Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop and Jalapeno Bloody Mary.
My journey as a Celiac wasn’t easy. As a growing young teenager I suddenly suffered classic digestive symptoms, which did not go away. I was an active athlete and social teenager, I thought I should hide the pain, but after a while complained about it. After about a year of hardship, sweat and tears, I went to a doctor and explained that these issues were ruining my life and he recommended a local GI specialist to treat me. Dr. Dadhania (New Jersey GI specialist) comforted me and promised that we would find out what’s wrong through various blood work, upper/lower GI series, endoscopies, colonoscopies and more. I was lucky in a few months to be diagnosed via classic Celiac Disease test results and was on my way to recovery though a Gluten-Free diet. It wasn’t easy to learn how to eat Gluten-Free, but I’m so blessed to have been given a food education. I have met so many great people through our vast community and see that the 100% Gluten-Free movement has grown. My only hope is that people continue to recognize contamination issues and learn more about it.
The wonderful Gluten-Free community may recognize me as GlutenFreeG. I regularly message on Twitter @GlutenFreeG and conduct product reviews at GlutenFreeG.blogspot.com. My goal has been and always will be to educate and connect people on living and eating Gluten-Free, smarter! My efforts to push the Gluten-Free movement forward continue because the owner of Top Shelf Brands also recognizes the need to offer 100% Gluten-Free products and my passion and talent in Marketing, Sales and Operations.
Top Shelf Brands also make a vodka distilled 5x from lush California grapes, but currently is only distributed in Colorado for the time being. The Tasting Panel Magazine awarded our vodka a 94-point rating which compares well to the “top shelf” vodkas in the market, but we are proud Gluten-Free through AIB testing! Since vodka cannot be purchased online you’ll need to travel to Colorado to try it!
Craig sent me a few complimentary cocktail mixers to sample and review, the Margarita, Pomegranate Martini and the Lemon Drop and all are gluten-free, corn-free and synthetic dye-free! That’s right, you will not find a single drop of anything “corny” in any of these cocktail mixers, just the pure juice from real fruits and vegetables (not from concentrate), plus cane sugar and a couple preservatives.
Just for kicks, here is an ingredient comparison between Top Shelf’s Margarita Mix and Jose Cuervo’s Classic “Lime” Margarita Mix:
Jose Cuervo: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate (to preserve flavor), Cellulose Gum, SAIB, Polysorbate 60, and FD&C Yellow 5.
Basically, Jose Cuervo is artificial citrus flavored corn, not a single drop of real citrus juice. Kinda gross if you really think about it.
Another thing I like about the Top Shelf Premium Cocktail Mixers is that they come in a gorgeous heavy frosted glass bottle…no schleppy plastic. Classy mixer, classy presentation…all for only $6.99 a bottle with free shipping. These would make a great gift…in fact, I think I will gift some to myself! 😀
Alright, alright, I’m getting to the really important part…taste. And for that, I will have to share the comments from a few of my friends anyway (my taste buds still aren’t 100% since my sinus surgery). Everyone absolutely loved the margarita and lemon drop. Well, the tiny little taste they were able to try of the margarita anyway…I may have gotten a little carried away the afternoon I was taking the pictures for this review. Let me tell you, those babies were smoooooth. I will also throw out there that a little margarita makes household chores a lot more fun. 😉
I thought the Pomegranate Martini was good too but my samplers thought it was overly sweet and lacking in pomegranate flavor. My friend Shirley from Gluten Free Easily said it tasted more like fruit punch in her review (my mother-in law agreed)…but either which way, I think it goes very well with my vodka of choice, Ciroc which is made from grapes, not grain (in case you’re curious, the coating on the rim of the glass below is India Tree’s All Natural Raspberry Red Decorating Sugar).
So guess what? Craig has offered to give TWO of my readers the same free trio of cocktail mixers that he sent to me (sorry, alcohol not included).
**This giveaway is now closed**
What is your favorite cocktail?
Bonus Entry Opportunities (strictly optional, just be sure to leave a separate comment for each completed task so I can make sure you get proper credit):
- ‘Like’ Top Shelf Premium Cocktail Mixers on Facebook
- ‘Follow’ Top Shelf Brands on Twitter
- Share the link to this giveaway on Facebook (please tag @Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom so I know you did this)
- Share the link to this giveaway on Twitter (please include @adventuresgfmom in your tweet so I know you did this)
I will announce the TWO winners on Monday, July 11, 2011…Good Luck!
And with that, I leave you with a very funny Bill Cosby clip on drinking…Happy Friday! 😀
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