Cooking with Booze
Need help? Call our 24/7 helpline. 855-933-3480

Cooking with Booze


This post was originally published on April 16, 2014.

We’ve all heard the rumor that cooking with wine ain’t no thang because alcohol burns off in the heating process, right? Well, I recently stumbled upon a great little post that—for sober alcoholics—packs a big punch as it addresses the issue of cooking with booze.

According to this handy little chart on the N.Y Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services site, there is virtually no way to remove all traces of alcohol from food. Even after two-and-a-half hours of baking, a mixture containing liquor will still retain five percent of its alcohol content (about the same as in a glass of beer). While most people don’t worry about getting pulled over for drunk driving after having a slice of amaretto cheesecake, this is significant information for those in abstinence-based recovery programs. Because when you are sober, there is nothing worse than being at a dinner party and realizing your chicken is soaked in merlot.

When I was about two years sober, I went to a restaurant with some friends to hear live music. The waitress came and took our drink order: a glass of merlot, a vodka gimlet and a Jack-and-ginger for my friends and a sugar-free Red Bull for me. The drinks arrived and when I took my first sip, I immediately got light-headed. Knowing she’d accidentally given me the wrong drink, I reflexively spit the rest of the liquid back into my glass and made a beeline for the bathroom. Pushing bodies in line aside, I took cover at the sink, crying hysterically and rinsing my mouth out, then vigorously wiping my tongue with a parch brown paper towel. Through the mirror, I could see the women staring at me but I didn’t care. After all I had been through to stay sober, I was terrified that one sip of alcohol may have re-triggered my obsession to drink.

It turned out fine. I called my sponsor and shared about it at a meeting and my brush with relapse was behind me. Since then I have tried to be more cautious, always asking the server about ingredients when I am not sure. But I’m not always at a restaurant. Sometimes I am at a friend’s house for dinner and one bite into the baked banana dessert can leave me feeling like I need to reset my sobriety date.

I’ll be honest, up until reading this post, I never would have thought twice about ordering Guinness-flavored ice cream or Jack Daniels-glazed chicken wings. I always assumed that any trace of booze would’ve burned off in the creation of the dish. Although if I had thought about it for two seconds, I would have realized that there isn’t an opportunity for anything to burn off making ice cream. Sometimes things are hard to see when they are obvious.

And for you non-sober peeps out there that think I am overreacting, remember the time you did the South Beach diet and got on that sick workout regime? Remember how good you felt? Then remember how, after two weeks, you went to a wedding and allowed yourself to eat freely? Remember how you were never able to get back on track with your diet and exercise? Yeah, it’s like that. Except instead of going up a dress size, we crash cars and sleep with strangers.

Any Questions? Call Now To Speak to a Rehab Specialist
(855) 933-3480

About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.