Alcohol and Salicylate Sensitivity: Do they Mix?

by | Oct 22, 2022

Back in my university days when I was partial to a tipple or two, I remember waking up after each night out on the town, always with terrible congestion, severe migraine and unbearably itchy skin. Attributing a less-than-stellar lifestyle to my health woes, it wasn’t until a dietitian diagnosed me with a salicylate sensitivity that the penny dropped. Turns out many alcoholic beverages (I’m looking at you red wine) are very high in salicylates, meaning it doesn’t take much to overshoot your salicylate threshold and for unpleasant symptoms to ensue.

Now that I’m older (and somewhat wiser), I’ve had the time to identify exactly which alcoholic beverages trigger my symptoms, as well as my personal chemical threshold, meaning I can still eat or drink most things, I just have to be mindful of how much I consume in one sitting.

While a generous glass of red wine by the fire after a long day is no longer an option for me, a vodka and soda on the rocks does the job nicely. And to be absolutely honest, these days a steamy cup of hot chocolate curled up with a good book is as crazy as it gets – oh how times have changed!

What alcohol is low in salicylates?

Alcoholic beverages that are listed as low in salicylates according to the RPAH elimination diet handbook include:

  • Gin (if you mix with tonic, it’s listed as moderate)
  • Vodka
  • Whisky

Make sure to avoid flavoured spirits and only use plain distilled varieties.

What alcohol is high in salicylates?

  • Beer
  • Champagne
  • Sparkling wine
  • Cider
  • Bourbon
  • Brandy
  • Cognac
  • Marsala
  • Pre-mixes
  • Port
  • Rum
  • Sherry
  • Red/white/fortified wine

Low salicylate alcohol recipes

Nonalcoholic drink ideas

  • Sparkling water
  • Homemade pear juice (no peel)
  • Lemonade (no preservatives)
  • Crio Brü coffee alternative 
  • Decaffeinated coffee (instant or ground)
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hot carob

DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 


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