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Cannabis Cocktails & Drinks: What You Should Know

Drink your medicine, but proceed with caution

S&C Design Studios

Have you toyed with the thought of adding cannabis to your cocktails? Now that many states in the U.S. have legalized some form of marijuana use, the conversation about mixing alcohol and cannabis is more important than ever.

Before you mix up a cannabis-infused cocktail, there are a few things you should know. This is not a matter that should be taken as casually as the average cocktail or smoking a joint. If you choose to combine the two into a single glass, a new level of responsibility and moderation is needed.

The Precautions and Concerns

Most cannabis users know by now that there are two primary compounds found in marijuana: THC and CBD. THC is the chemical that produces the high that many users seek from marijuana, while CBD has no psychoactive effect though this is where the medicinal value lies. While cannabis strains vary in their THC and CBD values, most contain at least some concentration of each chemical.

You know that cannabis can get you high and that alcohol can get you drunk, those are clear facts. Yet, the two cause different reactions within your body and that is where the concern lies.

Those who drink know that liquor can hit you relatively quick. When we talk about cannabis ‘drinkables,’ it will take longer to feel the effects than when it is smoked. The timing is similar to edibles and, depending on your personal metabolism, regularity of use, and other factors, it can take up to an hour or two to feel the high from a cannabis drink.

The cannabis high from drinking can also stick around longer or be more intense than you would expect or necessarily enjoy. On average, five to six hours of feeling high is not uncommon and some drinkers report feeling its effects into the next day.

All of this has brought up concerns within the bartending community. It has become a topic of conversation because some bars in states where recreational cannabis is legal are serving cannabis cocktails. As professional mixologists have pointed out in a Liquor.com article if you choose to do this, it needs to be done with caution and your customers need to be informed.

Essential Tips for Starting Your Canna Drink Experience

The real problem with drinking cannabis, even if it’s not mixed with alcohol, is that there are so many variables. Your body, the strain of marijuana, and the potency of the drink itself will become key factors. No one can tell you how this drink or that drink is going to affect you.

In his book, “Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics,” Warren Bobrow has great advice for easing into cannabis drinks. Overall, the message is to take it low and slow. Essentially, this means a low dosage and a single drink.

The unpredictability of drinking cannabis drinks leads to a few precautions:

  • When beginning to experiment, do so in a safe environment such your home just in case you do get too high. Do not drive, it’s just not cool (or legal).
  • Start with non-alcoholic drinks and small dosages of cannabis-infused ingredients such as tinctures, syrups, and creamers.
  • Wait! Just like edibles, your stomach needs to absorb the cannabis compounds, so don’t think that you need a second drink after 15 or 30 minutes. Practice patience.
  • Limit how many cannabis drinks you have each day. Bobrow recommends playing it safe and sticking with a single infused drink per night.

Bobrow is well-experienced in mixing cannabis and alcohol. He is known as the ‘Cocktail Whisperer’ and has studied both the bar and marijuana for many years. When speaking with him, you really do get an understanding of his experience, so his advice should not go unheeded. If there is an ‘authority’ in the burgeoning canna cocktail world, he’s the guy.

That said, in an interview, he did pass on a simple trick just in case you overdo it on the drinkables. If you find yourself overwhelmed with anxiety and the buzz is just too much to handle, take a drink of fresh lemon juice and chew on 3 to 4 peppercorns (cloves work, too). It’s a good idea to have these ingredients handy.

How to Approach Cannabis Drinks

Cannabis drinks are not all about a new way to get high. They can be used for their medicinal benefits and that is the primary approach that Bobrow takes in his book. Many cannabis users are interested in it because of this and from the apothecary standpoint, there is a lot to be said about drinkables.

You do not have to mix cannabis with alcohol, either. In fact, Bobrow recommends that beginners try mocktails and tonics first. It can be something as simple as his Turkish Coffee recipe, which uses a dollop of canna butter in a take on Vietnamese Coffee. You can also add a dose of cannabis tincture to a glass of soda for a quick drink.

Tip: For a ‘buzz’ free tincture, ask your dispensary for a CBD tincture as this will have all the medicinal benefits without the high.

When and if you do begin to experiment with cannabis cocktails, follow a proven recipe like those in the “Cannabis Cocktails” book. Do not stray from the recipe or overpour the liquor or cannabis ingredient until you know how it affects you.

It’s also very common for homebrewers and winemakers to make cannabis-infused versions of their beverages. The same precautions should be taken with these and, quite often, a single drink is enough.

Creating Cannabis-Infused Mixers

There are a number of ways to get cannabis into your drinks. No matter which you choose, it is vital that it is decarboxylated (‘decarb,’ for short). This is because the active compounds in marijuana only become active with heat, which is why smoking is so effective.

Tip: Decarbing is easy and can be done in your kitchen. It is, however, a pungent process and if you are concerned about neighbors or visitors, you will need to take precautions.

With decarbed cannabis, you can create a variety of liquid mixers to go into your drinks:

  • Cannabis infused liquors. Created similar to other homemade infusions, but with heat. Bobrow has tips for the process and recommendations for strain-liquor pairings in his book.
  • Canna butter, cream, or syrup. Quick ways to drink your medicine in any beverage. Adding lecithin helps your body absorb the cannabis compounds more quickly.
  • Cannabis tinctures. These concentrated liquids are popular among medical marijuana patients though they can be very strong. A single drop is often all that is needed for a drink.
  • Cannabis bitters. Just like the bitters we use often in the bar, these too are very concentrated and a few dashes go a long way.

Instructions for creating all of these ingredients are included in Bobrow’s book.

How Do Cannabis Drinks Taste?

If you have any experience with cannabis, then you will have an idea of its unique flavor. It will add an herbal undertone to any drink you mix it into, no matter the ingredient you use.

The exact flavor will vary greatly with the strain of cannabis you use. In general, it can be likened to a bright green and leafy, yet floral herb. With alcohol—even in a tincture—it can almost have a sunflower-like flavor.

Cannabis will mix well with a variety of ingredients and most liquors. It’s a surprisingly versatile flavor pairing.

If you would like to taste cannabis in alcohol without homemade infusions or the THC high, Humboldt Distillery’s Humboldt’s Finest Vodka is the best choice to date. It is made from hemp and is THC-free, which is why it is legal in all states, though distribution remains limited.

Cannabis cocktails and drinks are becoming popular as more states legalize marijuana. Discover essential tips for mixing cannabis into your drinks.

These Cannabis-Infused Cocktail Recipes Are Worth a High Five

Of all the holidays out there, little needs to be said about 4/20. If you’re curious about the history of the day, you can read about that here, but for most of you out there, you’re either high already or getting ready to relax for a bit (as long as it’s legal to do so in your state).

Regardless of where you are in the process, you might be thinking,“Gee, I wish I could have my pot and drink it, too.” Well, you can.

Below, you’ll find a recipe for cannabis-infused bourbon as well as four cocktail recipes — including a legal CBD (cannabidiol) oil mix — from the folks at Los Angeles-based distillery Stillhouse Spirits that’ll ensure that every facet of you as a person is calm and feeling good by the end of the day.

Never infused liquor with marijuana before? Don’t worry. We’ve got all of the steps for that right here (again, courtesy of Stillhouse — they’re watching out for you). If you’ve done it before, feel free to scroll to the bottom and get mixing!

Cannabis-Infused Stillhouse Black Bourbon

Ingredients:

  • 750 ml Stillhouse Black Bourbon
  • 7 g of cannabis Flower

Tools:

  • A grinder
  • A hot plate or electric stove (never a gas stove or open flame)
  • Microwave or oven
  • Cheesecloth
  • Thermometer
  • Double boiler
  • Mason jar

Method:

  1. In the microwave: Be sure to place the cannabis in the microwave with a lid. Microwave on high for 90 seconds. Rotate the cannabis. Repeat three times. In the oven: Preheat the oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cannabis in a single layer on either a Pyrex tray or sheet of foil. Cover the cannabis tightly. Bake for 20 minutes.
  2. Grind up your decarbed herbs into a mason jar and add bourbon (The ratio between cannabis and whiskey is dependent on what potency level you want to achieve. Fleming suggests 7 grams per 750 ml of Stillhouse Black bourbon.).
  3. Place the mason jar on top of the double boiler. Fill the bottom and top pans with water to cover the mason jar approximately half way. Do not allow direct heat and do not cover the mason jar to avoid hazardous pressure. Remember, no open flames and make sure the room is well-ventilated.
  4. Simmer lightly at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how concentrated you would like your infusion. Make sure your alcohol does not reach 170 degrees Fahrenheit (it will flame).
  5. Let the mixture cool and strain it through a fine mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth. Then return it back to the 750 ml bottle along with the remaining alcohol.

Note: If you’d prefer to not use the boiler, there is another method that requires way less concentration, but way more patience. Simply choose your ratio (again, Fleming suggests 7 grams per 750 ml alcohol) and mix it in a mason jar, lid on. Put the mason jar in front of a sunny window and let the jar sit for at least 30 days. When time is up, strain your mixture through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer.

Cocktail Recipes

Green Derby

  • 1 oz infused Stillhouse Black Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • .5 oz fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)
  • Soda water to top
  • Grapefruit to garnish

Method: Shake with ice. Pour over fresh ice in a Collins or 12 oz glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a slice of fresh grapefruit.

Fresh Start

  • 1 oz infused Stillhouse Black Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar)
  • Fresh mint
  • Soda water to top

Method: In a Collins or other 12 oz glass, combine fresh mint, lime juice, simple syrup, and the infused bourbon. Muddle the ingredients. Add fresh ice. Top off with soda water. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

Lazy Day

  • 1 oz infused Stillhouse Black Bourbon
  • 1 oz Carpano Antica (or similar sweet vermouth)
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Orange to garnish

Method: Stir in a mixing glass with ice and then strain over fresh ice or up depending on your preference. If served up a coupe or similar glass is preferable, and if served on the rocks a classic old fashioned glass is perfect. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

CB-Tea

  • 2 oz Stillhouse Peach Tea Whiskey
  • 10-15 drops of high-grade CBD oil
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh lemonade to top

Method: In a Collins or other 12 oz glass, combine mint with Stillhouse Peach Tea and muddle. Add the CBD oil (a substance legal throughout the country), fresh ice, and top off with lemonade. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

Need some gear to celebrate 420? Our friends over at Grenco Science are offering a sweet sale between Monday, April 16 and Sunday, April 22. Use the code ‘THEMANUAL’ for an additional 5 percent off this Santa Cruz Grinder. We’re also fans of the G Pen Pro Vaporizer and the G Pen Elite Vaporizer.

You can have your pot and drink it too. Stillhouse Spirits teaches us how to make cannabis-infused bourbon and shares four easy CBD cocktail recipes. ]]>