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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.

How To Make Cannabis Lemonade & Iced Tea

Summertime is definitely lemonade season!

The hot summer months have many people reaching for a cool, refreshing glass of lemonade or iced tea to cool them down. But why not kick it up a notch by reaching for a mind-blowing glass of cannabis infused lemonade instead?

Why Cannabis Drinks?

Cannabis drinks are a refreshing way to pass the time during the hot summer months. Give your lungs a break and try out an infused beverage instead. Cannabis drinks can give you all of the high, with none of the smoke.

When many people think of baking edibles at home, they think of a long, messy, smelly process that requires both time and effort. But by comparison, cannabis drinks are actually quite easy to make and can be enjoyed much more quickly than edibles.

And, if you’re really feeling adventurous, they can even be mixed or made with cannabis-infused alcohol for a real mind-blowing experience.

Check out these two recipes for cannabis drinks that you can enjoy this summer!

Cannabis-Infused Lemonade

The easiest way to brew cannabis-infused lemonade is by mixing some THC tincture into your favorite lemonade recipe. Just load up the dropper and squirt your desired amount directly into some homemade lemonade.

Try out this recipe for some quick, easy, and refreshing summertime lemonade!

You will need: 6-8 lemons (about 0.5L of lemon juice), 1.35L cold water, 200–250g of sugar, and 2-3 tsp. of cannabis tincture.

  1. Start by juicing the lemons. An electric juicer will help you to squeeze out every last drop of liquid gold!
  2. Mix lemon juice with sugar and water in a glass pitcher stirring well in order to ensure that all sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add your tincture while being mindful of dosage. Mix well.

Want to kick it up even further? Try using cannabis-infused vodka instead of tincture for a real wild ride.

Making Cannabis-Infused Iced Teas

Cannabis tincture can also be used to make infused iced tea. While easy to prepare, the bitter taste of tincture does not pair as well with tea as it does with lemonade. Using infused honey instead will result in a much better tasting batch of iced tea, with just a little more work.

To make cannabis honey-infused iced tea you will need: 6 cups water, 6 teabags of your choice (or 3+ tablespoons of loose leaf tea), ½ – ⅓ cup of all-natural honey,

In order to brew this tea, start by preparing the infused honey

  1. Place half a cup of water and ½ – ⅓ cup of all-natural honey in a small saucepan and set to medium heat
  2. Add in the amount of tincture you’d like to infuse your honey with. Keep in mind, that the honey will be used for several teas or other recipes, so you want to add 3 or 4 doses (depending on how sweet you like your tea!)
  3. Once the mixture reaches 150℉, stir until all the honey is dissolved into the water
  4. Pour into a glass container and place in the refrigerator for 12 hours in order to solidify

When the infused honey is ready for use, simply brew up a batch of your favorite tea and use spoonfuls of honey to infuse and sweeten it. If you’re feeling adventurous you should try adding sliced fruit to your iced tea for extra flavor. Sliced strawberries, peaches, and lemons go great with cannabis-infused iced tea.

You can also grab already prepared cannabis drinks at your favorite Sherman Oaks dispensary. Check out our online menu to see what’s available and to place your order.

Liven up your summer with some cannabis drinks! Find out how to quickly brew up some refreshing cannabis infused lemonade and cannabis infused iced tea!