Currently, the North American region is slowly but surely disposing of negative connotations surrounding the use of cannabis in a bartender’s cocktail-creating arsenal.
“We’ve just scratched the surface in the CBD-infused spirits and cocktail market,” says Ted Dumbauld, founder of SoNo 1420, an American Craft Distillery creating handcrafted hemp-infused spirits. “A small but rapidly growing segment of the market has begun experimenting with and learning to enjoy both the flavors and mood enrichments associated with coupling alcohol and CBD. As this trend continues, we expect to see significant growth in this category.”
What should bartenders know about mixing with cannabis?
In some areas of the country, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance found in cannabis, is illegal. Here’s where science works around that issue. The second most prevalent active cannabis ingredient is a more “innocent” component, in the sense that you don’t get the same high effect as with THC. CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol, is the absolute loophole for areas where cannabis-infused drinks wouldn’t normally fly.
While still being a derivative of hemp, a cousinly plant to cannabis, CBD is found to be much more ethical and safe with plenty of room to work with in terms of mixology demographics. On top of that, it has several positive bodily effects, including pain relief, reduction of anxiety, depression, and even alleviation of cancer-related symptoms. Because of these health benefits, CBD sales in the U.S. are projected to hit as high as $22 billion by 2022, up from $262 million in 2016.
“Here’s this plant that has not been able to be cultivated in the United States for almost 80 years. One of the products coming off of the plant are hemp seeds, which are not too dissimilar from grains that are used to make whiskey,” explains Dumbauld. “I thought I’d be able to use those hemp seeds to make very interesting, different-tasting whiskey. Hemp seeds are an oilseed, so compared to the standard grains, this oilseed has a much fuller mouthfeel.”
SoNo 1420’s bartender Blake Poon takes full advantage of the CBD trend, serving cocktails with CBD floaters and a CBD-infused Negroni to his customers. The key ingredient found in the beverage is Sindica Midnight New American Gin, which is vapor infused with a medley of botanicals, specifically selected not for their taste profiles, but their terpenes (aroma and taste molecules found in the essential oils of plants).
Beyond CBD-Infused Spirits, How-To Make CBD Cocktails:
As CBD is progressively finding its way into more bars across the nation, certain brands are looking to develop the perfect additive for mixed drinks. One company, called ROOT 66 offers CBD oils that can be used in a list of countless cocktails. The main reason being that the oil is devoid of a scent or taste, completely concealing itself when present. So, no hindrance to the cocktail’s inherent properties with numerous positive health benefits? Count us in!
As of May 2019, 33 states legalized medical cannabis, and ten states have started to allow it for adult use. Courtesy of these changes, new alarming predictions for the edible market are beginning to surface. By only 2022, it is believed this market will quadruple in worth, totaling a whopping four billion dollars.
While edibles aren’t entirely in the same boat as cannabis-infused cocktails, their concepts are parallel. It’s safe to say that those who have already enjoyed cannabis combined with food would also fancy it mixed in drinks. Therefore, a gold mine may be waiting for bartenders to tap into.
A business that is already actively pursuing the exploitation of the “edi-beverage” market is Tinley Beverage Company, with a delicious way to indulge in the smoke-free benefits of cannabis. Their Tinley Tonics and Tinley ’27 Elixirs are crafted to taste identical to your favorite mixed drinks, with an extra kick. With each serving comes an added 5mg micro-dose of premium Pineapple Jack Sativa THC. The fast-acting dose triggers euphoric effects within a swift 15 minutes. Sip, sip, give.
Berry Mint Julep
Created by SoNo 1420 bartender Blake Poon
- 2 oz. SoNo 1420 Hemped BBN
- 1 oz. Blackberry Puree
- 3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. mint syrup*
- 4-5 mint leaves
Preparation: Muddle mint leaves with syrup in shaker. Add remaining ingredients, shake and strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass.
Bring simple syrup (1:1) to a boil with a bunch of mint. Set aside to cool, remove mint.