California’s hottest new cocktail craze involves CBD oil derived from cannabis, and it’s certainly making an impression on bartenders.
Following decades of contentious attitudes toward the plant, America’s attitude is starting to shift. Sixty-one percent of the population now believes that cannabis should be legalized, and 10 states, as well as the District of Columbia, already allow recreational use of cannabis. It is in these states, particularly California, that bartenders and industry professionals have began to take advantage of this new substance.
“CBD provides an irreplaceable herbaceous note, specifically of cannabis, that hasn’t been accessible in this space before.”
– Chris Amirault, bar manager at Otium in Los Angeles
“Particularly in cocktails, outside of chartreuse, there haven’t been many ways for bartenders to tap into this type of herbal flavor profile, CBD has created a new avenue for us to explore and create a conversation around.”
This presents an important distinction that most newcomers to the movement may have trouble discerning: There is a stark difference between THC and CBD. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the principal psychoactive constituent in cannabis and was classified as a Schedule I substance in 1971. It has yet to become a mainstream additive to cocktails. For bartenders, especially those at Otium, it’s CBD that holds their attention.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis. It can be supplied as an oil without any THC, which is what Otium uses in its cocktails. The challenge of mixing it into the bar’s drinks didn’t have anything to do with getting patrons high; it was all about flavor and, especially, texture. Amirault says, “We were able to create a recipe that incorporated the CBD flavor, while staying true to the mouthfeel and vibe of a traditional Negroni … from there, the Pineapple Express was born.”
Amirault says that the reaction to his first menu of CBD cocktails released, fittingly, on April 20th of this year, was “overwhelmingly positive.” Otium sold almost 140 CBD cocktails the first night they were featured. “There are some people who come specifically to try out the drinks, and some who are visiting the area and have no idea what CBD oil is and why we’re using it in drinks. Overall, it has been a great conversation piece between me and guests and adds a whole different element to my conversations with them.”
When asked about the future, Amirault says that there is certainly a demand for CBD, and perhaps THC as well.
“It’s clear that the world is ready to jump in and embrace the growing cannabis culture.”
There’s no doubt that it will be interesting to see how the substance changes the landscape of food and beverage. For now, Amirault and his staff are happy to be at the forefront of an exciting new movement.
- 1.25 oz. Sipsmith Gin
- 1 oz. pineapple-infused Campari
- .5 oz. Cocchi Vermouth Di Torrino
- .25 oz. vanilla cordial
- 1 full dropper H. Hemp Company CBD Oil
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass; stir until proper dilution. Strain into a double Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist.