Have you toyed with the thought of adding cannabis to your cocktails? Since countries like Canada and 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. Cannabis drinks are not all about a new way to get high, either. Many cannabis users are interested in them for their medicinal benefits.
THC and CBD
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 marijuana “high,” while CBD has no psychoactive effect but is instead promoted for its medicinal benefits.
Marijuana contains both THC and CBD (along with hundreds of other compounds), and the value of each varies from one marijuana strain to the next. CBD is also derived from hemp, an entirely different cannabis plant that does not contain THC. There are cannabis products that contain both compounds, CBD with only traces of THC, or hemp-derived CBD alone.
Marijuana and Alcohol Precautions
The clear facts are that marijuana will get you high, and alcohol can get you drunk. Both are sedatives, but they cause different reactions within the body, and that is where the concern lies.
Those who drink know that liquor can hit you rather quickly. Like edibles, it takes longer to feel the effects of cannabis “drinkables” than when smoking marijuana. Depending on your personal metabolism, regularity of use, and other factors, it can take an hour or two to feel the high from a marijuana-infused drink. The feeling can also last longer or be more intense than you might expect or necessarily enjoy. It is not uncommon for drinkers to feel high for five to six hours; some report feeling its effects into the next day or experiencing a level of paranoia not typical of normal marijuana use. While that applies to THC, some people experience drowsiness and other less intense effects with CBD-only cocktail ingredients.
These concerns and conversations extend into the bartending community because some bars in states where recreational cannabis is legal are serving cannabis cocktails. The majority use CBD oil for its taste. Though the laws are continually changing, it is illegal in most countries to combine THC and alcohol for commercial purposes, whether in bars or alcoholic products like beer, liquor, and wine. In products like cannawine, hemp seeds are used for flavor.
f you’re trying to avoid fats like milk and oil, you can try out the cannabis-infused alcohol tincture method we mentioned earlier through one of two ways. The first way, as previously mentioned, is to place drops of the tincture under your tongue. However, it can also be combined in a blender with freshly squeezed lemon juice, water, and honey or sugar to craft a cannabis lemonade that’s equal parts sweet, tart, and dank.
Use about two tablespoons of cannabis tincture for every ¼ cup of lemon juice, along with 1 ¾ cups water and 1/3 cup of sugar or natural honey. You can even go the extra mile, if you want further flavor definition, and slice up some strawberries to go along with the beverage. Strawberry lemonade is a refreshing beverage that can be infused to provide a medicinal, relaxing effect for the whole day.
What is your favorite cannabis-infused beverage flavor combination? Do you prefer cannabis drinks in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Hopefully these ideas will help you create your very own cannabis drink idea, propelling past ordinary edibles forever more. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
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 or the dose of CBD, and the potency of the drink itself become key factors. No one can tell you how any drink is going to affect you.
In his book, “Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics,” Warren Bobrow (aka the “Cocktail Whisperer”) takes the apothecary approach and offers excellent advice for easing into cannabis drinks. Bobrow is well-experienced in mixing cannabis and alcohol and could be considered the go-to “authority” in the canna cocktail world. When speaking with him, you really understand his expertise in this topic, so his advice should not go unheeded.
Overall, the message is to take it low and slow. Due to the unpredictability of cannabis drinks, Bobrow offers these precautions:
- Start with nonalcoholic drinks and small dosages of cannabis-infused ingredients such as creamers, syrups, and tinctures. It can be something as simple as Bobrow’s Turkish coffee recipe, which uses a dollop of cannabutter in a take on Vietnamese coffee. You can also add a dose of cannabis tincture to a glass of soda or ease into it with CBD tea.
- When and if you begin to experiment with cannabis cocktails, follow a proven recipe from a reputable source, like those in Bobrow’s book. Do not stray from the recipe or overpour the liquor or cannabis ingredient until you know how it affects you.
- Drink your first canna drinks in a safe environment such as your home, just in case you get too high or drowsy. Do not drive; it is not only illegal but also unsafe.
- 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 and give it a few hours.
- Limit how many cannabis drinks you have each day. Bobrow recommends playing it safe and sticking with a single infused drink per night.
How do cannabis drinks taste?
If you have any experience with cannabis, then you already have an idea of its unique flavor. No matter the cannabis ingredient, it adds an herbal undertone to any drink you mix it into.
The exact flavor will vary with the strain of cannabis. In general, the taste can be likened to a bright green and leafy, floral herb. With alcohol—even in a tincture—it can have a sunflower-like flavor.
Cannabis is a surprisingly versatile flavor pairing that mixes well with a variety of ingredients and most liquors. It’s worth exploring how it tastes with fruits, cream, sweets like chocolate, and other herbal ingredients.