CBD cocktails, with or without alcohol, are all the buzz in some East and West Coast cities with relaxed recreational cannabis laws. You don’t have to take a trip to LA to enjoy the flavor and effects of a cannabis-infused beverage, though. If it’s legal in your state, you can make your own cannabidiol (CBD) imbibables at home.
Cannabis Mixology 101: Basic Precautions and Knowledge
One of the most important things to remember about CBD cocktails is that, even though you drink them, they’re an “edible.” That means that your body reacts differently than it does to inhaled CBD. In general, the effects take longer to hit, and last longer. Because of that, Warren Bobrow, who wrote Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics, recommends limiting yourself to no more than one CBD cocktail per hour, or to play it safe, one CBD-infused drink per night. Beyond that, Bobrow also suggests that you pay attention to which strain of weed you choose as a base for your infusions or tinctures. It will make a difference in both the effect and the finished flavor of your drink.
Infusion or Tincture — Which Is Best for CBD Cocktails?
There are several different ways to combine weed and alcohol, but the two most popular are through an infusion or a tincture. According to Mountain Rose Herbs, a tincture is a concentrated herbal extract that uses alcohol as a solvent. An infusion is a concentrated herbal extract that uses just about any other type of solvent. Coconut oil is a popular alternative for cannabis infusion because of the mild sweetness and nutty flavor it adds to the mix. As far as which is best, that’s a personal preference. Alcohol-based CBD tinctures infuse the flavor of the herb throughout the entire drink, while oil- or glycerin-based infusions tend to float on the surface, adding a nuanced grassy or citrus-y aroma and flavor note with each sip. Bobrow suggests experimenting with different techniques to find out what works best for you.
How to Make Cannabis Tinctures
Making CBD tincture isn’t quite as simple as soaking bud in alcohol. Most cannabis tincture recipes start with decarboxylation, or decarbing, for short. Basically, you have to apply heat to the weed in order to unlock the relaxing effects of the THC in it. The simplest way to do it is to bake your bud in a low (240 F) oven for about an hour, or you can use the microwave decarbing method. Here’s the CBD tincture recipe provided by Stillhouse Black Bourbon — substitute your choice of alcohol for different flavor profiles.
- 750 ml of whiskey or other liquor
- 7g of cannabis flower
Decarb the weed by giving it three 90-second turns in the microwave, or by baking it in the oven as described above. Grind the decarbed weed to a very fine grind. Put the herb and alcohol in a mason jar. From here, you can do things by the quick method — or the patient method. For what it’s worth, the patient method comes with a lot fewer safety precautions!
The Quick Method to Make Cannabis Tincture
Place the uncovered mason jar in the top of a double boiler on an electric stove. Do not use an open flame.Fill the the pot with water up to the middle of the mason jar. Simmer for 30-60 minutes at about 160 F. The longer it simmers, the stronger the tincture will be. Monitor the temperature carefully using a candy or digital thermometer. Alcohol will ignite at temperatures above 170 F. Let the tincture cool, then strain through a cheesecloth to remove the vegetable material.
The Take-Your-Time Cannabis Tincture Method
Cover the mason jar and give it a good shake. Put the jar in a sunny window and let it sit for at least a month. Give it a shake every few days to mix the weed with the alcohol. After 30 days, strain your tincture through cheesecloth as above.
You now have your own cannabis tincture that you can add to mixed drinks like:
Lazy Day (courtesy of Stillhouse Black Bourbon)
Ingredients: 1 oz. Stillhouse infused Black Bourbon. 1 oz. Carpano Antica (or similar Sweet Vermouth). 1 oz. Campari. 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters. Prepare: Stir in a mixing glass with ice and then strain over fresh ice or up depending on your preference.
Pot Manhattan (courtesy Food & Wine)
Ingredients: 2 oz. cannabis-infused Rye Whiskey. 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth. Dash of Angostura bitters. Prepare: Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill it with ice. Stir, strain (preferably into a chilled coupe glass) and enjoy.
CBD-Infused Drinks to Try
Not ready to mix alcohol with CBD? Virgin CBD cocktails and mocktails contain no booze and rely on simple CBD infusions. One of the easiest ways to create your own is to make CBD-infused simple syrup to use as a sweetener in drinks like CBD-infused lemonade.
How to Make Canna Syrup
- 2 g finely ground cannabis
- 3 cups extra fine granulated sugar
- 3 cups filtered water
- 2 Tbsp vegetable glycerin (you can buy it at CVS!)
Mix the water and sugar together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, then add the cannabis to the mixture. Cover the pot and let the cannabis mixture simmer on low for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the vegetable glycerin to the pot. Let it simmer for another five to six minutes, stirring every minute or so to prevent scorching the syrup. Strain the hot syrup through fine cheesecloth into a mason jar or other container. Keep refrigerated.
The ways to use CBD-infused syrup in drinks is limited only by your own imagination. Try substituting it in any drink recipe that calls for simple syrup, or give this CBD Lemonade Spritzer a whirl.
CBD Lemonade Spritzer
- 1 cup CBD-infused simple syrup
- 4 cups water
- 6 lemons, juiced
- 1 cup seltzer
Mix all the ingredients together in a large pitcher and serve over ice. For a little extra zest, try muddling a couple of basil or mint leaves in the bottom of the glass, add the spritzer and garnish with a fresh herb leaf. For a different twist, use plain simple syrup and sweeten with CBD-infused honey.
Finally, be aware of the laws in your state. Making your own CBD drinks at home may or may not be legal, even if your state has legalized recreational pot use.