It seems like every time you enter a dispensary, there is a brand-new way to consume cannabis. Whether it is an edible in homage to a favorite snack food, or a tiny discreet vaporizer, there is no lack of creativity in product development.
One of the latest trends in recreational cannabis consumption is less inspired by exotic creativity and scientific achievement; it’s derived from hundreds of years of mixing and shaking behind the dark mahogany bars of the world.
The cannabis cocktail is quickly gaining popularity as a fun and effective way to ingest CBD or THC. Retail beverages like THC seltzers are available in recreational dispensaries nationwide, and they are exploding in popularity.
These retail beverages are a popular way to enjoy marijuana, but some enthusiasts are turning the concept of drinking cannabis into its highest art form — the crafted cocktail. By savoring cannabis through a straw, a union has formed between budtender and bartender, and the result is delicious.
Marijuana mixology can be approached in many ways. There are cocktails with strong spirits and alcohol-free elixirs, just as there are libations -infused with THC while others use only CBD derived without THC. All variations will affect the way the consumer feels an hour later, but in crafting these modern classics, the flavor comes down to the same balancing techniques used in any classic cocktail.
Successful mixology is the art of balancing a cocktail’s key components, which, according to Diageo Bar Academy, are sweet, sour, bitter, saltiness, temperature, texture and alcohol (or the lack thereof). Cannabis cocktail experimentation maintains the same balancing act, but adds the very specific flavor profile of marijuana. Although the perfect balance for a great cocktail can be found using an array of different specific ingredients, certain flavors are already beginning to stand out as favorites.
Citrus flavors like grapefruit, lemon and lime are among the most common popular ingredients in many cannabis cocktail recipes. Grapefruit drinks, like Wunder’s Grapefruit Hibiscus sparkling — its most popular and award-winning flavor, according to Popsugar — are sought-after flavors. Its bright acidity and slight bitterness likely helps compliment the flavor of the cannabis while also balancing the flavor profile of the overall drink.
Most cocktails play with the herbaceous flavor of cannabis rather than trying to completely mask that flavor, which is perhaps why other herbs are finding their way into these new drinks. Basil, cilantro, rosemary and even tea extracts have all been folded into different recipes. Hollywood Mixologist Maxwell Reis summed up the importance of cannabis flavor in these drinks when he told Goop in an interview that his CBD cocktails can “impart a unique flavor to any cocktail that could use some vegetal nuance.”
For cocktails with THC but no alcohol, one trend is the use of tranquil flavors reminiscent of spa relaxation. Notes of cucumber, aloe and even watermelon are infused to alcohol-free elixirs to bring more tranquility to the already relaxed beverage.
“The flavor reminds the consumer of a healthy space, perhaps yoga, the spa, or vacation,” Michelle Sundquist, director of innovation and product design, told Cannabis Products.
Although it is true that great cocktails, new and old, come down to the perfect balancing of spirit, sweet, sour and bitter and salty, there is creativity and achievement to be made in this new, exciting and delicious realm of marijuana mixology.