With seven states in the US now allowing free and open sale of marijuana, adventurous wine makers and mixologists are experimenting with what to accompany your grass with
Article by Louise McGuane
When you make whiskey for a living, it is important to stay on top of up and coming drinking trends. High end drinking culture very often mirrors what is going around us in society. Occasionally though there is a trend that breaks though that reflects quite clearly something major going on. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the US recently as I’m launching our whiskey J.J. Corry there in September. The last few years there has seen a sea change in legislation around cannabis, with seven states now allowing free and open sale of marijuana for recreational use. This has resulted in several sophisticated spin-off cottage industries.
Now that marijuana is out in the open, in true American style it’s time to monetize it properly and the ‘Green Rush’ is well and truly on with sales of legal Marijuana set to hit over $7 billion dollars this year. Cannabis edibles have been around for a long time, surely everyone had a college friend who prided themselves on making Pot Brownies. With the rise of legalisation, the category has come of age. LA based Marigold Sweets makes luxury ethically sourced chocolate confectionary beautifully packaged infused with up to 15 grams of THC per piece. This same trend can be seen in the emerging ‘Drinkables’ category.
Vegan Restaurant Gracias Madras in Los Angeles serves a menu of cannabidiol-containing cocktails created by industry veteran mixologist Jason Eisner. These cocktails are infused with Cannabidiol or ‘CBD’ for short—CBD is a cannabinoid, one of the many chemical compounds found in cannabis, but unlike THC, the cannaboid that when burned makes you high, CBD offers therapeutic benefits without the same mind-altering effects.
Their cocktail line-up includes The Sour T-iesel meanwhile a twist on a Tequila sour, comprising Tequila, lime agave nectar, mint, sage leaves, Aquafaba (vegan equivalent of egg white), a dash of CBD and Matcha green tea powder dusted in the shape of a cannabis leaf. Lastly is the Rolled Fashioned, made with Bourbon, Mezcal Anejo, cinnamon, sarsaparilla syrup, Peruvian tree bark, vanilla bean, star anise and a dash of CBD. It’s served with a vegan churro. All will set you back between $20 and $25 dollars each.
There is now a bourgeoning sub-category of high end wine. Know Wine retails for around $140. It is produced by taking a pound of Marajuana dropping it in a cask of Californian biodynamic wine and letting it sit for about a year. Canna Vine is made in a similar way and both companies maintain that this particular method of delivery allows drinkers to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of marijuana rather than the phycoactive ones.
If wine pairing is your thing Cannavinus bills itself as The Perfect Wine for the Cannabis Lover. I got to try this one a few weeks ago at a trade show and it’s quite sweet, which when you think about it, is about right…. It contains no cannaboids rather its designed to sip along with your favourite strain you happen to be smoking that week.
This trend of course has its novelty value, and there is some concern among mixologists in particular that once it hits the mainstream it could go badly wrong. Overindulgence on alcohol is one thing, but combine that with THC a more potent cannaboid readily confused with CBD and you could be in trouble. Nevertheless, we can expect this trend to get a lot bigger and to begin to creep into Craft Beer and inch its way towards the mainstream. As cannabis consumption comes out of the dark and is normalised the temptation to experiment will be too good to pass up for brewers, winemakers, distillers and mixologists.
For now though you’ll have to head to select states in the US to experience it as any of the above would be technically illegal in most countries. Should you wish to read more you could always hit up Amazon and peruse the many cocktail books on the subject. I can recommend Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations by Jakob N Layman.