Is Cannabis the Next Big Cocktail Trend?

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Chill Wave (image: Crystal Sykes)

Guys, it’s 4/20, and if you’re in a few special parts of the country, you can celebrate this “holiday” stress-free. And if you can, why not celebrate with a cocktail?

The sort-of legalization of marijuana in some states has opened up a huge culinary take on the plant. From your average homemade pot brownies to cannabis-infused olive oil to weed-infused foie gras, this particular ingredient has been able to climb up the social ladder in the food world. It wouldn’t take long for the alcohol business to catch up, and now there are a few cannabis-inspired spirits on the market (even though it may be hard to grab a bottle yourself), such as cannabis absinthe in Europe and Humboldt’s Finest, a hemp-infused vodka from California’s weed-topia, Humboldt County. (Before running to your local liquor store, note that these spirits are cannabis flavored, not infused.)

However, you don’t have to go on a manhunt to track these bottles down. Making your own cannabis-infused liquor that’ll give you a buzz in two ways isn’t as hard as you think. And you can then use that liquor to make cocktails like the Chill Wave and Lucy Colada. But first, someone has to say it: As always, drink responsibly (and legally).

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image: rezkrr

What you’ll need:

  • Cannabis
  • Whip cream whipper
  • Alcohol (something clear, like a white rum, vodka, gin, blanco tequila or mezcal)
  • 2 nitrous-oxide chargers
  • Double boiler large enough to fit the whipper bottle
  • Cheesecloth or fine-mesh strainer
  • Bottle or mason jar

Part 1: Decarboxylation

Decarboxy-what? As mentioned above, buying a cannabis-flavored spirit doesn’t mean it’s going to have the effect you may be looking for. So an important step in making sure you feel the high, not just taste the bud, is decarboxylating, or decarbing, your cannabis. This is the process whereby the nonpsychoactive THCA molecule in raw cannabis loses its carboxylic group (COOH) and becomes psychoactive THC.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 240°F.
  • Spread out cannabis onto a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Break up larger clumps for easier pouring into infusion vessels.

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image: eskymaks

Part 2: Infusion

While the decarbing step is pretty straightforward, the infusion method offers different paths that could be followed. One of the popular ways to achieve a clean infusion is with a whip cream whipper:

Directions:

  • Place cannabis and the spirit in the whipper.
  • Seal tight and charge with one canister of N2O according to the instructions.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Vent out the pressurized gas.
  • Repeat with second N2O canister.
  • Stir the mixture to dispel remaining grass and let sit for a couple of minutes.
  • Place sealed container in a double boiler and let simmer for an hour.
  • Fine-strain the solids out of the liquid and throw away.
  • Bottle the remaining liquid and enjoy in cocktails or alone.

Don’t have a whipper? You can still infuse the old-fashioned way of steeping decarbed pot into your mason jar of booze and waiting a few days. The result may be a cloudy spirit, but unless you’re making Martinis, it shouldn’t matter. Here’s something for sous vide enthusiasts, and if you just need a tiny drop, making weed tinctures isn’t that hard either.

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