- Follow the stories of 6 creative bartenders, who are finding more and more ways to include CBD oil into their standard cocktail menus.
- Author: ” Already we are seeing CBD pairing dinners, terpenes, cooking with THC. Most of these chefs, bartenders, and creatives have been working on this stuff for years in secret, and now they’re unleashing their creations onto the population and people love it.”
When West Hollywood vegan eatery Gracias Madre first introduced CBD cocktails to their beverage program in 2016, it was a risk. A big risk, considering the stigma of cannabis and the many unknowns surrounding the legality, perception, and applications of cannabidiol in Prohibition-era Los Angeles.
More than two years later, after the landmark legalization of recreational marijuana in January 2018, Gracias Madre is no longer the only restaurant offering cocktails that incorporate this non-psychoactive cannabis compound. Trailblazing bartenders up and down the state of California are rushing to embrace CBD as a way of making their cocktails unique, healthy, and hangover-free. CBD cocktails may not be on every bar menu—but according to some of the bartenders working with this cannabis oil, it could be in the future.
High Times spoke to six California bartenders using CBD behind the bar. Here’s what they had to say about venturing into the uncharted territory of cannabis-enhanced cocktails.
Otium (Downtown LA)
CBD cocktails: The Blue Dream, made with CBD oil, rum, curacao, lime, and vanilla, and the Pineapple Express, which pairs CBD oil with gin, pineapple Campari, and coconut.
Chris Amirault is the Bar Director at DTLA’s Otium, located next to The Broad Museum. Amirault’s cocktails first starting earning him recognition after he opened West Hollywood cocktail bar Harlowe in 2014; his work here earned Amirault inclusion on Zagat’s “30 Under 30” list and consulting projects with Idle Hour, Clifton’s Cafeteria, and Bar Tribute. At Otium, Amirault works with Chef Tim Hollingsworth to build whimsical, culinary-driven cocktails that use inventive flavors, textures, and ingredients—including CBD oil—to elevate and inspire modern twists on classic drink recipes.
“A lot of us [bar directors] used to be afraid to mess with CBD because of the stigma associated with ‘weed cocktails’ and not fully understanding what it was. Then January first hit and everyone I knew was hitting up the new stores for buds, edibles, pens… basically anything with cannabis in it. I think for me it showed that there wasn’t a lot of fear anymore surrounding cannabis. We’ve had at least two CBD cocktails on the menu since.
Already we are seeing CBD pairing dinners, terpenes, cooking with THC. Most of these chefs, bartenders, and creatives have been working on this stuff for years in secret, and now they’re unleashing their creations onto the population and people love it. I only see the role of cannabis-based products becoming more and more involved in kitchens and bars.”
Madison on Park (San Diego)
CBD cocktail: The Mr. Nice Guy—a tropical cocktail that combines CBD oil with mezcal, matcha, pineapple, coconut milk, and lime.
A San Diego restaurant veteran formerly of Blue Point and Single Fin, Bar Manager Danny Kuehner now helms the cocktail program at Madison on Park—a San Diego restaurant proving that the CBD oil trend goes beyond Los Angeles. Located in the University Heights neighborhood, Madison is known for its cedar wood design, Mediterranean plates, and cocktails—including the Mr. Nice Guy, Keuhner’s signature Tiki-inspired CBD cocktail. In fact, CBD is just another way in which Madison on Park, awarded ‘Best Design‘ and ‘Best Cocktails‘ in both 2017 and 2018 by San Diego Magazine, is helping to reshape the San Diego culinary landscape.
“Guests gravitate towards interesting ingredients; especially ones that are scientifically proven to be good for you. The smell of CBD or cannabis can be intensely nostalgic for some people. That’s the ultimate experience. I think it’s great to be able to offer customers more of the things they want as well as giving us more tools to utilize in creating lasting experiences.
In the future I see really talented people using CBD and cannabis-based products in new, interesting, and creative ways. It’s a very exciting time.”
Bluebird Brasserie (Sherman Oaks)
CBD cocktail: The Gentle Monk, a Citadelle gin-based vegan cocktail inspired by both a vesper and a sour. The drink is made with Italicus, Cocchi Rosa Americano, lemon, orange, St. George absinthe, and CBD oil, and use aquafaba (chickpea brine) instead of egg white foam in order to keep the cocktail vegan.
Assistant General Manager Lisanne Magnus is in charge of the cocktail program at Bluebird…