Marijuana and Alcohol Precautions
The clear facts are that marijuana will get you high, and alcohol can get you drunk. Both are sedatives, but they cause different reactions within the body, and that is where the concern lies.
Those who drink know that liquor can hit you rather quickly. Like edibles, it takes longer to feel the effects of cannabis “drinkables” than when smoking marijuana. Depending on your personal metabolism, regularity of use, and other factors, it can take an hour or two to feel the high from a marijuana-infused drink. The feeling can also last longer or be more intense than you might expect or necessarily enjoy. It is not uncommon for drinkers to feel high for five to six hours; some report feeling its effects into the next day or experiencing a level of paranoia not typical of normal marijuana use. While that applies to THC, some people experience drowsiness and other less intense effects with CBD-only cocktail ingredients.
These concerns and conversations extend into the bartending community because some bars in states where recreational cannabis is legal are serving cannabis cocktails. The majority use CBD oil for its taste. Though the laws are continually changing, it is illegal in most countries to combine THC and alcohol for commercial purposes, whether in bars or alcoholic products like beer, liquor, and wine. In products like cannawine, hemp seeds are used for flavor.
Creating Cannabis-Infused Mixers
There are several ways to get cannabis into your drinks. Where marijuana is legal, many of these can be homemade, though the potency and dose required will vary with each batch. Dispensaries may also offer these ingredients and have a better ability to control potency.
Before you can add cannabis to drink ingredients, it needs to be decarboxylated (“decarbed,” for short). This is because the active compounds in marijuana only become active with heat, which is why smoking is so effective. Decarbing is easy and can be done in your kitchen. It is, however, a pungent process. If you are concerned about neighbors or visitors, you will need to take precautions or select a method that reduces the odor.
Once decarbed, you can create a variety of liquid mixers to go into your drinks:
- Cannabis-infused liquors: These are created similarly to other homemade liquor infusions but with heat. Bobrow’s book has tips for the process and recommendations for strain-liquor pairings.
- Cannabutter, cream, or syrup: These are quick ways to drink your medicine in any beverage. Adding lecithin helps your body absorb the cannabis compounds more quickly.
- Cannabis tinctures and oils: These concentrated liquids are popular among medical marijuana patients. The THC and CBD contents vary greatly, and CBD-only tinctures and oils are available. Tinctures can be powerful, so a single drop is often all that is needed for a drink.
- Cannabis bitters: Just like the bitters used often in the bar, these are also very concentrated, and a few dashes go a long way.
How Do Cannabis Drinks Taste?
If you have any experience with cannabis, then you already have an idea of its unique flavor. No matter the cannabis ingredient, it adds an herbal undertone to any drink you mix it into.
The exact flavor will vary with the strain of cannabis. In general, the taste can be likened to a bright green and leafy, floral herb. With alcohol—even in a tincture—it can have a sunflower-like flavor.
Cannabis is a surprisingly versatile flavor pairing that mixes well with a variety of ingredients and most liquors. It’s worth exploring how it tastes with fruits, cream, sweets like chocolate, and other herbal ingredients.
HOW TO MAKE CANNABIS VODKA
This first method is super simple and just involves steeping cannabis in vodka for a couple of hours while closely monitoring the temperature. Remember, alcohol begins to evaporate at around 80ºC, so make sure to keep your heat nice and low for this recipe.
- 250ml vodka (or any other spirit of choice)
- 1–3g of cannabis (both dried and fresh cannabis work great)
- Double boiler
- Set up your double boiler on the lowest possible heat setting while you organise the ingredients.
- Prepare your cannabis by grinding/chopping it to a medium consistency and wrapping it in cheesecloth to make a small package. Remember that you can use either dry or fresh cannabis for this recipe. If you want your vodka to produce strong psychoactive effects, make sure to use dry, decarboxylated cannabis. Using fresh cannabis won’t give the vodka the same psychoactive effects, but will give it a nice colour and flavour profile.
- Pour your vodka into the double boiler, then add your cannabis package and let it infuse for roughly 2–3 hours. Use a thermometer to ensure the temperature of the vodka doesn’t rise above 60ºC. For a more concentrated product, feel free to let the alcohol infuse for longer, just remember that you’ll risk cooking off some of the alcohol.
- Remove the cannabis from your vodka, then pour it into a glass container. Wait for the liquid to cool before sealing it, then store in a cool, dark place. If you want a clearer final product, strain the vodka through a coffee filter.
This second method makes a delicious honey-flavoured vodka using cannabis-infused honey. To make the honey, you’ll need to first extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis using coconut oil, then blend the oil together with the honey. Remember to use low temperatures during this extraction to avoid burning off any cannabinoids/terpenes.
- 2g dried, decarboxylated cannabis buds
- 150g honey
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 500ml vodka
- 1 mason jar
- Saucepan with simmering water (water bath)
- Start by making your cannabis honey. To do so, grind your cannabis to a medium consistency, and place it into a mason jar together with the coconut oil. Make sure you’re using decarboxylated cannabis to ensure your honey has psychoactive effects.
- Seal the mason jar and place it in the water bath. Let it sit on low heat for roughly two hours to extract the cannabis into the oil.
- Once the extraction has finished, strain the oil through cheesecloth to remove the pieces of cannabis flower. Remember to lightly squeeze out any remaining liquid from the cloth.
- Add the infused oil to your honey and mix together.
- Add the vodka, and mix until everything is fully combined.
- Pour the vodka into a bottle, seal, and enjoy whenever you need a sweet pick-me-up!