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How to Make Marijuana-Infused Craft Cocktails

on 31/07/14 at 10:38 am


indexIn 2012, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative called “The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” effectively legalizing cannabis based largely on the public’s growing recognition that blazing is far safer than boozing. Or, as the campaign’s most popular slogan put it:

Marijuana—it’s like alcohol with no violence, no hangovers and no carbs.

If we’re really going to regulate marijuana like alcohol, what better way to forever conjoin the two on equal legal footing than by hoisting a few well-crafted, high-end cannabis cocktails?

Unfortunately, in Colorado and Washington, even though it’s now fully legal for adults to buy marijuana at retail stores, things still aren’t all that equal. You can’t smoke pot at a bar (even one with a smoking section), there’s no Amsterdam-style coffeeshops where you can buy herb and then enjoy it among likeminded herbalists, and there’s no bring-your-own-marijuana clubs that allow on-site consumption. So even with legalization fever spreading like a nationwide grass fire, it’s still highly unlikely that you’ll be able to drop in at your local and ask for an Old Fashioned infused with Bubba Kush anytime soon.

“Given how tightly regulated both alcohol and marijuana are currently, I don’t see anybody legally mixing them together for a long, long time, either as a packaged good or at a tavern,” Daniel K. Nelson, owner and head mixologist at artisanal cocktail hotspot The Writer’s Room in Los Angeles, tells the Weed Eater.  “Still, I’ve been to many places where the bartender gives me a little wink and pulls an unmarked bottle of homemade ganja hooch from below the bar.”

Nelson says he’s enthusiastically enjoyed both smoking herb and eating pot-infused edibles since his days of youthful indiscretion, but only got really interested in cannabis cocktails two years ago, when commissioned to provide the libations at a now legendary gourmet weed dinner. Sure, he’d previously “messed around” with “just throwing a couple of buds in a bottle of vodka,” but the results weren’t particularly pleasing to the palate. And even after months of steeping, the pot’s psychoactive THC barely transferred to the vodka, meaning “you got way-too-drunk before you ever got stoned.”

So when chefs Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen and Laurent Quenioux of Bistro LQ reached out for help in pulling off a nine-course secret dinner focused on cannabis as a culinary ingredient, Nelson at last endeavored to do his homework, ultimately finding inspiration in a combination of modern technology and old-school technique.