There are drinks – and then, there are drinks.
Anyone who’s visited a marijuana dispensary knows that there’s a large and varied selection of weed-infused, non-alcoholic beverages to choose from.
The market has grown rapidly for cannabis- or THC-infused sodas, seltzers, mocktails and shots, sold by brands like Keef, Activ8 and Loos. These companies, and many others, have capitalized on opportunities created by marijuana legalization, thanks to emerging technology that makes it easier than ever to mix weed or cannabinoids with beverages.
But what about doubling your pleasure by mixing weed with alcoholic drinks?
You probably won’t be able to order pot beer or a THC-infused cosmo at your local watering hole just yet. Some establishments have begun adding CBD oil or other non-psychoactive cannabinoids to their drinks. However, it’s specifically illegal for commercial establishments to mix THC and alcohol in some “legal marijuana” states like California. In other legal states, the majority of bars are way too worried about their liquor licenses to take the chance.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it at home.
Here’s what you need to know – and some great recipes to try.
The Physics of Mixing Weed and Alcohol
You probably remember from high school science classes that oil and water don’t mix.
That’s one of the problems you have to overcome when trying to infuse a drink with cannabis oil, since alcohol is usually at least 20% water. (Simply adding decarbed flower to a cocktail creates a mixture of liquid and weed that’s rather unpleasant to drink.)
Many weed beverage makers create “nano-emulsions” by breaking cannabis oil down into microscopic particles, and combining the particles with a substance that mixes easily with water. Unless you have a commercial-grade lab at home, this solution probably won’t work for you. Weed oil or tinctures are user-friendly substitutes for DIY mixologists.
If you’re going to be using cannabis oil, be prepared to have oil floating at the top of your beverage, since stirring won’t keep the mixture intact for long. Your best option is to use cannabis tincture instead of cannabis oil; tinctures are made with alcohol so they’ll mix into alcoholic drinks without a problem. Tinctures are more difficult to find than oils, though.
There’s another issue you’ll have to deal with when mixing weed and alcohol. Just as with edibles, it takes a while for the body to digest and absorb THC. Nano-emulsions are so small that they are absorbed almost immediately. But home mixologists using cannabis oil or tincture will find that the alcohol in their drink will hit first; the THC high may not follow for 30 minutes or an hour.
One final concern has less to do with physics, and more to do with judgment. It can be tempting to load a cocktail with cannabis oil or tincture, but that will mean a quick end to your night’s partying. Companies that make infused, non-alcoholic drinks use microdoses of THC, and that’s an equally good idea when you’re mixing weed and alcohol at home. Going easy on the cannabis will prolong the good times, instead of sending you to bed early.
Ready to have some fun?
Tips for Making Liquid Marijuana Drinks
First and foremost, it pays to be careful. Plunging right into cannabis mixology without some practice runs can not only waste your bud, but can knock you on your behind.
The best approach is to start with non-alcoholic drinks, to give you a feeling for how cannabis and liquids mix (or in some cases, don’t mix). Make some CBD tea, add a little weed-infused milk to coffee, or make apple cider with cannabutter. (Making the milk is easy; just steep a quart of milk with about a gram of finely-ground, decarbed flower for a few hours, then strain.)
You can use the milk to make cocktails like White Russians or Milk Punch, of course. For most other drinks, you’ll need cannabis oil or tincture.
You can make your own weed tincture, but it takes weeks to do it properly. Making canna oil (cannabis-infused oil) takes only about six hours of simmering and stirring (use a cup of ground flower for each cup of coconut or olive oil). The smart short cut, if you live near a dispensary, is to purchase pre-made cannabis oil or tincture.
Don’t just dump weed oil (or tincture) into a drink. The amount you need is usually so small that you could be way off-base with your mixology; sometimes just a drop or two of tincture will be enough. Find a liquid marijuana recipe book (yes, they exist) and follow the recipes exactly. That way, you’ll still be sober enough to enjoy the beverage – and and sober enough to remember how you made it.
Finally, the easiest approach of all is to find THC-infused soda or sparkling water at a dispensary, and use it as a mixer.
Here are some recipes to get you started.
Liquid Marijuana Drink Recipes
A quick warning: you’ll find lots of online recipes for something called “liquid marijuana.” It contains no weed; it’s just a green-colored rum and liqueur cocktail.
Try these instead.
Pina Canna-lada (h/t High Times)
Combine in a blender:
- 2 ounces white rum
- 1 ounce dark rum
- 2 ounces pineapple juice
- 4 ounces coconut cream
- 4 ounces canna oil (made with coconut oil)
- ¼ cup diced pineapple
- 1 ½ cup ice
Blend until pourable, and enjoy.
Cannabis Cosmopolitan (h/t Arbors Wellness)
Note: this recipe calls for weed tincture, which is sold in many different dosages. The tincture used to make this drink had 190mg of THC per bottle; you may need to adjust the recipe to fit the tincture you purchase.
Pour into a shaker, with ice:
- 1 ounce cranberry juice
- ½ ounce orange juice
- ½ ounce lime juice
- 1 splash simple syrup
- 3 grams cannabis tincture
Shake well and strain into your glass.
Cannabis Mojito (h/t Piece of Mind Cannabis)
- Gently muddle 1/3 cup blueberries and 3 mint leaves.
- Add 2 ounces of rum and the juice from half a lime.
- Stir in ¼ cup simple syrup and 1-3 drops of cannabis tincture.
- Pour into glass with ice, stir and top with club soda or Sprite. Garnish if desired.
Start slowly, adjust the weed ratio as needed – and enjoy!
How to Make a Liquid Marijuana Drink
Q: Can you simply infuse spirits like vodka and use them to make a drink?
A: Absolutely. Simmering vodka, whiskey or other spirits with an eighth of an ounce of ground (and decarbed) weed for a few hours is another way to do it, particularly if you plan on having a party.
Q: What does an alcoholic drink with weed in it taste like?
A: Pretty much what you’d expect. The herb taste won’t be overwhelming, but it will be noticeable.
Q: Can a liquid marijuana drink be dangerous?
A: Dangerous may be too extreme a word, but the THC won’t hit for a while after you drink so it’s easy to consume way too much. The effects can be even “worse” than eating too much of an edible since you’ve added alcohol into the mix. Cannabis and alcohol can be great partners, but we’ll say once more: be careful.