Cannabis Drinks, photo courtesy of Colleen Eversman

Infused Drinks: Expert Tips on Crafting The Perfect CBD and THC Cocktails

  • Infused drinks are hot—learn everything you need to know about making your own. 
  • Cannabis cocktail expert, Jamie Evans, shares her secrets. 
  • Her Spicy Melon Margarita recipe is the perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with cannabis. 

9-minute read

Infused drinks are having a moment. While there are quite a few new commercial elixirs hitting dispensaries, they’re still only available in a few states. So we’re experimenting more with our own cannabis cocktails at home. As usual, Jamie Evans, founder of The Herb Somm, is out front. Her book, Cannabis Drinks: Secrets to Crafting CBD and THC Beverages at Home tells you everything you need to know.

We’re so excited about your new book on infused drinks—give us the highlights

My goal with this book is to share all the secrets I’ve learned throughout my wine and cannabis journey! Different from other books in this category, Cannabis Drinks offers something to everyone—from beginners to experts. For newbies, this book provides an in-depth look into the basics of infused drinks and general cannabis 101. I highlight the differences between CBD and THC, bioavailability rates, and the entourage effect. For would-be cannasseurs, I detail how to evaluate flower with sensory techniques. Of course, I also cover how to dose infused drinks and how to serve them. There are also several essential how-tos and infusion guides that break down things. That includes decarboxylation and heating techniques. I also focus on options for those who only want to use CBD and/or THC. So the book presents many different approaches to enhancing your beverages at home. 

There’s something in the book for everyone

This book is also customizable, allowing you to choose your preferred dosage. There are recipes for low-dose smoothies, shakes, juices, coffee drinks, tea, spirit-free mixed drinks, and cocktails. Plus, for those who require higher doses, there’s a section on how to increase the potency of their DIY infusions.

What’s the most versatile ingredient for infused drinks of all kinds, not just cocktails?

Cannabis-infused simple syrup. Whether you’re making a spirit-free mixed drink, cocktail, or tea, it’s one of the most versatile ingredients you can use to craft beverages at home. I highly recommend making a big batch so you can enhance just about any drink that needs a touch of sweetness. Cannabis-infused honey is also a great ingredient to stock your bar with. It’s the perfect match for smoothies, hot tea drinks, etc. My book teaches how to make both of these infusions as well as bitters, shrubs, sour mix, and more. I encourage everyone to try making these infusions. But, if creating a homemade infusion is too intimidating, you can simply infuse the recipes using an unflavored commercial tincture. You can choose the path that’s right for you.

Cannabis Drinks, your complete guide to infused drinks by Jamie Evans

The last time we talked to you, we focused on your CBD book. How do the infused drink recipes in that book relate to the recipes in your new book?

My passion for cannabis mixology deepened while writing my first book, The Ultimate Guide to CBD. (For the scoop on that, check out our last sit-down with Jamie.) After writing the beverages chapter, I learned so much more about the craft. I also realized that my preferred method for consuming cannabis is infused drinks. I discovered so many creative ways to infuse beverages at home. This book, as its title implies, dives much deeper into cannabis drinks. It provides a wealth of techniques so you feel confident making any type of infused drink. While The Ultimate Guide to CBD is a wonderful lifestyle book, Cannabis Drinks is all about the beverages! 

What’s an easy aperitif/appetizer that you love to whip up  when you’re hosting?

With warmer weather just around the corner, one of my favorite aperitifs is an Aperol Spritz! But I like to add fresh citrus juices and homemade infused Citrus Spice Bitters (featured in this book). In Cannabis Drinks, I’ve included a recipe for a Blood Orange Aperol Spritz. But with summer ahead, you can easily swap the blood orange juice for fresh-squeezed pink grapefruit juice. Just remove the pulp. Make sure to add a slice of grapefruit to the glass for some extra flavor and aromatics. For a food pairing, a crostini topped with cured meats, soft cheeses, and seasonal fruits and vegetables is a fantastic match!

Favorite type of garnish for infused drinks?

Most of the time, garnishes will be the first thing your senses will encounter with that first sip. So the aromatics of the garnish are important. I recommend using visually appealing items that complement the rest of the ingredients in the drink and add a pop of color. For this reason, I love using fresh-cut cannabis leaves and seasonal edible flowers. Cannabis leaves are also great to use because they visually signal that the drink is infused. So there’s no confusion.

Your go-to infused drink for coping with stress?

I was writing Cannabis Drinks throughout 2020 when the pandemic started. Since I was mixing up so many, I didn’t really have one go-to infused drink. Personally, I love low-dose cannabis cocktails. But if you’re planning on mixing alcohol and cannabis, I highly recommend sticking to the golden rule. Start low, and go slow. Keep in mind that both alcohol and cannabis are potent intoxicants. For best results, when you mix them together, do so in moderation and stick to a low dose of THC (between 1-5 mg max per drink).

Must-have basic infusion to keep on hand behind the bar?

A cannabis-infused alcohol tincture is a must-have for behind the bar. It allows you to easily dose drinks. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make at home. All you need is decarboxylated cannabis flower and high proof alcohol to act as your solvent for extracting cannabinoids. In my book, I teach two different ways to make your own tincture. Depending on the equipment you have at home, you can use a heated or a freezer method. Unlike oil tinctures, which separate from other liquids, alcohol tinctures blend with them perfectly. That allows all of the ingredients to harmonize.

With Cinco de Mayo coming up next week, can you share a recipe for celebratory infused drinks?

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, here’s an infused margarita recipe from Cannabis Drinks. Since it calls for fresh watermelon juice and jalapeño peppers, I call it the Spicy Melon Margarita.

SPICY MELON MARGARITA EQUIPMENT

Blender or food processor

Fine-mesh strainer

One 8-ounce (240-ml)

Sterilized Mason jar

Saucer

Citrus juicer

Old-fashioned glass

Shaker tin

Jigger

Hawthorne strainer

SPICY MELON MARGARITA INGREDIENTS (1 Serving)

Watermelon juice ingredients

1/2 small seedless watermelon

The Spicy Melon Margarita, an infused drink by Jamie Evans

Chile salt rim ingredients

1 tablespoon (9 g) salt 1/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder or standard chili powder

1 lime wedge

Spicy Melon Margarita ingredients

3 ounces (90 ml) watermelon juice

1 ¼ ounce (38 ml) fresh squeezed lime juice

½  ounce (15 ml) Infused Rich Simple Syrup (see recipe in Cannabis Drinks)

½  ounce (15 ml) tequila blanco

½  ounce (15 ml) mezcal

½  teaspoon Aperol

1 small jalapeño pepper, sliced into rounds (set 1 round aside for garnish) 

Lime round, for garnish (optional)

SPICY MELON MARGARITA INSTRUCTIONS

To make the watermelon juice 

Place the watermelon into a blender or food processor. Purée for 1 minute or until the watermelon chunks turn into juice. Using a fine-mesh strainer, separate the pulp from the juice over an 8-ounce (240-ml) Mason jar. Discard the pulp, and set the jar aside.

To create the chili rim

Combine the salt and chile powder in a shallow saucer. Rim the glass with a lime wedge. Then dip the glass into the salt mixture creating the chile rim. If you have Tajín on hand, this works great, too!

To make the Spicy Melon Margarita

Add all the ingredients into a shaker tin, including the watermelon juice and the jalapeños. Add ice, cover, then shake for 25 seconds. Fine strain this into an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with jalapeño rounds or a lime wheel, and enjoy!

We love how curated your instagram is, any tips for those looking to elevate their instagram game?

Something that’s helped my account grow over the years is to focus on a particular topic or beat. When I first launched my company, I tried to cover everything in cannabis. Now, I primarily just focus on infused foods and beverages as well as culinary cannabis experiences. That content is aligned with what my viewers want to see.

Can you share 5 of your favorite profiles to follow on instagram?

Here are 5 of my favorite accounts to follow now if you love cannabis-infused food and drinks! 

@sousweed

Monica Lo is a pioneer in the culinary cannabis space as well as a master at using the sous vide method to create delicious cannabis-infused recipes from an Asian American kitchen. Her page also includes stunning food photography, which she captures on her own. Be sure to follow Monica if you’re looking for some inspiration!

Jamie Evans, your go-to expert on infused drinks

@smokesipsavor

Rachel Burkons is another pioneer in the culinary cannabis space. She’s also my co-host for our monthly IG Live show, The Herb & Smoke Show. Rachel also comes from a long history of working in the beverage space. We have a lot of fun mixing up drinks together. She’s also hilarious. So I think you’ll enjoy her IG Reels.

@bigbadwolfsf

Chef Haejin Chun, of Big Bad Wolf, is one of the coolest chefs around. I was lucky enough to collaborate with her on a few dinners before the COVID pandemic hit. I just love how real she is on IG. Her food is also amazing! Be sure to keep an eye out for her weekly IG Show on @Herb every Tuesday.

@chefamanda.co

I was recently introduced to Chef Amanda Jackson when she attended one of my cannabis mixology classes. I love her Instagram page! She is a very talented chef based in Los Angeles. Her feed features delicious recipes as well as her favorite cannabis products. And her food photos will make you hungry.

@wenyerhungry

I came across Chef Wendy Zeng’s IG page after she won @elevatejane’s “Elevated Eight” cooking competition. Wendy makes some beautiful infused cuisine—using fresh ingredients from her urban garden. She was also featured in Discovery’s Chopped 420 cooking show. Be sure to tune in and witness her culinary talents first hand. 

Where can everyone get your new book, Cannabis Drinks: Secrets to Crafting CBD and THC Beverages at Home?

To purchase Cannabis Drinks, head to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, or a bookstore near you! You can also find the book on my website at www.TheHerbSomm.com or on my Instagram channel @TheHerbSomm. Cheers, and enjoy!

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