by Eric Barton | March 13, 2019

The Spread: The New Chill in CBD Cocktails

A cannabis extract makes for tasty, vibe inducing drinks

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The Blueberry Yum Yum CBD cocktail by Sea Sea Riders restaurant in Dunedin was named one of Restaurant Hospitality’s best cocktails in America. Photography by Libby Volgyes

After three decades in business, Sylvia Tzekas has found a new way to elevate cocktails and lower stress levels for customers at her restaurant, Sea Sea Riders.  

“You notice people at the bar are a lot less anxious, not so worked up,” she says from the downtown Dunedin mainstay. 

The reason? Tzekas has been slipping something unusal into some drinks lately—nothing nefarious, but actually the trendiest new ingredient in craft cocktails. It’s called cannabidiol oil, or CBD, which is an extract from the cannabis sativa plant. 

Bartenders across Florida have been dropping hints of the clear oil into their creations, saying CBD delivers a mellowing effect without the high from marijuana. At Hooch and Hive in Tampa, CBD makes its way into the Bake and Wake, a drink spiked with espresso and topped with almond milk foam. CBD also ends up in a beverage that Plant Miami makes with pineapple, coconut milk and dark rum. 

At Maven in Palm Beach, CBD adds a spin on a Mai Tai. Maven’s bar manager, Grant Moulder, says he uses a CBD that imparts a slight undertone of pot. “When I make a cocktail, I want you to taste the ingredients, so I want you to taste the CBD,” Moulder says. He has found CBD can soothe aching muscles. Working on his feet all day at the bar, Moulder often heads home with tension in his back—something that’s alleviated by CBD. 

For those looking to master CBD mixology at home, there are key tricks, says cookbook author Jules Aron. Aron spent 15 years as a New York City bartender before reinventing herself in West Palm as a holistic health coach and the author of four cookbooks. Her No. 1 tip for cannabidiol drinks is to know the difference between CBD oils and tinctures. The oils can add a nice visual effect floating on top of a drink or can be emulsified into a foam. A CBD tincture can simply be added before stirring or shaking. Some brands have a definite weed-like flavor, meaning they shine when paired with with intense vegetal and citrus notes. 

“[CBD] plays into flavors really well,” Aron says. The biggest challenge bartenders have when serving CBD is convincing newcomers that it won’t get them high. “At the beginning, we were constantly educating people,” Tzekas says. 

Regulars soon caught on, although she still gets first-timers asking questions. No, Tzekas says, CBD won’t get you high, but it sure helps make tasty, calm-inducing cocktails.

BLUEBERRY YUM YUM

Serves 1
  • 1 1/2ounces Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin
  • 1 1/2 ounces blueberry shrub
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 2 ounces Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut
  • 25 milligrams CBD oil (see note)

PREPARATION: Add all ingredients except CBD oil to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add CBD oil and serve immediately.

BLUEBERRY SHRUB

  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups cane sugar
  • 2 cups white vinegar

PREPARATION: Combine ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until thick and fully reduced. Let cool completely. Blend until smooth, store in a glass container and keep chilled.

Note: Use a volume of CBD oil that contains 10 milligrams of CBD extract. 

RECIPE FROM SEA SEA RIDERS, DUNEDIN 

The OmMai CBD cocktail by Grant Moulder of Maven features maraschino liqueur and rum. Photography by Libby Volgyes

OmMAI

Serves 1
  • 1 1/2 ounces Bacardi rum
  • 3/4 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce banana shrub
  • 3/4 ounce Patrón Citrónge Orange
  • Splash of lime juice
  • 10 milligrams raw CBD oil (see note)
  • Cocktail cherry (garnish)
  • Slice of star fruit (garnish)

PREPARATION: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry and star fruit and serve immediately.

Note: Use a volume of CBD oil that contains 10 milligrams of CBD extract. Most brands indicate the amount of extract in each dropper on the bottle.

BANANA SHRUB

  • 7 cups mashed bananas
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • Zest of 1 whole nutmeg

PREPARATION: Muddle bananas with brown sugar. Add apple cider vinegar and nutmeg, and mix until combined. Let mixture macerate for three days. Filter through a fine mesh strainer and discard solids. Store shrub in a covered container in the refrigerator. 

RECIPE FROM MAVEN, PALM BEACH

Author and wellness cocktail expert Jules Aron designed this violet-hued cocktail that complements the euphoric CBD with tropical flavors. Photography by Libby Volgyes

PURPLE HAZE

Serves 1
  • 1 ounce aged golden rum, such as Plantation Grande Réserve
  • 1 ounce fresh pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce butterfly pea flower tea
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce honey syrup (see note)
  • 1/4 ounce aquafaba (liquid from canned chickpeas)
  • 1/4 ounce coconut milk
  • 1 drop orange blossom water
  • 15 milligrams CBD oil (see note)
  • Pinch of maqui, pomegranate and acai powders (optional)

PREPARATION: Add rum, pineapple juice, tea, lemon juice and honey syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake well. Strain into chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Discard ice and add aquafaba, coconut milk, orange blossom water and CBD oil to shaker. Shake, without ice, until thick foam is created. Pour onto cocktail. Sprinkle with superfood powders and
serve immediately.

Notes: Prepare honey syrup by heating equal parts honey and water over medium heat, stirring constantly, until combined. Use a volume of CBD oil that contains 10 milligrams of CBD extract. Most brands indicate the amount of extract in each dropper on the bottle.

RECIPE BY AUTHOR AND WELLNESS COCKTAIL EXPERT JULES ARON