If ever there was an election to drive a stoner to drink, the 2016 presidential contest is the one. With that in mind, I thought it would be especially appropriate to explore the topic of cannabis-infused cocktails. For me, no cocktail personifies this election season more than the Dirty Martini. However, when I asked Warren Bobrow, author of Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations, which potent libation best symbolizes the current campaign, he was quick to respond: “The Long Island iced tea is the Donald Trump of cocktails. Six to seven extra-cheap liquors mixed together and finished with corn syrup cola. It’s foul and cheap with golden embellishments!”
How to Infuse Liquor with Cannabis
Follow these instructions to medicate most any hard liquor, which allows you to make cannabis-infused versions of all your favorite mixed drinks. Using alcohol is an efficient way to extract THC and CBD, along with other cannabinoids and terpenes, from the plant. Just as when infusing butter or oil, use trim or buds when infusing liquor. As with all cannabis dosing, determine an amount that’s reasonable for you and
your friends based on the strength of the cannabis and the tolerance of the imbibers. Imbibing edible (or drinkable) marijuana is never a one-size-fits-all scenario. Here’s the basic recipe: To infuse two cups of an alcoholic beverage (such as vodka, rum, tequila or bourbon), use four to six grams of flowers, or six to eight grams of trim (or shake).
Be sure to decarboxylate the cannabis before infusing in alcohol. Place crumbled plant material in an ovenproof baking dish and heat at 250 degrees F for about 20 minutes. This transforms the non-psychoactive THC-A in the raw plant into psychoactive THC. Many instructions on the Internet recommend finely grinding the plant material, but I find it’s more effective to simply break it up with your hands. You’re extracting what’s on the plant, not what’s inside it. Also, with finely ground cannabis, it’s harder to strain out all the plant particles later. Pour the de-carbed cannabis into a sealable glass jar and cover with liquor (two cups per 4–6 grams of flower).
Gently shake to agitate the material, and store in a dark cabinet for a minimum of three days to a maximum of two weeks; gently shake the jar every day or two. Pour the infused liquor through a cheesecloth-lined strainer to remove the plant material, and you’re ready to start drinking. In Cannabis Cocktails, Bobrow includes directions for a quicker electric stovetop/double-boiler infusion method that requires much more care, as alcohol is extremely flammable. He also shares his formulas for infused versions of numerous cocktail mixers, like simple syrup, milk, cream and maple syrup. He even has a recipe for medicated cocktail cherries.
Simple Syrup Made Simple
Simple syrup is a combination of sugar and water used to sweeten cocktails (granulated sugar is hard to dissolve in cold liquids). To make it, simply mix one cup of sugar with one cup of water in a small saucepan. Heat over low flame until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Chill in bottles until ready to use.
Alcohol Fun Fact
During alcohol Prohibition, the U.S.Treasury Department authorized doctors to write prescriptions for “medical liquor,” much like they write medical marijuana recommendations today, except the alcohol ’scripts had to be renewed every 10 days.
Dank Democratic Fizz
This blue champagne cocktail represents Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. It’s traditionally thought of as a “ladies’ drink.” But, like Clinton, this cock-tail packs an extra-strong punch.
1 oz. cannabis-infused vodka
1/4 oz. Blue Curaçao liqueur
5 oz. chilled brut sparkling wine or Champagne
Fresh red raspberries for garnish
Combine canna-vodka and Blue Curaçao in a tall Champagne flute. Fill with cold sparkling wine and garnish with a skewer of fresh raspberries.
These are not your grandfather’s high-balls. Keep in mind that you’re mixing two intoxicants together when you imbibe a cannabis cocktail, and it can take an hour or so before the cannabis portion starts to kick in. Go slow and have plenty of water, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks on hand. Limit yourself to one cocktail, at least until you know how your body reacts. Beware: These drinks are very strong.
Ripped Republican Blood Orange Old Fashioned
Just like Trump, this cocktail is a little bit red and a whole lot orange. It’s also old-fashioned. I use blood oranges for their flavor and reddish hue, but a regular orange will suffice.
1-1/2 oz. cannabis-infused bourbon
1/2 oz. blood orange juice
1 tsp. simple syrup
2 dashes bitters or orange bitters
Blood orange slice and maraschino cherry for garnish
Combine simple syrup and bitters in a cocktail tumbler. Fill with ice, add canna-bourbon and orange juice and give it a shake. Top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with orange and cherry, and serve.
Independent Indica Coconut Margarita
Third-party candidates like Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein offer presidential choices. This creamy white coconut margarita is as pure as their alternative politics.
2 oz. cannabis-infused tequila
1 oz. Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 oz. Amaretto
1-1/2 oz. sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
1-1/2 ounces fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup sweetened coconut for rimming glass (optional)
For a presentation that will wow your guests, toast sweetened coconut in a 350-degree F oven for
about 12–15 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Dip the edge of a large cocktail glass in the coconut cream and then into the toasted coconut to rim the glass. Set aside. Fill half of a large cocktail shaker with ice. Add canna-tequila, Cointreau or triple sec, cream of coconut and orange juice. Shake vigorously and pour into rimmed cocktail glass.
The Dirty Green Martini
Olive brine is the ingredient that makes an ordinary Martini “dirty.” While this drink is usually clear, the cannabis infusion gives it a lovely green tint.
1-1/2 ounces cannabis-infused vodka
Splash of dry vermouth
1 tbsp. olive brine
Green olives for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add canna-infused liquor, vermouth and olive brine, and shake. Strain into a Martini glass and garnish with green olives.
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