Bartender Jason Eisner at Gracias Madre has taken a big stride for Los Angeles cannabis culture by launching weed cocktails at the organic, plant-based Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood and Gratitude, the upscale offshoot of Cafe Gratitude, in Newport Beach.
While there has been plenty of underground experimentation with infusing cocktails with pot, Eisner is using a 100% organic cannabinoid oil he's buying direct from a producer in San Diego, in three cocktails. Any guests of legal drinking age at Gracias Madre or Gratitude can partake — medical marijuana card not required.
The essence of the pot tincture used in the cocktails is called CBD, the lesser-known of the two most prevalent cannabinoids in weed. Unlike THC, CBD doesn't get you high but has the medicinal effects of being anti-anxiety, anti-seizure and antipsychotic — even inducing wakefulness. The CBD in this particular oil is extracted from hemp stalk, not cannabis flowers, allowing it to be sold at a health food store instead of at the dispensary.
The tincture itself is delicious. It's got a full, almost buttery flavor, imparting a richness to the cocktail it's added to. Though CBD isn't supposed to get you high, drinking these cocktails will definitely give you a uniquely warm, fuzzy feeling. Of course, you'll be enjoying these cocktails as much for the taste as for the CBD, so read on for the road map:
Stoney Negroni ($20) available at Gracias Madre in West Hollywood and Gratitude in Newport Beach
True to a standard Negroni, this is equal parts gin, vermouth and Amaro, but Eisner uses Contratto Aperitvo instead of Campari, which has a similar bittersweet taste but employs a lower ABV - so this riff on the classic, stirred cocktail isn't hitting you with everything all at once. A spoonful of port helps balance out the bitter and herbaceous notes while the CBD tincture gives a roundness to the drink.
Rolled Fashioned ($20) available at Gracias Madre in West Hollywood
This mezcal añejo-bourbon Old-Fashioned has just the right amount of booziness and spice thanks to the combination of base spirits as well as a little sarsaparilla syrup -- and, of course, CBD oil. It's like an Old-Fashioned with a bit of cinnamon. The drink is finished off with a house-made, vegan churro garnish that comes in a dime bag that's been fastened to the glass with a mini-clothespin.
Sour T-iesel ($20) - available at Gracias Madre in West Hollywood and Gratitude in Newport Beach
The aptly named Sour T-iesel is a variation on the Tequila Sour cocktail complete with not only CBD oil, but the vegan egg white substitute known as aquafaba. They're blended with the other ingredients — tequila blanco, lime juice, agave nectar, mint and sage leaves, and a pinch of salt — with a handheld emulsifier before being strained into a coupe glass. The drink is topped off with a matcha green tea leaf stencil garnish for a refreshing, earthy nose on every sip.
Gracias Madre, 8905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, (323) 978-2170, www.graciasmadreweho.com.
Gratitude, 1617 Westcliff Drive, Newport Beach, (949) 386-8103; cafegratitude.com.