Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, has been touted as a miracle drug as of late. The non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant is the subject of thousands of studies on everything from anxiety to joint pain, epilepsy, insomnia, and even skin cancer.
Those who use CBD swear that it improves mood, sleep, and pain. In fact, a treatment for epilepsy made from CBD has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
As CBD grows in popularity, businesses across the country and the world are exploring ways to capitalize on the soon-to-be $22 billion industry of CBD. Eleven states in the U.S. already legalized recreational marijuana, making it easier for the production and marketing of CBD. But marijuana’s cousin and competitor hemp was legalized by Congress after it passed the Farm Bill in Dec. 2018. Hemp has insignificant amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound of cannabis that give you the ‘high’ of marijuana, thus making it the go-to plant for CBD extraction.
Now that hemp is federally legal, it’s easier for businesses to market and study all the benefits CBD has to offer. The latest fad to come on the market is CBD-infused drinks in everything from coffee to alcoholic beverages.
Now bars are taking on CBD too, serving CBD-infused cocktails. These bars are still a bit hard to find because the trend is new and only 11 states have laws that allow recreational use of marijuana, making it easier for these bars to operate. But here are some bars you can visit to have a CBD-infused alcoholic drink.
The Zenbarn bar and restaurant in Waterbury, Vt. is owned by two local brothers who wanted to support their community and promote customers’ well-being. The second floor is a wellness studio for dance and yoga classes. Downstairs you can order the High on the Hog or Up in Smoke from the cocktail menu, which use CBD syrup or CBD-spiked lemonade as ingredients.
CBD cocktails are also available in red states like Kentucky. Minglewood is a casual bar in Lexington that serves you global cuisine with a CBD cocktail while you listen to live music.
Two cocktails feature Ananda CBD extract: the Cucumber Haze, made of Prairie Organic Vodka, and the Sour Diesel, made from the local Jim Beam Bourbon and honey. If you’re not into vodka or bourbon, you can add CBD extract to any cocktail for $2.50 extra.
In Charlotte, N.C, you can find good, Southern cooking and interesting cocktails at the Haberdish. One of their CBD-infused cocktails, the Apothecary, is made with Conniption gin, CBD concentrate, pear liquor, and some other secret ingredients.
Smallwares is a Pan-Asian restaurant in Portland, Oregon. They will add a 25-milligram splash of CBD to any drink for $3 extra. Try for example The Rum – made with Plantation rum, coconut, pineapple tepache, and nutmeg.
River and Woods
No list of CBD bars is complete without a bar in Colorado – the first state that legalized recreational marijuana. River and Woods is a restaurant hotspot in Boulder where chef Daniel Asher creates Colorado comfort food dishes inspired by family recipes. At the bar, you can add CBD infusion to any of mixologist Ian Mitchell’s cocktails. Try the Beauty in the Spring with CBD infusion, made of Spring 44 Vodka, grapefruit and lime juice, Dram sage bitters, and cucumber.
Changes in the Law
Some states have written new laws since 2018 that prohibit the addition of CBD into foods and beverages. California was a hotbed for CBD-infused bars, but before leaving office, Gov. Jerry Brown banned the sale of alcoholic beverages with cannabis extracts, essentially ending the CBD cocktail boom in the state.
Before the California ban, bars like the Copper Spoon in Oakland added CBD extract to their mocktails and cocktails. The non-alcoholic drink called New Day was made of turmeric honey, carrot shrub, lemon, soda water, and CBD. You could have also added CBD to any Copper Spoon cocktail for $2, like the “Kisses from Yayamu,” which is still available without CBD, made of gin, Chareau, rhubarb amaro, strawberry shrub, and lemon.
In early 2019, New York City’s Department of Health followed California’s lead by prohibiting restaurants from adding anything to food or drinks that is not approved by them as safe to eat, which means CBD-laced foods and beverages are now prohibited in the five boroughs until further notice. “Until cannabidiol (CBD) is deemed safe as a food additive, the Department is ordering restaurants not to offer products containing CBD,” a DOH statement read.
Before the New York City ban, the Skylark served some cool CBD-infused original cocktails. If you’ve experienced the New York City nightlife at least once, you know the Skylark is a permanent staple. It impresses with a stunning 30th floor 360-degrees view of Manhattan and has a unique drink selection. Their Rocky Mountain High cocktail was made with CBD hemp syrup in a mix of bourbon, lemon juice, elderflower liquor, ginger ale, mint, and sage.
Experts are predicting that CBD will be a $22 Billion industry by 2022, so it’s easy to see why all kinds of establishments would want to jump on the CBD band-wagon and why the wild-west of the nascent industry is concerning local, state and federal officials.
Despite some regulations, CBD-infused drinks are the way of the future, some companies believe. So much so that Constellation Brands, a Fortune 500 international producer and seller of beer, wine, and spirits, paid $4 billion for an investment in the Canadian pot producer Canopy Growth in 2018. Before the Farm Bill was approved in December, the beer giant hinted it would sell non-psychoactive cannabis drinks in the U.S. if lawmakers passed the bill. The company said it was “extremely bullish, if not more bullish” on its new partner Canopy Growth and the future of CBD-infused drinks.
President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law in December of 2018. The bill contained a provision legalizing hemp, a species of cannabis from which CBD is extracted but that isn’t psychoactive. The bill didn’t legalize marijuana for recreational or medical uses.
Hemp’s legalization makes CBD easier to market, but its legal status is still fuzzy. The Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies CBD as illegal, but it doesn’t prosecute people for using or possessing it. Since hemp became legal, the DEA hasn’t expressed if it will change its classification of CBD.
The FDA also still considers CBD a drug and says it’s illegal to put it in foods and health products without approval from the regulatory body. After the Farm Bill passed, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the FDA’s opinions did not change and that CBD companies have to get approval from the FDA to operate.
The Effects of CBD and Alcohol
The concern of CBD-laced alcoholic drinks according to James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center, is how they interact. For example, if you have a cocktail or glass of wine at happy hour and then smoke a CBD-infused vape a little while later, the effects of the CBD are likely to be stronger.
The most common effect of CBD is a feeling of calmness. While this can be beneficial, that calmness can be negative when combined with alcohol, which is a downer drug and also known for calming properties. Due to this potential interaction, Giordano does not recommend mixing CBD with alcohol until further studies are completed.
However, a recent study published in the journal Psychopharmacology found a very interesting benefit of mixing CBD with alcohol. It found that people who combined CBD and alcohol had lower blood alcohol levels than those who skipped the CBD dose. This study was a very small study on humans and more research is needed to verify and pin down the positive and negative effects of combining CBD with alcohol.
It’s safe to say that CBD is only going to grow more popular in the future. This rise in awareness about CBD and its many benefits will likely lead to even more CBD bars now that the entertainment and nightlife industries have come on board with the trend.
With the legalization of hemp in 2018 and the recent banning of CBD-infused foods and drinks in New York and California, it may be a while before CBD bars catch on. Luckily, there are a ton of great recipes for CBD cocktails sprouting up around the web that you can experiment within the safety of your own home.
While the specific interactions between CBD and alcohol remain unknown, there is an ever-growing body of CBD research that will soon give us the answers. It’s important to be mindful when ingesting a mixture of alcohol with any other chemical substances since alcohol can exacerbate the effects of other drugs.