From facial masks and body rubs to bath bombs and disposable vapes, there’s no shortage of ways to get cannabidiol (CBD) out of the plant and into your body. On Aug. 16 at the Lobby Bar of The Breslin in New York City’s Ace Hotel, they did it the old-fashioned way: baked it into brownies and stirred it into cocktails.
It was a big night for Alexis Rosenbaum, whose Rosebud CBD oil was the main ingredient in the brownies and cocktails. Rosenbaum launched Rosebud in April. Passionate and ambitious, she separated herself in a crowded and largely unregulated market by obsessing over ingredients, process, and supply.
“Rosebud oils come from hemp flowers grown in Oregon without any chemicals or pesticides,” Rosenbaum said. “So many companies put in flavors and additives. We just don’t think really good oil needs anything added to it. We don’t think it can be improved upon.”
Jennifer Costa, executive pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Breslin, might not have improved upon the oil, but she did whip it up into a mighty fine dessert.
“It becomes like fudge if you put it in the fridge,” Costa said of the brownie samples servers passed around at the debut party for the restaurant’s new Rosebud-infused menu items. “But if you serve them at room temperature, they become super moist.”
In the Lobby Bar at The Breslin, just beside the booth where DJ Miss Milan entertained the growing crowd, Costa explained that her creation “has very few ingredients.”
“Not much more than really fine, high-end 66 percent Valrhona chocolate, coconut oil and Rosebud,” she said.
The samples didn’t last long, as the buzzing crowd gobbled them up while sitting on barstools and sinking into the deep couches and lounge chairs arranged around tables in the center of the room.
The brownie — which Costa based on her own “secret recipe” she uses when making butter and baking brownies for her friends — lived up to the hype and hefty expectations.
“We had to shut down the RSVP a few days ago,” Rosenbaum said of the event. “It was completely full.”
As a friend of DJ Miss Milan explained in a thick accent how ironic it is that she didn’t start smoking pot until she moved to New York from her home in Amsterdam, another round of servers mingled through the room, this time with samples of the Rosebud brownie’s partner in culinary crime: the all-new Rosebud cocktail.
The cocktail, which contains a fairly high 12mg of Rosebud oil, compared to the brownie’s 8mg, is the brainchild of mixologist Steven Kincade, bar manager at The Breslin. Aside from Rosebud oil, the recipe calls for 1.5oz of Pommeau, which Kincade explained is “a French drink made from brandy aged in fermented apple cider barrels.” Next is .5oz of Italicus Bergamot, a bitter liqueur, followed by .5oz of grapefruit vermouth and .5oz of fresh grapefruit juice, shaken and strained over ice and garnished with a grapefruit twist.
Although Kincade was certain the ingredients he chose would gel perfectly with the oil’s “neutral with a little bit of hemp” flavor, the cocktail’s presentation took a bit of trial and error.
“I experimented with serving it up in a martini glass,” Kincade said. “But the oil was separating and floating.”
The eureka moment came when he poured the concoction over rocks. The result is a bold collection of smokey and citrusy flavors that become more pronounced the longer you sip and as the ice melts. As with the brownies, the cocktail was a huge hit with everyone at the party.
As pleasing as the brownie and cocktail are, so, too, is the story behind them.
Long having contemplated a CBD-infused dessert, but still searching for the perfect oil, Costa had already concocted the brownie recipe in her head when she met Rosenbaum — not on LinkedIn or at an industry event, but at a hair salon in Jersey City.
“When we started talking, I just loved how comfortable they were about introducing the plant to their menu,” Rosenbaum said of the brass at The Breslin. “I loved how they were willing to take a stance.”
Costa, who had been disappointed with the artificial flavors found in many inferior CBD oils, was impressed with Rosenbaum and her product.
“It’s just super clean,” she said of Rosebud oil. “And really easy to bake with.”
Zlata Jelenic, brand manager for the Breslin, explained the serendipity of the meeting between a renowned New York City executive pastry chef and an ambitious CBD oil entrepreneur at New Jersey hair salon.
“It’s the way people used to meet and talk,” Jelenic said. “The meeting happened organically, and we’re all about organic. We were really concerned about partnering with the right person. The Breslin has always been about nose-to-tail, farm-to-table ingredients. Partnering with Rosebud felt so natural. Rosenbaum is a female entrepreneur who is very concerned with being authentic, and making a product that’s authentic to itself.”
Apparently, authenticity pairs perfectly with brandy and chocolate.