With the holiday season already upon us, savvy hosts are busy preparing to celebrate with friends and family, whether the event is a planned family gathering or an impromptu party with friends. And while the challenges 2020 has thrown at us will mean things aren’t the way they usually are, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Consider beverages, for example. For millennia, the go-to thirst quencher for festivities in many cultures has been alcohol. And while a good cocktail can be an effective social lubricant and leave you feeling no pain, it can also fuel bitter arguments and tons of bullshit that nobody wants to deal with.
A Trendy Alternative To Alcohol
For many people who’d rather not drink or serve alcohol for these and myriad other reasons, cannabis-infused beverages are filling the void, whether for entertaining or regular day-to-day imbibing. Although they’re not exactly new, cannabis drinks are seeing growing popularity thanks to progress with infusion processes. While early iterations of many commercially produced infused beverages had unappetizing globs of cannabis oil that left a film on the container, most of today’s drinkable cannabis options are made with nanoemulsions that give them a light and refreshing mouth feel.
Jamie Evans, founder of The Herb Somm and author of The Ultimate Guide to CBD and the upcoming Cannabis Drinks: Secrets to Crafting CBD and THC Beverages at Home, explained in a virtual interview that beverages are a familiar way for people to consume that can easily be incorporated into a social setting or one’s daily routine.
“Cannabis drinks are a fantastic alternative to alcohol. With the new low-dose options that are now available, these exciting beverages can offer a similar experience to drinking one glass of wine or a beer, but without the hangover,” Evans said. “Thanks to cutting edge technology and scientific advances within the category, cannabis beverages have faster onset times and are sessionable, making them a suitable option if you’re looking for something spirit-free.”
Cannabis Drinks A Growing Market
It’s an option that many cannabis consumers are finding appealing. Cooper Ashley, an analyst with cannabis market data firm Headset told High Times that cannabis-infused beverages command a market share of about 1% in the U.S. Sales have more than doubled in just two years, from $4.1 million in October 2018 to over $8.3 million in October 2020, a rate of growth slightly higher than the cannabis market as a whole. Additional data from Grand View Research shows cannabis beverage sales growing to a market worth $2.8 billion annually by 2025.
Fruit Meets Flower
With sales like that, the options available to consumers are quickly expanding. Providing wine drinkers with a beverage that swaps the alcohol for THC and other cannabinoids is the specialty of Viv & Oak, a California company led by president and founder Alana Burstein.
“We see beverages being the future of cannabis consumption, after all, it is the most natural way to consume,” Burstein wrote in an email. “We are here to normalize cannabis consumption, and with our wine, making it delicious, relatable, and approachable.”
With five varieties made with either dealcoholized California Zinfandel or rosé wine, Viv & Oak’s offerings can provide an elevated yet healthier experience to your next get-together with friends and family.
“Viv & Oak is a healthier alternative to alcohol, we only have three grams of sugar and 24 calories per glass, avoiding extra calories in your glass,” Burstein said. “We have a seven to 10-minute onset, avoiding overconsumption from happening like typical cannabis edibles. We are a healthier alternative to smoking, and we are hangover free. You can thank us in the morning!”
Luke Anderson, the co-founder of the Cann brand of infused ‘social tonics’ with gourmet flavors including grapefruit-rosemary and lemon-lavender, believes that the best cannabis beverages for entertaining are microdosed. With beverages containing 2.5 milligrams of THC or less per serving, no one—even the uninitiated—is likely to get too high. And with fewer calories than alcohol without the repercussions the next day, he says infused drinks are perfect at holiday time or throughout the year.
“During the holidays we eat a lot of indulgent foods and drink a lot of calorie-rich drinks, so having a microdose THC beverage in the mix allows people to be healthier than usual during the season (or feel less guilty about having an extra piece of pie),” Anderson wrote in an email. “But the desire to be healthier and less hungover is a year-long thing, so while the holidays are a great time to try cannabis beverages for the first time, most people integrating it into their lifestyle report drinking 20-50% less alcohol than they did before becoming acquainted with the category.”
Try Your Hand At Mixing Cannabis Beverages
While there are plenty of ready-made cannabis beverages available at your favorite dispensary, Evans noted that they are not the only game in town. With a little research and creativity, anyone can become a competent marijuana mixologist.
“It’s incredibly easy to craft your own cannabis drinks at home! With a little practice and an understanding of how the infusion process works, you can infuse pretty much any beverage ranging from smoothies to mixed drinks,” she suggested. “Creating your own cannabis-infused imbibes will also allow you to customize your perfect dose. Whether you love CBD or THC, there are many new avenues to explore when it comes to cannabis drinks.”
Whether you choose options available from your favorite dispensary or play bartender and mix up your own, give cannabis-infused beverages a try this holiday season. You may just find a new libation you’ll be happy to enjoy all year long.