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Delta 9 THC Beverages are in the Spotlight Right Now

Delta 9 THC Beverages - Klaus

A couple of months ago, something intriguing popped up on my radar. It was called Dry January. For drinkers, this meant going an entire month without sipping alcohol. These “former” drinkers would adhere to a regiment of mocktails instead of cocktails. Many of these drinkers were looking for a beverage that offered a bit of a buzz but without alcohol. What would they do? They turned to cannabis-infused beverages and they never looked back. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if dry January morphed into dry February and so on? Soon-to-be former drinkers, like me, would be able to find a home or better yet, a job creating craft cocktails for a cannabis company.


The reasoning? More and more former drinkers are discovering a future in the cannabis beverage industry because they love to drink socially, but don’t enjoy the aftereffects. 

Although the numbers are still miniscule in overall drinking trends, there is a future in high-quality cannabis-infused beverages in the marketplace. This would be outside the typical seltzer drink which I think should occupy a different metric. Sophisticated craft beverages using bartender grade ingredients, along with terpenes and scientifically intriguing nano emulsions abound. There are dozens of Delta 9 quaffs as well as high and low potency THC-based drinks available in the regulated market, with more Delta 9 bubblers appearing every day. Finding a job in the formulation of a high potency THC or Delta 9 product is not yet a high paying job on the entry level, but in a few short years there absolutely will be a metric pertaining to this new column on a balance sheet: The Cannabis Mixologist. 


The requirement to produce the recipe for a craft level libation is in the current state, usually handled in-house with one or more partners at least somewhat familiar with craft cocktails, or certain proprietary flavors that appeal to them when crafting their infused beverage. This takes some flavor-driven intellect, because not every ingredient is going to taste good. Either making them for others in a bartending job or being employed as a master mixologist should be the goal of cannabis and Delta 9 companies, finding the right person for the right job. And then of course there is the food science to scale a bartending type of beverage for manufacturing. Building a craft THC or Delta 9 beverage requires at least a working knowledge of craft beer brewing or wine making, or even canning, without poisoning your customer from a food safety standpoint. Food safety is essential, and cannabis makes the entire go-around even more obtuse with multiple levels of contradiction masquerading as interdiction from the overseers, or so it seems sometimes. The cannabis-infused beverage world is predominantly regulated with so many levels of testing and retesting before the product hits the shelf, and then there is no guarantee that it won’t re-test negatively. This is all part of the cost of doing business… getting the most qualified people for the job and paying them a living wage to do their craft. 


Delta 9 THC Beverages - Evan Eneman

But for those of us who love ultra-high end cannabis beverages, these may be of interest. There’s craft cannabis cocktail maker, Ben Kennedy, who is winning national awards for taste and quality at Fable beverages… he gets it. There’s Evan Eneman with his very British, yet quite adult apple cider sipper - it’s infused with just a mere whisper of THC. He gets it too. You’d never know that this will never give you a hangover… ever. Malus is just masterful. The Craft beverage and Bitter Negroni-inspired libation named Artet is also really delicious iced. When it’s included in an alcohol-free negroni, wow… or even my own LA Spirits/Award winning libation named Klaus, which is a mixology inspired take on a spicy ginger Ti Punch (which is a Rhum Agricole sugar cane juice based rum punch from the French West Indies). Mine is sans the Rhum Agricole, and leads with a cannabis terpene-forward approach. This means the scents that you recognize in your nose are those from using things like Lemon Pledge when you are cleaning the dining room table. 


This is all part of becoming a flavorist/mixologist in the cannabis industry. People get paid to do this work. 


A cannabis mixologist for this role would harness the precious cannabis terpenes and aromatics, and create recipes that raise the bar towards better and more memorable cannabis infused libations. Higher quality means better flavors, and healthier ingredients should focus on building beverages with lower calories and sugar. Health is wealth and should be memorized when creating high-end libations, because you care about the good health of your customers. It’s all part of building the best craft products. Do this task well, and your customers will come back for more. 


The above-mentioned are amongst the high end of the market. In my opinion, these high-end consumables will strike a balance between simple refreshment and a beverage, as pertinent as the enjoyment of a glass of wine with dinner. 


Delta 9 THC Beverages - Mari y Juana

Please don’t get me wrong, there are dozens of Delta 9 seltzers and quite tasty beverages like Cann, which is available all over in both incarnations, over the counter and regulated. There’s the wild and wooly beverage named Mari y Juana (I love this stuff because it’s just so drinkable) or the Jones Soda branded “Root Beer”, that I’m dying to wash down a “mile high” corned beef and pastrami with coleslaw and Russian on Rye… from Hobby’s Deli in Newark, NJ. Who could forget the high-voltage THC-based beverages on the market like Uncle Arnie’s; they are truly the drivers that you read about in all the trade papers. These are quickly made, all industrial material based ingredients with a very basic and quite bitter to the tongue, tincture for the super high potency infusion. For a get stoned quick experience there is nothing like it, especially mixed into a can of Four Loko or Red Bull. 


This is not the direction I chose to take in a craft cannabis-infused libation. I’m sure these cannabis beverage companies are paying top dollar to create the next best thing, jam-packed with the legal limit of THC, caffeine, and corn sugar. I don’t personally think that mixologists had anything to do with formulating this level of THC-infused beverages, but to each his own. 


There may well be a correlation between working in beverage alcohol with 100 proof spirits (or more) and formulating a craft cannabis cocktail that is 100mg or more per drink. It’s a good starting point anyway, on the strength of the final product. 


With my professional background as both a traditional bartender/mixologist and a formulary of cannabis terpenes and flavors, it stands to reason. Using the best ingredients money can buy, simply prepared, with love. That’s the secret to building a memorable libation like I did. 

I’d like to see a determined focus on craft cannabis beverages, using the finest beverage scaled ingredients, as relevant to drinking cannabis infused libations - as enjoying a craft beer or a local glass of wine, or dare I say - a carefully prepared, craft cocktail? 

The upside is pretty concise. 


Never is there a hangover with a cannabis-infused libation. This is the selling point I see most often in comparing cannabis-based libations and liquor. Full disclosure, I worked in on and off-premise liquor on a global basis with six books to my credit, as well as encyclopedia work for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America on cocktails. I’m very familiar with what drinking too much can do to your mind and body from personal experience. 


I do stress less is more with drinking cannabis libations, however. You cannot pound them like an inexperienced drinker, or a college student might drink light beer through a funnel, it’s not that kind of experience, it’s introspective and conversational. Craft cannabis beverages go well with food, I know that many are very much interchangeable with wine, like Jamie Evan’s memorable, de-alcoholized wine based Herbacée. https://www.herbacee.com/ 

A certain amount of finesse is required because the end result might be unfamiliar in emotion, or possibly overwhelming to the drinker. But this experience will wear off over time. Those well crafted beverages don’t pack a hangover. Far from. You’ll be right as rain in the morning or sooner if you drank a combination of lemonade with a bit of ground pepper mixed in. This is what I use in the unlikely circumstances when you took a bit too much. You’ll know what I mean. And there we go with those essential terpenes again! Lemon and pepper combined together counteract a potentially overwhelming cannabis experience. 

Certainly yes. 


My barman/mentor in mixology, Chris James would say- fewer ingredients are what you want. Make them fast and well...Always do more with the best quality ingredients. You can twist up the classics, but do them perfectly, be mindful of the experience of being in charge of the direction your guest takes with his/her palate. 


The same holds true for cannabis based mixology. I wholeheartedly welcome members of the bartending community to develop a menu of “white tablecloth” sips for the industry of cannabis (both THC and the multi-state farm bill permitted- Delta 9 hemp) infused libations. There are many of us who took the marketing-heavy Dry January and pushed it forward to Dry February and so on by learning to leave drinking behind. Something has to capture their attention, stressing health is a good start. It’s been years since I’ve suffered a hangover. It really is not healthy. Drinking a couple cannabis infused beverages is a social/pleasurable activity without a downside. And as further enticement, never a hangover gracing the doorstep. These individuals, mixologists and bartenders alike are potentially seeking a role in the cannabis industry and in doing so they are helping to develop the next level of cannabis infused beverages that hit the shelves. They may or may not want to drink quite so much or hopefully they cease drinking cocktails completely as I did. And if they are really smart there are many opportunities in the food science end of beverages, but these positions are certainly few and far between. You need a food scientist to scale a top grade beverage, so keep this in mind during any negotiation.


To gain the attention of a large beverage manufacturing company it wouldn’t hurt to be a well-known bartender or mixologist. Of course, the best cannabis beverage candidate to a cannabis infused beverage company is one who uses cannabis either medically or recreationally in their day to day activities, why? So, they “get it" with regard to the benefits, the terpenes and what they do when creating cannabis infused beverages. If they are looking for a position with a craft (read, not well capitalized) beverage company, it is best to be very well funded with at least a year or two in savings. More if you intend to cease working until you find a slot in cannabis. Building a cannabis infused or Delta 9 beverage is not for the faint of heart or pocketbook on the producer side and on the creation side as well... But worry not, the overall perspective is for good. There is plenty of healing and cannabis infused beverages have the potential to heal what ails ye, one sip at a time. 


Similar to the time of the early apothecary in the mid 18th century, when cannabis was just about the only thing in the apothecarian tool kit that did anything at all! 


A food scientist is going to charge about $40,000 to scale the beverage. Batch size should play into any negotiation. If the company is putting out 5000 cans, that should garner a fee of approximately $ 40,000 dollars. This should be your baseline. 


The “ready to go” recipe costs about $150,000 at the very high end with an internationally known mixologist who is published and works towards the art of cannabis infused beverages. The low end on a price quotient for someone with a dream and not much else, neither bartending nor writing experience. That is about 30,000. The median to get a craft flavor profile is about 95,000 to formulate a potentially world class, cannabis infused beverage. If this person has a social media following it is even more. 


They should be prepared to take another job. Like bartending or beverage writing to make up the difference because at this time there isn’t a whole lot of craft in cannabis infused beverages. But with that said, at one time there wasn’t a bartending community either. This is a nascent industry with massive upside. Someone has to create the next Cosmo; this time leave out the vodka and add a touch of THC! 

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