Weed Drinks Have Gotten So Much Better. Here are 5 Worth Trying.


Photography by Ricardo DeAratanha

Original Article – https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2023-08-03/best-weed-drinks-for-summer

Just in time for high summer — and even higher temperatures — our Elite Beverage Tasting Squad, a cadre of cannabis consuming co-workers and friends, is at it again after forming last year to taste-test some pot-packed, palate-pleasing potables worthy of picking up and icing down.

The big takeaway this time around? What a difference a year makes! Last summer, the squad sipped, swirled and spit its way through 17 beverages and found it challenging to pick five good-tasting ones from a sea of weedy White Claw wannabes.

This time, of the 18 drink options representing a dozen brands, the off-putting weediness of last year’s drinkable contenders was largely absent. And in the rare instances where it was noticeable this year, the taste of cannabis seemed to lean into — instead of detract from — the overall flavor profile of the beverage.

Another noticeable difference is this: the infused beverage market appears to be moving away from putting all its eggs in one fruity seltzer basket. There are still plenty of those out there. (For example, Wynk’s juicy mango and black cherry fizz seltzers were in the mix this season. They were announced as gold and bronze medal winners, respectively, in the water/sparking water/seltzer category at the inaugural L.A.-based High Spirits Awards.)

Replacing those White Claw wannabes in the market is a variety of tasty beverages. There are high-performance sports drinks — yes, you read that correctly — like the one recently launched by L.A.-based Offfield that throws a dose of the amino acid L-theanine in alongside THC, CBD and CBG.

There are also concoctions designed to help you recover from a night of partying; Surplus’ Rally beverage thinks serving up a mix of vitamins and electrolytes alongside THC and CBD will do the trick. (The line also includes versions tweaked to help you get out on the dance floor, Strobe, or get a good night’s sleep, Knockout.) There’s even an infused apple cider (Malus’ Granny Smith OG, which took home a platinum medal for best cannabis cider at the High Spirits Awards), that we’re keeping on our radar when we’re in the mood for an autumnal-tasting buzz.
Spoiler alert: While each of these found some favor with members of this year’s Elite Beverage Tasting Squad), none ultimately made it to our hard-fought favorite five.

The ones highlighted here, though, are a different story.

In addition to the expected ingredient (that’d be THC, which in the drinks below range from 5 to 10 milligrams per serving), they all kick things up a notch in the palate-pleasing department, and that means you’ll be bringing a little something extra to your next summer soiree.

Just remember, if you’re stepping into the deep end of the potent potable pool for the first time in awhile, it’s better to start low (milligram-wise) and go slow (i.e., pace yourself). That’s because you can always take more, but you can’t take less. After all, who wants to end up one of the hot summer’s hot messes?

Sunstone’s mad-refreshing sparking beverages, which launched in April, earn a spot on our favorite-five list — with an asterisk. For two reasons: First and most important, because, as of this writing, it can be ordered only online for delivery within Santa Barbara County. Sunstone Winery President Teddy Cabugos, who is overseeing the brand’s expansion into non-alcoholic, THC-infused beverages (as a separate Sunstone Cannabis entity), hopes that L.A.-area deliveries will be a reality within the next six months. (In the meantime, aspiring spritz sippers are encouraged to contact him through the company website — where you can also sign up for availability updates. (Or you can do what I did and arrange for someone who is S.B.-bound to score some while there.)

The second reason for the asterisk? Three of the four flavors (peach-passion fruit, watermelon and grapefruit orange — sorry, pineapple coconut) proved so popular with the collective palates that the only way to avoid an all-out, table-flipping taste-tester mutiny was to bestow third-place accolades on the lot of them. “A nice family of drinks,” one taste tester phrased it.

Perhaps that’s because Cabugos and his team are approaching the craft cannabis beverage space with the terroir mind-set of winemakers. “Santa Barbara already grows some of the best grapes in the world and some of the best outdoor cannabis in the world,” Cabugos told The Times, explaining that the drinks are made with 100% all-natural ingredients and infused with single-origin, full-spectrum, sun-grown cannabis rosin from Santa Barbara County. That might sound impressive to a weed head, but what did our squad have to say?

The peach-passionfruit flavor earned high marks for “tast[ing] like a Haribo peach gummy,” one taster wrote, adding, “Good mixer vibe.” “Peach forward — and not unhappy with that,” noted another. A third described it as “punching my tongue with pungent fruit passion.” However, a few noted an off-putting sour note in the mix.

The watermelon flavor earned accolades too. Comments included: “Impressive job with the watermelon flavor. This could have been terrible, but I quite like it as a summer drink!” and “Not bad as far as watermelon goes. I bet if you put that in a hummingbird feeder, it would slow a hummingbird down!” (This is where I tell you — unequivocally — not to put anything in a hummingbird feeder other than hummingbird-appropriate nectar.) One creative commentator drew an exploding barrel labeled weed with pieces of candy flying into the air. (Translation: “An intense fusion of cannabis, carbonation and candy.”)

$99.95 per 12-pack, 5 milligram THC and 20 to 40 calories (depending on the flavor) per 12-ounce can. Flavors include peach-passion fruit, watermelon, grapefruit orange and pineapple coconut.

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