Master mixologists reveal the secrets of cannabis drink recipes

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The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and trees are back to swishing their leaves in the wind. It is official: summer is on the way. This means it’s time to fire up the grill and host cherished friends and family. For some, that means blending up some margs, and others may pull out the cannabis drinks.

The easiest way to infuse a gathering is to grab some weed seltzers and call it a day, but some may want to shake up their own craft cocktail for the occasion. There are cannabis bartending bibles available, complete with drink recipes and other valuable knowledge, but there’s also the possibility of creating something new.

Perhaps inspiration is growing in the herb garden this time of year or a luscious fruit at the farmer’s market tempting you to blend new flavors. Whatever the inspiration, maybe it’s time to run with it. Those who are new to mixing up a THC cocktail may be looking around for advice. Well, it’s right here.

Cannabis drink mixing advice from master mixologists

There’s no one better to give advice to newbie cannabis mixologists than the experts. Jamie Evans has authored multiple cannabis drinks cookbooks and contributed to acclaimed food, cannabis, and beverage publications. As for advice for first-timers, she’s all about leaning into the flavor.

“When crafting cannabis mocktails and other infused drinks at home, there’s bound to be an herbaceous taste,” Evans said to GreenState. “Knowing this, a tip that I like to recommend is to not mask the flavor of cannabis but complement it instead. One of the best ways to do this is by incorporating terpene-inspired ingredients often found in cannabis’s aroma and flavor profiles.”

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Jamie Evans // Photo by Monica Lo

Over the years, many edible brands and infusion recipes have worked to hide the weed flavor as if it were off-putting. Evans and many others in the weed community have shifted into a mindset that the many smells and flavors of weed are a gift rather than a curse. Flavor is of the utmost importance, but so is dosing.

Angel Belman is the beverage director of Original Ninfa’s, a historic Texas bar and restaurant that recently added the infused Tranquilita Margarita to its menu. He has learned some THC dosing lessons as he figures out how to merge 20 years of bartending experience with cannabis mixology.

“My best advice is to start with a low dose and to go slow. Pace yourself, observe how you feel, and take note as you increase consumption to have a general understanding of the guest experience while remembering every person’s tolerance is unique,” Belman said.

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Angel Belman // Photo by Becca Wright

People often want to enjoy one or two cocktails on a night out, but if it’s dosed high, that’s probably not happening. This is why Warren Bobrow, co-founder of Klaus beverages, regrets the doses in his original recipes in Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics, the first cannabis bartender bible. He echoed Belman’s advice.

“Start slow. Don’t destroy your friends. Don’t be like me. I took too much cannabis in each drink; they can catch up on you,” Bobrow shared in a brief email exchange.

The master mixologist has a point: dosing is the most important aspect of cannabis drinks. But once that’s figured out, the flavor is key.

make cannabis drinks
Warren Bobrow

Best flavors for weed drinks

Leaning into the herbaceous quality of the plant is preferred over masking it with sweetness or robust flavor notes. This requires an understanding of the terpenes and compounds in the product infusing the drinks. Learning about these aspects of the flower, syrup, tincture, or other weed product can help the novice bartender key into the flavors best paired with their drink recipe.

Once the terps are clocked, it’s time to plan the other components of the bev. Evans shared her favorite weed-friendly flavors in mocktail recipes.

“Some of the best ingredients include fresh citrus juice, tropical fruits, fresh berries, fresh melon juice, mint, lavender, cinnamon, black pepper, mixed herbs, fresh dill, and sometimes ingredients with savory, earthy flavors. All of these ingredients will blend effortlessly with cannabis flavors.”

Novice bartenders looking to get creative may want to start with a classic drink recipe and riff off of that. Earthy flavors are excellent in a bloody mary, and sweet strains would taste divine in a spritzer.

Jake Wall, chief innovation officer of Maison Bloom, recommends finding recipe inspiration in the wide world of gin. The dynamic liquor can complement many classic cocktail flavors and inventive new creations, much like weed. Gin drinks commonly use a wide range of ingredients from lavender to orange peel, vanilla pods to cucumber.

“Gin, similar to cannabis, is largely informed by the similar aromatic and taste-forward compounds that, in our flower-powered world, is where terpenes step in. Whether it is a bramble or a take on a gimlet and everything in between, look to the world of historic and creative gin-based recipes and hack them with all the best plant magic you can. You can thank me later,” Wall said.

make cannabis drinks
Jake Wall

Cannabis mixology is all about balance

Finding a recipe that uses a liquor that plays into the complex flavors of various cannabis products makes it simple to plug cannabis in place of the liquor without much flavor adjustment. However not every weed drink is going to be a play on a gin drink, and that’s where balancing comes in.

The last piece of the puzzle is the final step to balance the flavor. The infusion method may come into play here. At Ninfa’s Belman noticed the oil tincture required a sweetener like an agave because it added bitterness to the drink.

Evans also pointed out that the best start materials deliver the clearest, fresh flavor.

“Quality cannabis mocktails and cocktails begin with quality cannabis—pay close attention to expiration dates to best gauge freshness,” she said.“If the packaging dates are old, chances are the terpenes have diminished, and the phytocannabinoids have oxidized, which is not ideal when preparing cannabis infusions at home (tinctures, simple syrup, bitters). Choose the freshest products for the best outcome.”

And above all else, follow Evans’s golden rule: “Don’t mask the flavor of cannabis, complement it.”

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.