Looking For a Healthier, Alcohol-Free Buzz? These Cannabis Drinks Fit the Bill
It started innocently enough, with a generous pour of zinfandel over dinner or a refill of sauvignon blanc while bingeing a true crime series after work. But as the weeks of staying at home turned into months (and one glass of wine turned into two or three), I started questioning my relationship with alcohol. I know I'm not alone, either — a study found that alcohol consumption increased by 14 percent from 2019 to 2020. The uncertainty around the pandemic has triggered stress and anxiety for many people, but it probably goes without saying that booze isn't the healthiest way to cope.
Fortunately, I found that cannabis drinks were helpful in weaning myself off alcohol. Unlike most of the CBD drinks currently on the market, this new generation of beverages contains THC, so they lend a delightfully subtle buzz comparable to a glass of wine — with no hangover the next day. And, while excessive drinking has been linked to depression and anxiety (among other serious health issues), cannabis can actually have the opposite effect. Research has shown that cannabis may help to treat anxiety and improve sleep. That may explain why a 2020 Harris Poll found that 45 percent of adults have reduced or replaced their alcohol consumption with cannabis, and observed more genuine social connectedness and better overall health as a result of making the switch.
I can speak to these perks from experience: in the interest of cutting back on my drinking at the end of 2020, I tried replacing my nightly glass of wine with Cann, a carbonated "social tonic" with microdoses of cannabis. A week into my experiment, I already noticed that I was feeling calmer after my cannabis nightcap, sleeping more soundly, and waking up more refreshed. The buzz only took about 10 to 15 minutes to set in and lasted for a couple of hours, and because the THC level is low (and balanced out by CBD), it was subtle enough that I felt in control the whole time. Because I don't use cannabis regularly, I stuck with one or two Canns per night and found that the relaxing effects were on-par with a beer or glass of wine.
If you've tried CBD products and been frustrated to find that they didn't work for you, there may be a legit reason to consider these THC-spiked beverages. Recent studies have suggested that taking both THC and CBD together is more effective than CBD alone, especially when it comes to reducing anxiety. Not only that, but CBD actually helps to put a damper on the psychoactive effects of THC — which means that if like me, you were left traumatized by negative college experiences with marijuana, you won't have to worry about a scary high.
Cann isn't the only company capitalizing on this powerful combo, either. Since I began my experiment, I've discovered a cannabis beverage for every craving and occasion, from seltzers and teas to wines. So, whether your alcohol consumption has ticked up lately, you don't like the way you feel the day after downing a drink or two, or you just find that boozing negatively impacts your mood, mental health, or sleep quality, cannabis may just be the solution. Here are some of my favorite drinks to crack open when I want to unwind.
Cann Lemon Lavender
It's no surprise that Cann has already amassed a slew of celeb fans, like Chelsea Handler and Kate Hudson, as well as investors, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Rebel Wilson. All of the fruit-forward flavors in the lineup — which includes lemon lavender, pineapple jalapeño, grapefruit rosemary, cranberry sage, and blood orange cardamom — are equally delicious, feature just five all-natural ingredients, and clock in at 35 calories.
Cann is available in dispensaries across Massachusetts, California, Nevada, Illinois, and Rhode Island, and if you live in California, you can order the products online. While all the flavors are equally delicious, I highly recommend the zesty, herbaceous Cann Lemon Lavender ($18 for a six-pack), which is also available in a higher-THC 12-ounce size, as well as roadie packets you can add to seltzer or water on the go.
Wunder Blood Orange Bitters
The beauty of Wunder, which is available at California dispensaries, is that it offers options based on your tolerance level: a low-dose line that's perfect for beginners (with 4 mg THC) and a high-dose line that's ideal for cannabis connoisseurs (with 20 mg THC). Did I mention that they're only 25 to 35 calories? Enjoy them straight out of the can, over ice, or mixed with sparkling water. Either way, I'd suggest starting with the Sessions products. Grapefruit Hibiscus is the most popular flavor (and recently won a High Times Award), but my personal favorite is the bold, juicy Wunder Blood Orange Bitters ($20 for a four-pack).
This zero-calorie seltzer line features a modest 5 mg of THC, which is reasonable for both newbies and experienced cannabis users alike. Levia, which is based in Massachusetts and available at dispensaries throughout the state, comes in three flavors, and which you choose will likely depend on the mood you're in. Achieve (raspberry lime) is designed for getting stuff done, Celebrate (lemon lime) is for hanging with friends, and Dream (jam berry) is for chill mode. Personally, Levia Celebrate ($7 per can) is my go-to. Try pouring it over ice with a splash of lemonade and muddled basil for a refreshing pick-me-up at happy hour.
Artet Cannabis Aperitif
The complex botanical flavor profile of Artet Cannabis Aperitif ($48 - $62), available at California dispensaries, is inspired by bitter Italian liqueurs like Aperol, with notes of citrus, cardamom, juniper, and ginger — making it perfect for entertaining as well as winding down solo. And conveniently enough, the bottle comes with a stainless steel shot glass so you can measure out a serving with 2.5 mg THC. Pour it over ice with a twist of lemon, top it with tonic, or use it as the base for a mocktail. Or, if you're looking for a ready-to-drink option, Artet also makes two canned cannabis cocktails featuring its flagship spirit.
Hi-Fi Hops Tuner
Even craft beer lovers can get in on the cannabis trend with Lagunitas Brewing Company's line of THC-infused sparkling waters, which boast all the hop-forward flavor with zero calories. Hi-Fi Hops are IPA-inspired beverages that come in three different formats: Reverb (10 mg THC, no CBD) for a stimulating experience, Tuner (5 mg THC, 5 mg CBD) for a balanced experience that's both low-key and invigorating, and Unplugged (18 mg CBD, less than 2 mg THC) for relaxation mode with no high.
For the perfect buzz with mild psychoactive effects, I'd suggest trying Hi-Fi Hops Tuner ($6 for a single bottle, or $24 for a four-pack), which balances an equal blend of THC and CBD. For now, Hi-Fi Hops can be found at dispensaries in both Colorado and California.
Good Stuff Tonics Honey Lemonade
If you're looking for a "clean" cannabis-infused beverage, rest assured that Good Stuff Tonics are vegan, gluten-free, GMO-free, and made with all-natural ingredients. There's a little something for everyone in the lineup, which is sold at California dispensaries — Strawberry Hibiscus is indica-based for a relaxing experience, while the Key Lime and caffeinated Raspberry Lemonade are sativa-based for a more uplifting buzz.
While they're all tasty, you can't go wrong with the Good Stuff Tonics Honey Lemonade ($18), a hybrid blend lightly sweetened with organic tropical blossom honey and monk fruit. Use the cap to portion out a serving with 3.3 mg of THC, and then you can take it as a shot, pour it over ice, or mix it into a cocktail with some sparkling water and lavender syrup or elderflower cordial.
House Of Saka Pink
If "rosé all day" is your personal motto, you'll definitely want to snag a bottle of these cannabis infusions. House Of Saka, a woman-founded company, removes the alcohol from their wines, which feature the finest Napa Valley grapes, and then adds in their proprietary blend of CBD and THC.
House of Saka Pink ($45 - 50), a pinot noir-based rosé that's only 16 calories per serving, features delicate floral and fruity flavors of juicy red berries, bright citrus, and elderflower, and pairs splendidly with a charcuterie platter after a long work week. Each five-ounce serving contains 5 mg THC and 1 mg CBD, and I'd advise starting with a half serving to see how you feel. The brand's line of wines, which also include chardonnay and canned sparkling rosé, are available in California for delivery as well as at numerous dispensaries.
Mad Lilly Passion Fruit Mango
Mad Lilly's low-dose bubbly cannabis beverages lend a subtle buzz that's ideal if you're new to cannabis, thanks to the well-rounded 1:1 ratio of 5 mg THC and CBD in each 12-ounce bottle. Close your eyes while drinking the Mad Lilly Passion Fruit Mango Spritzer ($9) and you just might be tricked into thinking you're lounging beachside on a tropical island. You can find this flavor, as well as the Raspberry Hibiscus, at select California dispensaries and for delivery on Eaze.
This Black women-owned line of cannabis cocktails can be sipped straight or used as mixers, and with just 2.5 mg of THC per ounce, you can ease into the experience and tailor it to your own tolerance. Each of the carefully concocted flavors, which are inspired by the founders' Afro-Caribbean heritage, features real fruit juices, herbs, and spices alongside fast-acting cannabis. I've been loving Shoki Mint ($44) — with spearmint, lime juice, and ginger, it's a no-brainer base for mule and julep-style mocktails.
The products are currently available in California via select dispensaries and delivery services, but if you live elsewhere, you can still order their alcohol- and cannabis-free mocktail, Shoki Free, online.
Viv&Oak Shimmering Blush 1:1
All five of Viv&Oak's products feature different ratios of THC and CBD, depending on what type of buzz you're after — but each is meant to be swirled, sniffed, sipped, and savored like a fine wine. Their red collection, for example, is made from 100% Zinfandel grapes.
A good one to start with is the Shimmering Blush 1:1 ($38), a sparkling rosé that's delightful on its own, or in a nonalcoholic spritzer or sangria. Each five-ounce pour has 5 mg each of THC and CBD, but only 24 calories and 4 grams of sugar. It's featured at dispensaries all over California, and if you want to find out when Viv&Oak wines are available in your area, you can subscribe to the newsletter.