Cannabis liquor and other spirits

For a variety of reasons, cannabis users may prefer not to smoke (or even vaporise) their herb. The most obvious reason for this might be a respiratory illness, such as asthma, but others may simply not enjoy the taste or smell of cannabis smoke or may wish to avoid smoking out of discretion or consideration for a roommate, family member or pet.

Although edibles are a great alternative for those who prefer not to display their cannabis consumption while still enjoying all the benefits of weed, these products have a limited shelf life. Even chocolates will only keep their fresh flavour for a few weeks (although they may still be edible).

By using alcohol to extract the THC and CBD from your cannabis, you can create a tincture that can be stored for a relatively long time: a full year is not an unreasonable shelf-life expectancy if stored properly. The tincture can be consumed directly by diluting it in water or other beverages, such as fruit juice.

Cannabis-infused alcohol is not a tincture, as making tinctures requires the process of evaporating most of the alcohol, to leave a pure cannabis extraction. Cannabis-infused alcohol is more like cannabis vodka, for example. In fact, vodka is a huge favourite for alcoholic infusions because its neutral profile means that it's a great canvas for any flavours you want to add.

Taken in just the right amounts, cannabis and alcohol can create quite a nice high together. However, it is important not to overdo either when mixing them. So here is our guide on how you can enjoy alcohol and cannabis together in one drink.

How do alcohol and cannabis mix?

For oral ingestion purposes, edibles and tinctures have long been the standard, as cannabinoids are fat-soluble, meaning they will dissolve in fats, oils, and organic solvents, so they mix easily with butter and fatty oils. But just like butter or oil, alcohol is an excellent substance for diluting THC to make cannabis extractions (in fact, ethanol is one of the main solvents employed in the production of concentrates). For this, it is important to choose high-proof liquors, for example, whisky or gin, so that the result is as effective as possible.

Cannabis-infused spirits brands begin to fill liquor store shelves
Cannabis-infused spirits brands have begun to fill liquor store shelves

The reason is that THC's chemical structure is what chemists would call "non-polar," meaning there isn't much difference in electrical charge at either end. Water is very polar, so THC does not dissolve well in it. Fats, like butter, are nonpolar. And conveniently, so is alcohol. Throwing some bud into a jug of vodka in an attempt to create an alcoholic beverage, therefore, is a chemically sound and, frankly, brilliant experiment.

Cannabutter

Cannabutter is the main ingredient of cannabis desserts and sweets, it can be eaten alone on toast or as a base ingredient in biscuits, cakes or cannabis candies. Along with some tips on its consumption, in 5 easy steps we show you how to make cannabis butter, an easy recipe to make that will delight all cannabis users.

How to make your own cannabis liquor

Making your own cannabis-infused liquor is easy and requires very little effort. The good thing is that it can be used alone or as a replacement for another liquor in any cocktail. It's best to use distilled spirits like vodka or gin, but this works with rum or whisky too.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to make your own cannabis liquor. The two methods differ in the way the heat is applied. It is extremely important that heat is applied at some point in the process to decarboxylate cannabis, a chemical reaction in which a carboxyl group (-COOH) is removed from a compound in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). This process activates the cannabinoids in the plant, which are in their acid forms, such as THCA and CBDA, and transforms them into the active cannabinoids we know, such as THC and CBD.

  1. The first method is to break up the buds finely and then place them on a baking tray and put them in the oven, at about 160 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. When you remove them, they should be a little darker. Then immerse the buds into your alcohol. Store the bottle or jar in a cool, dark place and shake it vigorously every day. The longer you commit to this, the stronger the result will be. After 7 days, there should be enough cannabis infused in the alcohol for it to be potent. Finally, remove the cannabis from the alcohol with a coffee filter, cheesecloth, or strainer. If you're in a hurry, you can make a quick brew by gently heating the cannabis-alcohol mixture over low heat for 2-3 hours. Make sure the temperature does not exceed 60°C to prevent the alcohol from evaporating. The longer you let the mixture sit, the more concentrated it will be.
  2. The second way to make cannabis-infused alcohol is to finely chop the buds and put them directly into the alcohol. Again, store the mixture in a cool, dark place for a week. Shake it every day. On the day you decide to strain it, put a pot of water big enough to submerge most of the bottle (don't submerge the top). And put the water to boil. Take the pot off the heat as soon as the water boils and then place the sealed bottle in the hot (not boiling) water for 30-45 minutes. The heat will activate the THC in your cannabis. This method is probably not as effective as the first one, but it still works.

Alcohol/cannabis liquor bottles and droppers. The darker bottle contains an extract made from the buds and leaves; the lightest, with clean buds
Alcohol/cannabis liquor bottles and droppers. The darker bottle contains an extract made from the buds and leaves; the lightest, with clean buds

Some tricks you can use

  • You can use fresh, non-decarboxylated cannabis to give your alcohol a nice aroma, colour, and flavour profile; however, it will not have the psychoactive effects that you will get from using dry decarboxylated cannabis.
  • If you don't have a bottle to use, mason jars also work perfectly as an alternative. Glass jars may also be better for infusing smaller amounts.
  • You can also use pre-vaped buds in this recipe, as they've already decarboxylated during the vaping process, so there's no need to do it again. Of course, the taste will not be as good.
  • To avoid having to strain the herb after brewing, you can make a "teabag" style packet and drop it into your alcohol. Remove the herb "teabag" after infusion.
  • We recommend that you leave the cannabis in the alcohol to infuse for anywhere from 48 hours to 2 weeks. The longer it soaks, the better the flavour and potency.

What should the liquor look like after being infused with cannabis?

Depending on how long you've infused your alcohol with cannabis, it's probably no longer a clear liquid (if you used vodka or gin) like it was when you started. The colour of the final product depends on how long it was infused, the amount and type of cannabis used, whether the herb was decarboxylated, and even the cannabis strain chosen. For example, if you use vodka it can come out slightly yellowish, golden, greenish, brownish. To get a lighter colour, do not grind the cannabis too finely before infusion and double filter the alcohol at the end.

How much weed do I need to infuse a bottle of cannabis liquor?

The amount of cannabis you choose to use is completely up to you and depends on how potent you want your infused liquor to be. In general, a conservative dose might be 10 grams of high-quality weed for a 750ml bottle of alcohol; but you can increase or decrease the amount depending on how you want the liquor to taste, how high you want your guests to get, and of course, how much of your precious weed you're willing to drink instead of smoke.

Naturally, the amount matters, and the more you consume, the more powerful the effect of cannabis will be. However, quality also matters, so choose your strain carefully to match the experience you'd like to have. It's also important to note that too much liquor can be counterproductive, and moderation is the most important thing when mixing cannabis and alcohol.

Use your cannabis liquor to do anything

You can now drink your cannabis-infused alcohol straight, even though it probably won't taste very good. Another option is to replace any other liquor in a cocktail with your cannabis alcohol. A wonderful idea is to make some cannabis-infused brandy and make a hot tea with cinnamon to drink before bed. Do not forget that the effect of infusing cannabis in alcohol is very strong, and is very different from smoking it. But as long as you keep that in mind: enjoy your cannabis liquor!

Practically any cocktail admits a good cannabis liquor to add a bit of joy
Practically any cocktail can be made with a good cannabis liquor to add a bit of joy

Risk reduction when mixing cannabis and alcohol

Keep in mind, though, that once someone tries a cannabis-infused cocktail, they'll want to drink at least two or three more. So the maxim is to infuse wisely and drink slowly. Very slowly. Mixing cannabis and alcohol together changes the way your body interacts with them, and you'll be surprised how much it can affect you; even experienced edible users say the high is different.

Depending on your tolerance, your body may respond first to alcohol and later to the effects of weed. In many cases, users of cannabis liquor report feeling longer and more intense effects.

Until now, not much research has been done on how marijuana-infused alcoholic beverages interact with the human body. But according to research, drinking alcoholic beverages before smoking amplifies the effects of cannabinoids in the body.

Smoking before drinking, on the other hand, can make the effects of alcohol appear less than they really are (delay the sensation of intoxication). This may seem like a good thing, but it makes it more difficult to know how disabled you really are. For example, you may feel that you are fine to drive, but your blood alcohol level may be well above the legal limit.

But is it the same for cannabis-infused liquor? It could be since alcoholic beverages increase the absorption of marijuana's main psychoactive ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Also, the way cannabis is metabolised through the stomach is different than when it is inhaled, so its effects differ from other methods of consumption.

A conscious consumption of cannabis and a good knowledge of our body will reduce the possible risks of any method of consumption
Conscious consumption of cannabis and a good knowledge of our body will reduce the possible risks of any method of consumption

When THC reaches the liver, it is converted into a different molecule, 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC). This product or metabolite is very active and easily crosses the membranes that separate the bloodstream from the brain tissue, hence its intense psychoactive effect; In addition, it has a greater affinity for the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system than inhaled THC molecules.

This longer metabolism route makes the psychoactive effect take longer to arrive. And also, it usually results in a longer and more intense high. While this may be good for some people, it can make others go green with fright (especially if you use aguardiente).

To make sure you don't overdo it, you may not want to drink weed-infused liquor if you've already been drinking beforehand. And if you're not a regular cannabis smoker (or eater), just have one drink and wait to see how it affects you before continuing.

Just remember to have fun and keep these four tips in mind as you enjoy your cannabis-infused drinks:

  1. Choose a safe and fun environment the first time you consume cannabis alcohol. If you get too high, the good vibes will be a great companion.
  2. If you don't feel anything, wait at least 30 minutes before drinking more. Marijuana-infused alcohol may surprise you with its effects as your stomach needs more time to absorb the cannabis compounds.
  3. Start with small doses and gradually increase. Remember: you can always drink some more, but never less.
  4. If you want to drink multiple THC-infused drinks, be sure to divide the dose by the number of drinks you'll be consuming.

Mixing alcohol and cannabis may seem harmless, but doing so can be a slippery slope to excessive intoxication. If you want to mix the two substances in a drink, pay close attention to the amount and potency of each factor in the equation, especially if you've never mixed them before. Because, as Paracelsus said, "only the dose makes the poison".

2022-05-11 Cannabis Cookery

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This is the blog of the seed bank Philosopher Seeds. It is intended for the use of adults over the age of 18 years.

You'll find information on homegrowing cannabis, tips, tricks and news from the cannabis sector.

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