When he was younger, bar vet Jason Eisner didn’t like cannabis at all. He’d sometimes smoke to fit in, but he never cared for the experience until he learned how to enjoy it during the last decade. Now the three-time Best Bartender Award winner uses that newfound appreciation to blend the finer notes of cannabis with his passion for bar culture and mixed drinks.
Eisner got his start in the food and beverage industry at a young age helping his mother with her catering job on the weekends. But what began as quality time quickly bloomed into a passion. And in his early 20s he made the move from New York to Los Angeles, California to learn from the best. A quest that saw him running a biker bar in Malibu and kindling a mentorship with famed mixologist, Jaymee Mandeville, before he was picked up by restaurant group Love Serve Remember Foundation to spearhead West Hollywood’s plant-based restaurant behemoth, Gracias Madre, to create its first full liquor concept.
As Bar Director of Gracias Madre, Eisner came out swinging—crafting the drink menu with nothing but agave-based spirits. And it’s here that he became known for experimenting with cannabis in his cocktails. He began making smoked drinks with a culinary smoking gun, hemp seeds and water pipes that served as informal decanters, before becoming one of the first mixologists to infuse spirits with cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabis terpenes. And in keeping with tradition his forthcoming craft brewery project, Party Beer Co., which launches in the spring of 2019, will also feature a non-alcoholic CBD beer.
“I look at cannabis as medicine,” Eisner told CULTURE. “I use it every day. Especially CBD, because it helps with inflammation, pain, anxiety, you name it. And I laugh when people tell me users aren’t productive people. This morning I woke up, made my daughter a delicious vegan breakfast, drove her to school, did two hours of Muay Thai and MMA sparring, and I’ll be working until eight o’clock this evening while using cannabis throughout the day.”
“I have a very specific system when I use THC in cocktails, but I don’t suggest people at home use THC.”
While Eisner’s smoked cocktails did not offer any additional intoxicating effects, their complex flavors and aromas were inspirational to his creative mind. Every cannabis strain contains terpenes, which produce unique flavors and aromas that can complement spirits. For this reason cannabis can open new horizons for what is possible behind the bar. CBD, which is non-psychoactive, can be infused in oils or tinctures, but Eisner prefers oils because they offer a richer flavor and scent, seeing as they don’t fully integrate with spirits like alcohol-based tinctures. The calming and sedating effects of CBD also balance well with the intoxicating effects of liquor.
Still, all cannabis compounds affect everyone differently, so it’s wise to take note of the dose of CBD as well as the ABV, or alcohol by volume, of any given CBD cocktail. A cocktail with a high ABV might counteract the effects of CBD, while too much CBD might lead to severe drowsiness. Just because CBD won’t produce the high of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) doesn’t mean it carries no learning curve of its own. The legality of hemp-derived CBD as well as THC also varies market-to-market with THC remaining federally illegal.
“I have a very specific system when I use THC in cocktails, but I don’t suggest people at home use THC,” Eisner said. “I always suggest people at home use CBD, because THC in cocktails can be a little too advanced if you’re just starting to play around with it, and a really high dose of THC can turn people away from cannabis. The worst thing that can happen to you with CBD is you fall asleep on the couch in your most comfortable sweater while watching a terrible ’90s rom-com.”
Blue Dream Margarita
Available at: Block Party Highland Park in Los Angeles
2 ounces 100 percent Blue Agave Tequila Blanco
1 ounce organic fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce organic agave nectar
2 dashes of orange bitters
1 pinch of Kosher Salt
1 scoop of E3Live Blue Majik Spirulina
5 milligrams of the CBD oil of your choice
- Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake rigorously, and strain into a Collins glass.
- Add fresh rocks (or crushed ice). Garnish with an edible flower, and serve.