With the summer holiday season finally in full swing, weed fans — and the weed curious — are ready to kick it poolside, throw back a couple of mad refreshing, totally lo-cal THC-infused drinks and get higher than the gas prices at the corner of La Cienega and Beverly boulevards.
The only hurdle is figuring out what to buy.
That’s because while we’ve been preoccupied with double masking and errant sneezes, the cannabis-infused beverage category has been growing faster than Pete Davidson’s social clout.
According to cannabis trend-tracking firm Headset, the California market was the fastest-growing in the country in 2021, when the number of cannabis beverages on offer in the state nearly doubled to 530.
Sure, the beverage labels will tell you how much THC (the psychoactive ingredient that gets you high) is in the drink and probably (but not always) hint at the flavor profile. But that’s not much to go on, and far too often, picking a weed drink has felt more like taking your taste buds on a weedy-tasting blind date than making an informed decision.
To help you find the perfect poolside palate pleaser for the summer season — or at least narrow the field dramatically — a cadre of roughly a dozen co-workers and friends dubbed the Elite Beverage Tasting Squad (EBTS) decamped to my backyard for a 17-beverage test with the goal of jointly (see what I did there?) recommending and ranking by taste 10 THC-infused beverages.
After almost three hours, we stopped at five solid suggestions.
That’s because the vast majority of the options on hand (some industry-recommended, some bestsellers and others chosen at random) suffered from a sad fruit-seltzer sameness, an unpardonably weedy aftertaste or both. A Delta-8 THC-infused drink called Party Water from Party Beer Co. made one taster remark, “I feel like a piece of celery just spat in my mouth.” Ceria Brewing Co.’s Indiewave, which was aiming for an India Pale Ale taste, landed closer to “bitter bong water” with the scent of “unrefrigerated Thanksgiving leftovers,” and with a high THC content (25 milligrams per 12-ounce can), Heavy Hitters’ HVY Marg evoked comparisons to “dirty socks” and “window cleaner.”
But the five highlighted below? They represent the taste-test all-stars and are worth checking out if your summer to-do list includes diving deeper into the world of weed-enhanced beverages. It is not meant to be definitive but to serve as a starting point. To that end, if there’s a weed drink you think merits inclusion in a future taste test, send an email to [email protected]. And remember that, as with all things weed, it’s better to start low (milligram-wise) and go slow (i.e., pace yourself) because you can always take more but you can’t take less — and no one wants you to be the summer’s first freakout.