Esquire (USA)

this bud's for

Tired of lockdown hangovers, I turned to something new and almost considered TRADING ABV FOR THC forever. Almost. by DAVE HOLMES


DURING THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN, ALCOHOL SALES in the U. S. increased by 24 percent, and I know this figure is true, because I am responsibl­e for 15 of those percentage points. Over the months, Martini Mondays begat ’Tini Tuesdays, which bled into Whydon’twehaveama­rtini Wednesdays. Then it was the weekend! My partner and I were drinking a lot, a day of low-key shame exchanged for maybe 45 minutes of chill.

But I live in California, where the horticultu­ral know-how of Humboldt County has mingled with the capitalist spirit of Silicon Valley and has been launched into hyperdrive by L. A.’s insatiable demand for luxury shit. The result is groundbrea­king new weed products. Among them, THC-infused beers, wines, and spirits, nonalcohol­ic drinks that offer anxiety relief without the uneasy aftermath (or the calories). I proposed it to my partner: What if, for one week, we swapped the happyhour cocktails and dinnertime bottle of wine for their weed counterpar­ts? A 21st-century Folgers Switch! He said no, but luckily for both of us I wasn’t listening, so we dived in.

The cocktails would center on Artet, the world’s first nonalcohol­ic THC aperitif. We went in at the entry level: the old ’Tet and tonic. The unmistakab­le whiff of weed was there but buried deep under citrus and ginger top notes. At a sensible THC microdose of 2.5mg per serving, these cocktails hit easy. They also hit quickly. Artet kicks in within 15 minutes, much like a cocktail cocktail, but it doesn’t loosen your lips the way booze does. It’s a more subtle, introspect­ive kind of feeling, and then you’re back to normal in about 90 minutes. If you’ve been scarred by an edible that slapped you too hard too late, pick up a highball glass.

Cocktails out of the way, it was time to pair our dinner with a wine, so we opted for a red: Viv & Oak’s Shimmering Scarlett, a nonalcohol­ic wine from fermented grapes that packs an imposing 10mg of THC per serving. We each poured a half portion and sipped cautiously. The complexity of a good California wine was absent, and when we paired it with our soy-based Beyond Burger meat, the entire meal carried an overall tasting note of “almost.” But at 16 calories per serving, it’s close enough for the jazz you will begin to understand on a deeper level after one glass. And I do mean one glass. We simply stayed there for fear of getting a tiny bit too high and contemplat­ing eternity.

Over a week, we tried PBR lemon seltzer and Lagunitas Hi-Fi Hops Reverb. We sipped Jolie Fleur Blanc, a decent facsimile of a sauvignon blanc. But our favorite THC drink? A couple shots of Artet with ginger beer in a cocktail I have dubbed a Drug Mule.

The difference was welcome: We sprang out of bed each morning, free from hangovers and surprise deliveries of late-night Instagram purchases. I missed happy-hour pints, but I also lost three pounds. I felt good. Youthful. Downright California­n. The experiment was a success. We celebrated with martinis.

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