3 - 4 July, 2023
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Best CBD spirits, beers and cocktails to try in the UK

The cannabis drinks trend continues to grow apace, manifesting in different ways around the world, depending on regulations regarding its use in different countries.

In the UK, CBD – a non-psychoactive component of cannabis – is not a controlled substance, allowing drinks producers to incorporate it into their products.

As a result, it’s been finding its way into a variety of drinks categories, as well as into some cocktail bars.

Functional benefits of CBD

As one of the biggest health trends of recent years, there are various claims out there about the various benefits offered by CBD.

While there isn’t an abundance of scientific proof for some of these claims, users report benefits from its anti-inflammatory properties, and find that it helps with anxiety and depression. It might help with sleep too.

Commercial CBD products usually suggest benefits related to mood and cognition, referring to clarity, balance, calm, harmony, chill, and other desirable states of mind.

RTD CBD

There’s no shortage of CBD infused drinks in the UK right now – even Vita Coco is in on the action, with a range that includes a Cola and an Apple Ginger drink, and delivers bonus electrolytes too.

Like all of the best CBD drinks, the quantity of the cannabinoid is listed prominently on the can – 20mg in this case.

CBD 420 is another widely available brand, offering 15mg of CBD per can, and in a variety of flavours such as Elderflower Lime, Hibiscus Ginger and more.

Also among the most popular CBD drinks brands is Trip, who have three flavours in the range, namely Elderflower Mint, Peach Ginger and Lemon Basil.

These include adaptogens, which the brand describes as natural botanicals that help the body adapt to stressors, to help “reset, rebalance and recalibrate”.

Trip CBD drinks are available from supermarkets like Sainsburys, from Amazon, and are even on Deliveroo.

While many of the top rated CBD drinks on the market are flavoured seltzers like these, some buck the trend, such as Botanic Lab’s Dutch Courage, a bottled sparkling tea drink that’s hibiscus and sour cherry flavoured.

At Hackney cocktail bar Behind This Wall, a range of bottled, ready-to-drink cocktails includes the Fo’ Swizzle, a combination of spiced rum, honey and ginger, carbonated and bottled at 4.5% ABV and with 15mg of CBD. The bar also sells a honey and ginger CBD syrup created specifically for bartenders looking to add CBD to cocktails.

CBD spirits and more

Unlike countries such as the US, in the UK it’s legal to produce alcoholic products that contain CBD, allowing for a number of launches over the past few years.

While it’s debatable whether some CBD spirits contain enough of the cannabinoid to be effective, these have undoubtedly brought the idea of CBD to more drinkers, as well as allowing it to begin to get involved in the world of cocktails.

Among these pioneering spirits is Muhu, a sweet hibiscus gin (40% ABV) with added CBD. “A drink engineered for relaxation,” says its founders, it is set to be the first in a range of travel-inspired spirits. The recommended serve is with Fever Tree Aromatics and a sprig of thyme.

Aqua Sativa, meanwhile, is another UK-based producer of CBD-infused spirits, including a pair of gins, a dark spiced rum and a vodka. Produced in Manchester, the range is available in a number of local on-trade outlets.

Spiced rum brand Dead Man’s Fingers attracted a lot of attention when it unveiled its Hemp Rum at Imbibe Live in 2019, with its neon packaging and overt hemp flavours.

Tapping into the non-alc spirit trend, meanwhile, is Maria & Craig’s, a distilled non-alcoholic CBD botanical spirit that combines natural hemp with distilled  juniper and other botanicals.

Beyond spirits, cannabis-based drinks are emerging in other drinks categories too.

Take Cannabrew’s range for example, which includes an IPA, a lager and a cider. Devon Brewery Hanlons is also producing an alcoholic CBD beer. Calling it “beer with benefits”, the brewery’s CBD IPA is 4% ABV and contains 10mg of CBD per bottle.

Wine is covered too. Rebel Wine is a range of canned wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, a rosé and a pair of wine spritzers, all with added CBD.

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CBD cocktails

While the use of CBD in cocktails is far from widespread, there are a number of UK bars that have begun to experiment with it.

Hackney’s Behind This Wall, for example, makes use of its CBD syrup in the drinks it serves in the bar.

Covent Garden’s Maison Bab, meanwhile, created a G&T entitled Gin & Chronic, combining Bombay Sapphire with CBD oil and lemon.

Camden’s Lost Boys Pizza makes use of Dead Man’s Fingers Hemp in a Pineapple & Sage Daiquiri.

For a top-end exploration of cannabis cocktails, members’ bar Annabels created the Medatini a couple of years ago. In their own words: “The CBD and Nootropics laced Medatini pays homage to the Espresso Martini with Grey Goose vodka, but with half the sugar and calories of the classic. It’s time to drink smarter.”

CBD spirit producers have their own recommendations for ways to incorporate their drinks into cocktails, such as Muhu’s The Explorer. This combines the CBD gin with muddled blackberries, topped with ginger beer and garnished with a slice of lime and more berries.

For Aqua Sativa, the Reefer Rig is based on its CBD infused Spiced Rum, with Campari, pineapple juice, lime juice and a dash of gomme, garnished with a Maraschino cherry and a pineapple wedge and leaf.

Hannah Glasson, Founder of INTUNE, and Tait Kirk of Caalloh Callay will be hosting a masterclass on "CBD to level-up your life behind the bar and beyond" at the upcoming Imbibe Live event on 4-5 July.

View the full masterclass programme and register now to get your ticket to Imbibe Live, the UK's biggest drinks trade event.

 

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