Mixologist Jason Eisner is introducing the incredible and underrated health benefits of THC's cousin, CBD, to sunny Southern California, in cocktail form.
Gracias Madre in West Hollywood and it's OC branch Café Gratitude in Newport Beach offer dazzling organic cannabis-infused cocktails.
I had to see for myself, so I ordered a glass of Sour T-iesel ($20) at Gratitude in Newport Beach. The drink was rich, vegan “egg white” froth called aquafaba and it was decorated with a fan leaf-shaped garnish.
I could hardly taste the tequila blanco- a generous taste of weed complimented the bitter palate.
MERRY JANE: You just launched a series of CBD-infused cocktails. How is Southern California responding to cannabis-infused cocktails?
JE: I'm so happy with how Southern California has responded to my first menu of CBD-infused cocktails! I'm seeing people that I wouldn't normally expect to see drinking cannabis consuming it and having a great time doing so! I've seen tables get up from their seats and go over and discuss the cocktails with strangers. It's creating a dialogue, and I suppose it is even creating community. Its pleasing to me to see people enjoy themselves and because I'm familiar with the science, I know why people should have this in their lives.
MJ:What type of CBD do you use in your creations? What is the source?
JE: We are using CBD extracted from Industrial Hemp. That's the "grey area" and what makes this legal. In my opinion, we have very archaic laws in this country as it relates to cannabis, and so even though CBD effects the human body in exactly the same way no matter where on the plant it is extracted from, I am allowed to sell it to you so long as it doesn't come from the flower. I find that laughable. Anyway, I am sourcing from two private manufacturers, both local. They have invited me to their labs and are operating 100% organic and vegan-friendly facilities.
MJ: Are people aware of the healing properties of CBD?
JE: We try to use these cocktails as a conduit to discuss the health benefits of CBD with our guests for sure. Cannabis has greatly improved the quality of my life and I want people to know that it is possible to do the same for them. I'm ambitious. I use cannabis and I get to work. I'm active. I workout, or I get in the kitchen and cook. The idea that everyone who uses cannabis is a burnout loser is old hat. It's was created by the anti Marijuana lobby as propaganda for political and economic reasons, and has never been data driven. CBD has scientifically proven health benefits without the psychotropic effects associated with smoking cannabis (THC), and so it is safe and effective for almost anyone to use. A few simple and practical benefits of CBD are that it is anti anxiety, anti depressant, and a serious anti inflammatory.
MJ: Do you support the decriminalization of cannabis in California?
JE: Absolutely. Californians are smart people and I believe that the decriminalization of cannabis in California will happen in my lifetime. Let's not forget that not too long ago alcohol was illegal in the United States, but the government found a way to regulate and make money off of it and now we see alcohol everywhere. I can't even walk into a drug store without walking past isle after isle of shitty Chardonnay. We are in a time of human enlightenment. The times they are a changing.
MJ: As beverage director of Gracias Madre and Gratitude, what drink do you get asked for the most?
JE: Our twist on a classic margarita, the Purista. A friend brought to my attention recently that the margarita might be the only cocktail associated with happiness. Think about it. Have you ever seen a person drinking a margarita while sad? I dare you to even try to frown while sipping a Purista! It's physically impossible.
MJ: Gracias Madre and Café Gratitude both serve organic, vegan cuisine. What are the benefits of eating vegan?
JE: Eating vegan, in general, isn't synonymous with being "healthy." French fries, unless they are deep fried in animal fat, are technically vegan, but if that comprises most of my diet I don't know that I could call myself healthy. Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre are organic, plant based restaurants. We don't serve processed fake meats, and all ingredients are sourced from local farms and treated with integrity. That is what sets us apart. If you're eating at Gracias Madre, or Cafe Gratitude you can expect that you are eating a balanced meal, made from 100% organic ingredients, that is nourishing to the mind, body, and soul, and that also happens to be delicious.
MJ: What happens to the body when a person stops eating processed foods?
JE: Let's put it this way. Most processed foods have a laundry list of ingredients similar to that of a can of paint. No joke. If what your eating sounds like it was created in a laboratory, that is because it was. Some known chemicals used in the processed foods industry are known to have carcinogenic properties and have direct links to cancer. When talking about processed foods we're also dealing with other issues like obesity, heart disease, etc. In my personal experience, when I stopped eating processed foods, I started to feel great. I slept better, I lost weight, felt more clear headed, and tasted real food in a whole new way. Flavors started to pop. It was like I was eating and enjoying food for the first time.
MJ: What's in store for the future of Gratitude and Gracias Madre?
JE: I'm just having a great time and in my experience people who are having fun rarely have limits. I want to keep pushing the culinary envelope of what is possible and to continue to grow my craft. We're just getting started.