Much to the delight of enthusiasts and aficionados across the nation, the rapidly-growing number of states that have legalized recreational marijuana has in turn given rise to the so-called “cannabis fine dining” industry. With leading pioneers coming primarily out of California and Colorado, the cannabis cuisine phenomenon is quickly catching on across the country thanks to the efforts of talented chefs, celebrity caterers and imaginative public relations campaigns.
What exactly is cannabis fine dining, in a nutshell?
Cannabis cuisine employs organic compounds present within the cannabis plant to put new and creative twists to culinary favorites in every category. From complex desserts and pastries to gastronomical standards from around the world, cannabis cuisine makes use of compounds that have been established in scientific literature as beneficial to the human body. Using ingenuity and know-how, chefs dovetail the taste and scent profiles of different cannabis strains to create a truly unique flavor and aroma experience.
Currently, the most commonly used cannabis compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as the plant’s primary cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), which can also be sourced from hemp. Terpenoids have recently made their entrance onto center stage as well, featured in the form of both cannabis terpenes and synthetic terpenes across an impressive array of drinks and entrées.
Over the last decade and particularly with the passing of the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act, the cannabis industry as a whole has matured into a bona fide billion-dollar business space. From here, we’ll take a quick look at three ways cannabis fine dining is quickly carving out a niche in this burgeoning industry.
Highballs with a Twist
When terpene-infused cannabis cocktails first debuted at the 1864 Tavern in Reno, it was obvious the concept was bound to go into orbit and soon. Today, cities like San Francisco, Denver and Portland are densely populated with cannabis watering holes, with so-called “budtenders” offering up infused cocktails, beers and mocktails. And with the opening of America’s first cannabis cafe in Hollywood, light snacking and Super Bowl viewing parties have been thrown into the mix to great public effect.
A Range of Restaurants for The Canna-Curious
Cannabis connoisseurs seeking a more refined experience have met their match with the opening of several cannabis restaurants across the country. Staffed with anything from budding “420 chefs” to actual celebrity chefs looking to broaden their horizons, cannabis fine dining is a treat every time — and certainly an experience to remember. Yelp reviews from adventuresome eaters range from sated and stimulated to downright enlightened, signaling nothing but blue skies ahead for aspiring chefs and prospective cannabis restaurateurs.
Cannabis Dinner Parties
Creative entrepreneurs are bringing cannabis into new markets at an alarming rate, and a perfect example of this phenomenon is the cannabis catering space. Fueled by celebrity socialites on social media and word of mouth on the street, successful caterers become celebrities in their own right and enjoy ubiquitous name recognition throughout their city.
After building formidable brands as social media sensations, some caterers go on to either establish or partner with events companies (membership-structured, of course) aimed at elevating their in-state cannabis fine dining scene even further.
High Times Ahead
With its foundation set upon a rapidly maturing industry and positive public reception, cannabis cuisine is expected to go nowhere but up in 2020 and beyond. And with recreational legalization set to pass in even more states this year, the market is slated to grow exponentially alongside the industry to boot. For chefs, entrepreneurs and cannabis enthusiasts alike, there’s never been a better time to go green.