How CBD has become the USA’s coolest food and drink ingredient
The latest “it” ingredient to hit menus is CBD, short for cannabidiol, one of over 60 cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant (more commonly known as marijuana).
Unlike THC, the most well-known cannabinoid, CBD has no psychoactive effects. So, while it won’t get you high, its reported therapeutic properties have driven CBD sales and popularity in the wellness industry.
While researchers are still trying to determine CBD’s effects, some studies suggest it can help treat inflammation, pain, anxiety and seizures.
The controversy around this superfood stems from inconsistent cannabis regulation at the federal and state level. Despite growing legalization, the DEA still considers cannabis — including CBD, unless sourced from industrial hemp — an illegal drug.
To date, the FDA hasn’t approved any CBD products apart from an epilepsy drug called Epidiolex. State laws vary and are changing all the time.
Take California, a state with legalized recreational cannabis and a famously vibrant cannabis cuisine scene: Just this summer, the California Department of Public Health stopped the sale of CBD additives in food and drink until it receives full FDA approval.
This left restaurants such as Gracias Madre and Superba Food + Bread scrambling to change their menus to accommodate the rule.
With the Golden State out of the culinary cannabis spotlight at the moment, it’s time to highlight some other less celebrated locations where you can find CBD-infused treats out in the wild.
From a sleek, wellness compound in Miami to a Portland dive bar known for late-night hot dogs, here are the coolest spots to find CBD on the menu (for now).
Adriaen Block, Queens, NY
This newly opened Queens cocktail bar and restaurant is a CBD mecca, showcasing the ingredient front and center.
For the uninitiated, the menu offers a word of advice: “CBD will not get you high, but you may experience a calming sensation.”
The infused drinks include the Stoney Negroni, Rolled Fashioned, and the Bakin’ & Eggs, which is made with Pineau des Charente, Lillet Blanc, blood orange bitters, egg white, and garnished with crisped bacon.
Teetotalers can get in on the action too, thanks to an equally thoughtful selection of CBD mocktails made with Seedlip, a swanky, non-alcoholic distilled spirit. Not thirsty? Also on offer are entrees with a side of AB CBD sauce or a pillowy blob of CBD-infused whipped cream to top off dessert.
Adriaen Block, 19-33 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105, +1 (718) 686-1391
Broomwagon, Lexington, KY
A community mecca for bike culture, this bicycle shop is also a beer garden and café serving up locally-sourced coffee, creative comfort food and ice-cold crafts and drafts.
Customers bringing in their bike for repairs can enjoy a snack by the mechanic’s work area while they wait, or check out the latest wheels and accessories. (New pannier bag, anyone?)
They’ll add a dose of CBD to any beverage for $2, or you can order a specialty drink like the Sage Advice Latte, with maple and sage-infused syrup, espresso, steamed milk and CBD.
Broomwagon Coffee + Bikes, 800 N. Limestone St., Lexington, KY 40505, +1 (859) 554-6938
Koku, Brooklyn, NY
Think of the Zen Bowl as an ice cream sundae for the Goop set — dairy-free, probiotic-enriched coconut soft-serve heaped with colorful superfood toppings like antioxidant blueberries, nutritious black sesame granola and CBD cacao magic shell.
Available April through October at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg on Saturdays in Williamsburg and Sundays in Prospect Park, it’s allergy-free and utterly Instagrammable.
You can also find the frozen treat at sporadic pop-ups (check their website for upcoming events), but stay tuned: A brick and mortar location is in the works for next year.
Koku, multiple locations
Donnie Vegas, Portland, OR
The coolest downtown Las Vegas dive bar is actually located in Northeast Portland, serving cocktails on tap and cheap, creative hot dogs like the Seoul Dog (kimchi, sambal aioli, scallion) and Tijuana Dog (cream cheese, pico de gallo, jalepeno) until 2:30 am.
They offer Jell-O shots and wine in a can, and a slushee with a hemp-derived twist — the Prickly Pear CBD Margaweeda, made with fresh lime juice, triple sec, silver tequila and prickly pear puree.
Donnie Vegas, 1203 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211, +1 (503) 477-7244
Green Goddess Cafe, Stowe, VT
This homey café, a neighborhood go-to for fresh-pressed juices and tasty breakfast scrambles, was one the first in Vermont to put the wellness ingredient on the menu after “we experienced the benefits of CBD firsthand with our son, who has autism and a tumor disorder,” owner Athena Scheidet says.
One of their most popular specialty drinks is the Jamaican Me Shake, a CBD smoothie with tropical fruit, spinach, avocado, organic apple juice and whipped cream.
Green Goddess Cafe, 618 S Main St, Stowe, VT 05672, +1 (802) 253-5255
The James New York NoMad, New York City
Travelers who want a break from Manhattan’s hectic pace don’t even need to leave their boutique hotel room for the latest way to unwind — CBD-infused room service from notable cannabis chef Annabel Drummer.
The in-room dining menu includes spicy meatballs, gorgonzola salad with walnuts and pear, and house tater tots. Or, you can pick a prepackaged CBD-infused treat like Chef For Higher Gummies, Grön Chocolate bars, and even Bark Avenue dog treats for stressed pets.
The James NoMad, 22 E 29th St, New York, NY 10016, +1 (212) 532-4100
VegeNation, Las Vegas
Downtown Las Vegas’s Fremont East area has become an artsy hub for plant-based eats and health-conscious cocktails — the antithesis of the Strip’s bottle service and Champagne-shower decadence.
Affordable global street food at VegeNation is locally grown and plant-based, and even the cocktails have a positive spin — particularly The Changemaker, a refreshing, infused whiskey tea made with local distilled liquor and tea from Bloomin’ Desert Herb Farm, a brew of rosemary, ginger, holy basil, red clover, nettle, peppermint, clove and raw CBD oil in purified water.
VegeNation, 616 Carson Ave #120, Las Vegas, NV 89101, +1 (702) 366-8515
Plant Miami, Miami
Miami isn’t all neon lights, and pumping basslines. When the South Beach scene feels like it’s all too much, find your Zen at Sacred Space Miami.
The minimalist oasis in once-gritty Wynwood features a lush meditation garden, yoga and wellness classes, and Plant Miami, an organic, vegan farm-to-table restaurant.
The tropical Plant Medicine cocktail — with fresh pineapple, house coconut milk, dark rum, and a dose of CBD oil — is the perfect blend of Miami vibes and mindfulness.
Plant Miami, 105 Northeast 24th St, Miami, FL, 33137, +1 786 621 5006
River and Woods, Boulder
The comfort food at this historic cottage includes community-sourced dishes like Aunt Penny’s Mac & Cheese with mushrooms and onion-potato crunch and John’s Gnocchi Verde with spinach, Reggiano cream, and lemon zest.
There are family-friendly picnic tables in back, as well as an adult-centric Airstream that serves as an outdoor bar, where you can add a dose of CBD to cocktails like the Sloe Descent, with Luxardo amaretto, Spirit Works sloe gin, orange and pomegranate juice.
(They’re in the process of formulating a dedicated CBD-infused wellness cocktail, too.)
River and Woods, 2328 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302, (303) 993-6301
Coalition Brewing, Portland, OR
This brewery changed the game with Oregon’s first commercially produced CBD-infused beer, Two Flowers IPA, highlighting the kinship between cannabis and hops with an aromatic, grassy flavor.
The beer has become so popular that you can find it all over town at establishments like EastBurn Public House and Dot’s Café, though it’s worth a visit to the tasting room’s new patio where you can enjoy it in its original birthplace.
Coalition Brewing, 2705 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214, +1 (503) 894-8080
Zenbarn, Waterbury, VT 05676
You haven’t reached peak Vermont until you’ve visited this rustic barn-turned-restaurant’s periodic “Hemp and Hops” dinners, where five-course meals are infused with CBD and paired with local craft beers.
It’s a community-focused space, with a yoga studio upstairs and live music at night. (Be prepared to hear Grateful Dead covers.)
The daily menu offers CBD-spiked aioli for their burgers, including the vegetarian Zen Burger, a local black bean patty piled with cheddar, chipotle crema, avocado, lettuce, and crispy onion.
There’s also CBD honey vinaigrette for salad, a CBD brownie sundae with house-made CBD caramel, and clever CBD cocktails with names like Gin and Chronic, Le Verde and Up in Smoke.
Zenbarn, 179 Guptil Rd, Waterbury Center, VT 05677, +1 (802) 244-8134
Grön Cafe Portland, OR
If there was a Willy Wonka of cannabidiol, it would Christine Smith, founder of craft chocolate company GrönCBD.
The manufactory’s confections contain CBD extracted from a hemp alternative — evergreen tree bark combined with citrus peels.
The front of house is a drop-in cafe, where you can order CBD Drinking Chocolate served with whipped cream and a shortbread cookie, as well as infused chocolate lattes, steamers, iced chocolate drinks, chocolate-filled croissants, and truffles.
They’ll indulge your curiosity and your sweet tooth — visitors are encouraged to ask questions or sample the CBD caramel and chocolate sauces, chocolate bars, tinctures and body products.