CBD with those fries?

Colorado eateries adding cannabinoids to the menu

Susan France

In Boulder, it’s in your cocktail. Your sourdough brioche bun is glazed with it in Louisville. It’s on your Lucky Charms in Arvada and in your beer in Aurora. Even coffee and doughnuts in Denver get a dose of it. Yet it’s hard to find on menus elsewhere in the U.S., and it’s still not entirely legal.

“It” is CBD, the geeky, non-partying little brother of THC which is suddenly very popular. CBD — cannabidiol — is a non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant. It won’t get you stoned but seems to be good for fighting inflammation and relieving anxiety and pain. Now, even mainstream pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens are going to carry CBD-infused products.

Some CBD-infused topical treatments and tinctures are available at natural foods markets but not at many restaurants. All the CBD in food, and any you can buy outside a dispensary, is extracted from nearly THC-free hemp, mostly grown in Colorado. Consumable CBD extracted from cannabis is sold at dispensaries. 

Getting CBD on the happy-hour menu hasn’t been all giggles. In other states food inspectors have banned cafes from offering CBD-infused fare. Some financial service providers have refused to process transactions involving CBD. 

The Food and Drug Administration will hold a public hearing in May to finally review rules regulating the use of CBD in restaurant food and drinks. 

All that eateries know right now is that they can’t claim that CBD doughnuts have specific health benefits, according to the Food and Drug Administration. 

Colorado’s Cannabinoid Cuisine

Hemp may be legal but the details are still being worked out, as was the case with marijuana. Naturally, Colorado is the epicenter of this culinary earthquake. 

“This is Boulder. It’s no problem,” says John Callahan, owner of Boulder’s The Root Kava Bar. He has not encountered any difficulties introducing his Mango CBD Tonic and the new Blueberry Chronic Tonic. 

Callahan tells customers that CBD is subtle compared to THC. “It’s not a very cognizant effect but it is calming. It is a misconception that you never feel CBD. You can feel it in high doses,” he says. 

Figuring out an appropriate dose of CBD to put in a smoothie has been a challenge for restaurants and bars. Most have chosen to err on the highly conservative side and only add 5 to 20 mg of CBD per serving. According to Callahan, that’s a mistake. 

“Experts say you need at least 40 mg for CBD to be effective, and 80 mg to feel it. Some people use 100 mg or more. Using 12 or 15 mg of CBD is not enough to do anything,” Callahan says. 

What is essential when buying or using hemp CBD oil is to verify the quality of the source. Look for a full spectrum oil, one containing all the other helpful cannabinoids except THC so you get the enhanced “entourage effect.” 

Some of the local businesses have an unofficial age limit of 18 or 21 for purchasing CBD food and drink, but admit that they never have to enforce it. Your typical 16-year-old isn’t going to pay the $3 to $5 CBD surcharge for a dietary supplement.   

Where to Taste CBD Buns, Smoothies, Beer 

Besides The Root Kava Bar, there are just a couple of Boulder eateries where you can order CBD. At River and Woods, CBD is available in cocktails, mocktails and other beverages. One recent house cocktail, the River in the Woods, featured gin, amaretto and pine needle syrup with a flaming green chartreuse float, CBD oil and blood orange peel. 

At Shine Restaurant and Potion Bar, you can add 25 mg of hemp oil to any beverage including the uplifting Fairy Bubbles potion, made with pomegranate juice, lemon juice, honey and hibiscus. 

Precision Pours offers CBD-infused coffee, and CBD can be added to coffee and milk drinks. The Louisville shop also serves CBD-glazed sourdough brioche buns. In Longmont, the Rib House combines barbecue and cheesy corn with CBD-infused drinks like piña coladas and hurricanes. 

CBD can be added to smoothies at Twisted Smoothie in Wheat Ridge and breakfast cereal and milkshakes at The Cereal Box in Arvada. Dad and Dude’s Breweria in Aurora brews George Washington’s Secret Stash IPA, one of the nation’s only CBD beers.

In Denver, the classic pairing — coffee and doughnuts — is a trio with CBD. Several local cafes brew Denver-roasted Strava Craft Coffee, which infuses coffee beans with full spectrum hemp CBD oil. Blue Sparrow Coffee has CBD-infused nitro cold brew on tap. 

Two artisan doughnut shops openly glaze. Glazed & Confuzed Doughnuts in Aurora and Denver serves a CBD-glazed doughnut topped with a candied fresh hemp leaf. Habit Doughnut Dispensary and Carbon Cafe in Denver serves CBD cold brew and kombucha on tap along with CBD-glazed doughnuts. 

Even The Nickel in Denver’s posh Hotel Teatro has debuted tasty cocktails and mocktails mixed using full spectrum hemp oil infused with turmeric for extra anti-inflammatory effect.  

(And that doesn’t include the CBD-infused green chile mac and cheese produced by Boulder FishSki Provisions and Bjorn’s CBD-infused Colorado Honey.)

Local Food News

Among the items available at the early Boulder County Farmers Markets were purple daikon radishes and pea shoots (Ollin Farms), cinnamon cap and maitake mushrooms (Hazel Dell), baby mache and chard (Black Cat Farm), leeks and parsnips (Monroe Farm), tat soi (Rocky Mountain Farm) and black radishes and organic cornmeal (Aspen Moon Farm). … Caroline Glover of Aurora’s Annette restaurant is one of the 2019 Best New Chefs for Food and Wine magazine. … Not all CSAs are full of rutabagas. The Experiential CSA at Boulder’s Pastures of Plenty Farm does include weekly veggies but also flowers, recipes, treats and on-farm cooking classes and dinners. … Coming soon: Vermont-based Gakku Ramen will open at 1119 13th. St., Boulder; A second location of Boulder’s Rincon del Sol in Nederland in the former Dot’s Diner location; Boulder Taco Fest is July 27 (not a Tuesday) at Foothills Community Park. 

Words to Chew On

“The food I’m going to cook for my children is going to be diverse. Why? Because diversity in their palate is going to create diversity in their mind.” — Chef Dominique Crenn  

John Lehndorff is an editor at the Cannabis Genomics Research Initiative. He hosts Radio Nibbles on KGNU. Podcasts: news.kgnu.org/category/radio-nibbles