AUG. 3, 2023 3 AM PT
Just in time for high summer — and even higher temperatures — our Elite Beverage Tasting Squad, a cadre of cannabis consuming co-workers and friends, is at it again after forming last year to taste-test some pot-packed, palate-pleasing potables worthy of picking up and icing down.
This time, of the 18 drink options representing a dozen brands, the off-putting weediness of last year’s drinkable contenders was largely absent. And in the rare instances where it was noticeable this year, the taste of cannabis seemed to lean into — instead of detract from — the overall flavor profile of the beverage.
Another noticeable difference is this: the infused beverage market appears to be moving away from putting all its eggs in one fruity seltzer basket. There are still plenty of those out there. (For example, Wynk’s juicy mango and black cherry fizz seltzers were in the mix this season. They were announced as gold and bronze medal winners, respectively, in the water/sparking water/seltzer category at the inaugural L.A.-based High Spirits Awards.)
2. Klaus Mezzrole
“I’ve spent the better part of 30 years working towards this goal,” master mixologist Warren “the Cocktail Whisperer” Bobrow wrote in an email to The Times. He was referring to a curious, complex, cannabis-infused (and non-alcoholic) combination of ginger, lime and rice vinegar that launched last year. Bobrow added that the mix of flavors was “originally influenced by the classic Ti Punch from St. Barts. The addition of the ginger was to settle the gut when sailing a yacht in choppy seas.” I found Bobrow’s origin story amusing because the first thing I thought of when I first tasted this intriguing elixir was the thirst-quenching switchel (a.k.a. haymaker’s punch) that Vermont farmers used to swig out of gallon jugs in the heat of the summer hay fields. (Yes, I’m a former Vermonter kickin’ it in SoCal.)
Whatever the historical roots (some think the New England beverage actually may have originated in the Caribbean), one thing is clear: Bobrow’s three-decade quest has paid off handsomely. From the backpacking gnome on the swirly colored can (that’d be Klaus) to the artisanal ingredients inside (including Pickett’s ginger beer syrup and lime purée sourced from France), everything about this beverage was a hit with the backyard bunch.
“Yummy, tastes like ginger beer, love the burn,” wrote one of the testers. “It’s the only one that doesn’t taste like it needs something.” “Yummy ginger shot,” jotted another. “Reminds me of a good Moscow mule,” mused a third. “Woo-hoo! Spicy, silly, crazy,” noted a fourth. “Smells like Pine-Sol — but I’m allowed to drink it!”
“Cool can branding — my boy Klaus!” said one squadster, giving a shout-out to the tiny gnomic namesake before turning to its contents. “Extremely pointy, very unique taste … very specifically evoking the taste of melted Luigi’s Italian ice. I love the ginger taste. Burns/tingles my mouth.” Someone else simply scribbled a cartoon heart.
Although you should take our word for it, you don’t have to; two weeks after it landed in our Top 2 came word that Bobrow’s brew had scored a gold medal at the above-mentioned High Spirits Awards in the non-alcoholic, ready-to-drink cocktail category — along with our top pick below.
$48 per four-pack, 5 milligram THC and 16 calories per 8-ounce can. Additional information and ordering details (currently available via delivery-only in the L.A. area) at drinkklaus.com.