Cannabis-Infused Beverages: A Buzz Without the Hangover

Discover the world of cannabis-infused beverages where innovation meets social acceptance. Learn about onset, ingredients, and dosage specific to cannabis beverages. Explore how consumers are reducing alcohol intake with cannabis beverages, the benefits of these drinks in avoiding hangovers, and trustable beverage brands.

Why Some People Drink Weed

There are many ways to consume cannabis, but what if you ditched your joint for a drink? Where innovations in the weed industry meet the socially accepted nature of drinking, cannabis-infused beverages now have a seat at the table – providing potent and flavorful options that will get you buzzing without the hangover.
After listening to this episode you will have a better understanding of…

  • Onset, ingredients and dosage specific to beverages for optimal cannabis experience
  • How consumers are decreasing alcohol intake with cannabis beverages
  • The benefits of cannabis beverages to reduce hangovers
  • Beverages brands you can trust with your weed high

Episode Guests

Judy Yee | @madlillydrinks
Victoria Pustynsky | @aroraelixir

Episode Resources & Additional Reading

Check out the world of cannabis beverages produced by Victoria & Judy’s teams at and

More Episodes from the Podcast

Podcast Episode Full Transcription

0:00:00.4 April Pride, host: This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over.


0:00:10.4 Victoria Pustynsky, Aurora Elixir: There are some products that we see very often that have these list of ingredients in their wellness products, in their adaptogens and nootropics, and it’s like 500 different [chuckle] ingredients that I’ve never heard of before, and I think to me that’s more intimidating than just seeing cannabis extract and sparkling water.

0:00:35.9 April Pride, host: It’s no secret to anyone who survived the pandemic that substance use of all kinds saw a dramatic increase. With stress and uncertainty at the wheel for much of 2020 and into 2021, many of us reach for something to take the edge off. In many ways, the pandemic was a breakout year for weed where not only did we witness a 46% increase in legal sales from 2019 to 2020 to the tune of over $17 billion, but the average consumer also spent approximately 33% more on cannabis than they had previously. While some hoarded toilet paper, others stockpiled pot. But weed was not alone in its increased popularity. When it came to alcohol consumption, studies have shown that 60% of Americans reported drinking more during the pandemic. When the coronavirus first thrust American life into quarantine from the beginning of March into mid-April 2020, alcohol sales at liquor and grocery stores were up by more than 50%, and online sales up by 262%. While these have dipped and balanced out somewhat over the past year, statistics show that alcohol sales at shops remain 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels, and online sales remain steadily over 200% above the previous year. And without a doubt, this alcohol is being very much consumed, with approximately a third of those surveyed reporting binge drinking in the last 30 days.

0:02:04.7 April Pride, host: But here’s the kicker, when it comes to cannabis consumption and sales flying sky high, there seems to be cause for celebration. And when it comes to the booze, well, there’s cause for concern. Clearly, we know that despite antiquated laws and social norms, that alcohol poses a far greater threat than weed does to the health and wellness of those consuming it. So if cannabis is safer than alcohol but drinking is more socially acceptable than smoking, why aren’t more people drinking their weed? In this episode of The High Guide, we’ll unpack a few of the essentials to help you figure out if cannabis beverages are a good option for you with a few pro-tips from our high guides, so you can know what to expect regarding the onset, ingredients, and dosage for your desired experience. Let’s meet our high guides for this episode. Judy Lee is the co-founder and co-CEO of K-Zen. The products that they produce include Mad Lilly and S-Shots. Victoria Pustynsky, President and CEO of Astraeus Purveyors, is most well-known for Aurora and the collaboration that they did with Artet in the California market.

0:03:17.3 April Pride, host: Drinking is socially acceptable, and if we drink our weed, it helps to normalize weed. It seems like everyone’s drinking a lot of alcohol during quarantine, but what if they were just drinking weed? Drinking’s also a known behavior, right? We sit around and do it with our friends for a long period of time. And obviously, it’s less intimidating to drink your weed if you don’t smoke or you don’t know how to roll a joint, whatever the case may be. There are some real barriers to entry, but drinking is something that we know how to do. And I think the last reason that drinking is attractive is because it has a more predictable onset, so five to 15 minutes, because it’s being absorbed sublingually versus swallowing and it has to be metabolized through your liver, as food is.

0:04:03.2 April Pride, host: So while cannabis beverages technically fall into the edible category, they are drastically different in their onset and duration due to the manner in which they are absorbed in the body. Sublingual absorption takes a lot of the guesswork out of what to expect regarding your high, as you won’t find yourself waiting for an hour or so for your body to metabolize the cannabinoids and your high to kick in. This is a very sippable, potentially social way to consume your weed with a wide variety of ingredients, dosages, and flavors.

0:04:34.1 April Pride, host: So then we get to the formulation, and that is: What are the ingredients you’re gonna choose? When I look at the ingredients on Mad Lilly, for instance, it’s low, low sugar, low-calorie quality ingredients. So are you focused on that? Is the price point gonna match that, too?

0:04:54.2 Victoria Pustynsky, Aurora Elixir: Our initial intent was to retain the flavor and the aromatics of the plant. I think it wasn’t to have a beverage that was sort of stripped of all of the plant taste and flavor and smells. Obviously, there’s a fine line between bong water and beautiful, citrusy, whole-plant aromatics, so striking that balance was challenging. But I think using a quality ingredient, we found when we get our raw-extract hemp oil, it smells beautiful, and it has these floral qualities and piney-ness to it. So we built our formula with that in mind, just how do we enhance natural flavors rather than try to mask them with something very strong. And we do use sugar, and I think, again, it’s intention. It was really to have a plant-tasting, plant-forward spritz-type drink, and a spritz has sugar in most interpretations of the traditional cocktail, there’s some kind of liqueur which is sweetened. So we use small amounts of sugar just to balance out the bitter notes from the hemp extract. But yeah, there are also considerations about uptake, and we’ve had a product in the market long enough that we’ve been able to test the potency and the consistency and the stability of it. And so far, we just kind of got like “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality about it and it’s working, so we’re keeping it the way that it is. But yeah, there are a lot of options for formulation.

0:06:38.1 April Pride, host: [chuckle] Yes, definitely more natural plant flavor than bong water, please. But when it comes to these quaffable cannabis options, how much weed is in them? Judy, if you would like to talk a little bit about… You have three different products, the formulations of those, it seems like they’re driven by dosing, right? So that’s another outcome that you can start with like, “Okay, we want it to be low dose, or we want it to be super high dose,” and you’ve gone from one extreme to the next, and I would love to talk about that. So yeah, I’m just curious, please share with us your process and how dosing has played into its evolution.

0:07:20.3 Judy Yee, Mad Lilly: Yeah, dosing and how did that play into formulation. I think it really just goes back to, again, who are you trying to develop the the product for, right? End of the day, it’s all about the consumer and who you are trying to delight and compel. And the consumer is very familiar with cannabis, very familiar with THC, and prefer THC. And so we leaned hard on that, and that along with the dosing is the strategy. It’s like, “Look, we’re not gonna try to sell you CBD, we’re not gonna try and go onto health and wellness. Hey, you know you want the good stuff, you know how you use it ’cause you’ve been using it for years. This is just a different format for you. And also, by the way, it tastes great and it hit you just like how you maybe have experienced when you smoke a flower.” And then, that’s what informs the dosing, quite honestly. This is someone that is looking to feel high, but also looking to deal with pain, anxiety, all the things that they have turned to cannabis for years and years when it was illegal and when it was medicinal. So that pretty much is why we have dosed the products the way we’ve dosed, is really to understand the consumer and what they really are after.

0:08:49.3 Victoria Pustynsky, Aurora Elixir: I was in my local dispensary and I overheard a conversation. I’m always kind of looking at the drinks corner, and we only have one or two beverage product brands that are here now, and they’re 40 milligrams, 100 milligrams, and then the lowest dosed one is 25 milligrams. And it’s a can, so it’s not… It’s a single dose. And there was a woman talking to a friend there, and she’s like, “I can’t believe this is 40 milligrams, I don’t want more than 10. And it’s a can, I can’t reseal it. Am I supposed to drink it in four servings? It’s gonna go flat.”

0:09:21.7 April Pride, host: Cannabis beverage markets definitely vary from state to state. With more robust options available in certain shops than others, one must pay close attention to the milligrams in the can or bottle purchased. Oftentimes the same size of bottle will contain double, up to 10 times the THC content. 10 milligram options can be found, but they often sit right next to the 100 milligram options. You can sip them, you can slam them, just know the dose you’re getting into.

0:09:48.1 Victoria Pustynsky, Aurora Elixir: It’s the optimal consumption occasion. People associate intoxication and socialization and all the things that we kind of associate with cannabis consumption. Obviously, we don’t have a product that’s going to be in 7-Elevens nation-wide, but I think that there is a broader consumer. It’s interesting ’cause there’s a lot of products in this space a little bit outside of cannabis, but if we’re looking at non-alcoholic or alternatives to alcohol, which I think our category is part of, there are some products that we see very often that have these list of ingredients in their wellness products, in their adaptogens and nootropics, and it’s like 500 different [chuckle] ingredients that I’ve never heard of before. And I think to me that’s more intimidating than just seeing cannabis extract and sparkling water than to have something that’s like… I’m like, “I don’t know how these things are going to affect me or in combination with one another.”

0:10:52.2 April Pride, host: Well, I think we can all agree that as we emerge from the pandemic, are we there yet, now would be as good a time as any to re-evaluate our relationships with the substances we consume. So if you happen to be looking for a sippable buzz that won’t leave you hung over, a tasty cannabis beverage just might be a great place to start. Keep an eye on the ingredients and potency for your perfect match, and you may find yourself ditching your White Claw for a Weed Claw. [chuckle] And keep an eye out for later this year when I launch a THC beverage with California-based Johnnie. Thanks for listening to this episode of The High Guide, and join me, April Pride, every Friday at 1 PM Pacific time in Clubhouse, where we cover all things A to Z plant-based pleasures. Of course, you’ll find a new episode of The High Guide every Friday. Subscribe and follow wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you’re looking to stay in closer contact, give us a follow on Instagram,, and subscribe to our newsletter at

Episode Credits

Producer & Host: April Pride Audio Engineer: Nick Patri, Cloud Studios Theme music: Cheri Dub, Morris Johnson

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