November 19, 2021

Be A CBD Bartender! CBD Bar Basics

Want to dazzle your guests with something a little out of the ordinary? Try asking “Would you like CBD in that?” when you’re preparing their drinks.

Beyond inspiring “oohs” and “aahs” as a cocktail ingredient, CBD can be a great alcohol alternative. Other than the uplifting vibes it inspires, it’s non-intoxicating.

It’s versatile, too. Make CBD cocktails, mocktails, lattés, smoothies, and more with a single bottle of CBD tincture.

With all these advantages plus wellness-boosting properties, it’s no surprise that CBD oil has been bubbling up on cocktail menus for some time now with rave reviews. You can easily bring this cutting-edge trend into your home or professional bar by ordering CBD online or stocking up locally.

This guide is here to help your inner CBD barfly flourish and maximize the enjoyment of each and every drop.

CBD: The Not-So-Secret Ingredient

The first thing to wrap your mind around when making CBD concoctions is that CBD should be treated like an ingredient. Meaning…

  • Make sure you’re using a legal ingredient. Broad-spectrum CBD is legal in all 50 US states. Full-spectrum CBD may be legal in some states, but if it contains THC, it’s probably not legal to consume in public.
  • When you’re serving a CBD-infused drink to others, let them know there’s CBD inside. Some people avoid cannabis products for work, health, religious, or personal reasons. In short, surprise CBD isn’t cool, so don’t do it.
  • Quality matters. Make sure you use pure CBD made from organically-cultivated hemp and carefully sourced ingredients.
  • Finally, keep in mind that CBD isn’t just something to squirt in at the last moment. Even unflavored CBD drops have a subtle natural flavor that can alter the final product. As with any ingredient, the properties (flavor, aroma, viscosity, etc.) should be considered when creating the drink recipe.

There are different types of CBD drops that perform better in certain situations, so you need to know which is the right ingredient for what you’re mixing up. Let’s talk about those.

The Best CBD Drops For Drinks & When To Use Them

The two main types of CBD drops (aka CBD tinctures) you’ll find are CBD oil drops and water-soluble CBD drops. Flavored versions of these are excellent for cocktail and culinary purposes.

Although CBD drops are also called CBD tinctures, true tinctures are made via solvent extraction. These are hard to come by, and they have a strong flavor that’s more detectable in drinks. They contain alcohol as well, which can make NA beverages not truly NA. For these reasons, CBD oil drops and water-soluble drops are a bartender’s best friend.

Become an expert in using CBD in the kitchen — readHow To Bake & Cook With CBD According To Science next.

CBD Oil Drops

CBD oil drops are made of CBD (obviously), a carrier oil, and sometimes flavoring and other ingredients.

These drops behave like oil. They work best in drinks that contain fat, such as white Russians, hot buttered rum, and coffee drinks.

CBD oil should be shaken or stirred in very well, otherwise, the oil ends up floating on top of the drink. But this can work in a bartender’s favor when you’re going for a layered or “stacked” effect, like with a B-52 shot. Fancy!

Water-Soluble CBD Drops

Water-soluble CBD drops have the same contents as CBD oil drops, but they’ve received some special treatment, too — nano emulsification makes their particles extra small, which allows them to dissolve in water. The addition of an emulsifier helps water-soluble CBD drops remain water-soluble.

Because they fully incorporate into any beverage, water-soluble CBD drops are the go-to for most mixed drinks.

Flavored CBD Drops

As any mixologist knows, flavor matters. Flavored CBD drops can elevate drinks by reinforcing or complimenting other flavors, or adding subtle notes to spirits.

Think infused water-type flavor when added to vodka, and extra tiki essence when you add tropical CBD drops to your hurricane.

Using CBD In Mocktails & Cocktails

Now that you’ve dialed in which CBD drops go where and when, you can focus on the fun part: mixing drinks! Here’s your intro course to CBD mixology.

Make Drinks With Dosage In Mind

A splash of this here, a shot of that there. It can be easy to lose track of how much alcohol has gone into a drink, and a serving of CBD is far smaller than a serving of alcohol.

As the bartender, it’s your responsibility to keep track of every drop and dose. That means math. Yep, that’s on you! That’s why they pay you the big bucks — or at least shower you with accolades.

The good news is the CBD serving size and potency are on the package. You may have to do some basic calculations depending on the strength of the CBD.

Also consider how many drinks will be consumed and whether there’s any other CBD involved, like in garnishes.

Based on this info, you can decide whether you want to make drinks full-strength or take it down a notch or two.

If you want some pointers on measuring, we have an article calledMaking Sense Of CBD Measurements you can reference. 

Put A CBD Twist On The Classics

The easiest way to get started with CBD-infused drinks is to mix it into classic cocktails. Here are some combinations featuring flavored CBD tinctures to wet your whistle.

  • Strawberry mojito flavored water-soluble CBD in a strawberry mojito
  • Peppermint flavored CBD oil in a grasshopper
  • Tropical flavored water-soluble CBD in a sex on the beach
  • Vanilla flavored CBD oil in a Spanish coffee

Curious about what happens when you mix CBD with alcohol? Visit our articleCBD + Alcohol: Here’s What We Know after this.

Sweeten The Deal With CBD Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is used to sweeten drinks, and CBD can easily be added. Try this CBD-infused syrup in lemon drops, mojitos, old-fashioned whisky cocktails, and more!

Makes one cup of simple syrup. Two tablespoons = one dose of CBD.


  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 8 droppersful water-soluble CBD


  • Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
  • Pour the syrup into an airtight container and allow to cool slightly. Add the CBD and shake gently to combine.
  • Add a label to the container that says CBD simple syrup - 2 tbsp = one serving with the date. Store in the refrigerator.

Give That Finishing Touch With CBD-Infused Garnishes

Sweet garnishes like cherries and fruit slices can be infused with CBD for hemp-based flair. Simply add your water-soluble CBD drops to a bowl with your garnishes and let the fruit and cannabinoids mingle.

If you want something less hands-on, CBD gummies work just as well! Skewer them as you would a cherry, and pile on some other fruit for a fun snack to accompany a drink. Just remember that one CBD gummy = one full dose, so it might best be saved for drinks that don’t contain CBD.

Sadly, savory garnishes like olives and cocktail onions aren’t ideal for infusing with CBD because they’ve already soaked up their brine.

Developing CBD Drink Recipes

With all of the above under your belt, you’re probably itching to get started on making your own drink recipes. The sky's the limit — just remember these basics.

  • Water-soluble CBD drops work in any drink.
  • CBD oil drops work in drinks that contain fat, such as half-and-half and creamy liqueurs. They can also float on top of drinks.
  • Calculate the dosage per drink including garnishes.
  • Consider using CBD simple syrup in sweet drinks.
  • Try a CBD-infused garnish in addition to or instead of adding CBD to a drink.

CBD Bartending: Neat!

When you want a booze-free drink or a fresh take on your usual, CBD might be just the ticket. Let this unique ingredient shine in classic cocktails and new inventions in the glass or as a garnish.

Between CBD oil and water-soluble CBD drops, you’ll be fully equipped to cannabidi-all your drinks.

Here’s to no CBD surprises, minding your measurements, and serving up only the best with high-quality CBD. Cheers to that!


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