A Lifestyle blog based in Sonoma County, in the heart of Wine Country. Amber is an outspoken voice for local activism, local wine tourism, and more.

Happy Hour: 420 Inspired Cocktails with Emerald Peat

Just in time for Happy Hour: 420 inspired cocktails by Emerald Peat, and Humboldt Distillery's Humboldt's Finest

With January 1st, 2018 right around the corner, regulations are changing for California. Soon anyone 21 and over will have access to marijuana dispensaries without a doctor's recommendation. In celebration of this, I traveled to the Barrel Room in San Francisco. Usually closed on Sundays, the Barrel Room was open for a fun and unique tasting experience where I was invited to try 3 newly crafted 420 inspired cocktails with Emerald Peat.

The Barrel Room has a long, interesting history that dates all the way back to the alcohol Prohibition days. We're talking underground tunnels, hidden hallways, and a haunted speakeasy downstairs. I'm not sure if it was my hyper-excitement that ultimately led to my scare in thinking that there may have been an extra "entity" accompanying us during the tour, but I'm pretty sure the ghost, and Robert and I all had a moment. We decided to keep the tour above ground after that!

Emerald Peat is a fine grind redwood bark product that is naturally sustainable. It is a local lumber byproduct used in custom soil blends and is used for moisture retention within the soil. Here in Northern California, redwoods are a big deal. This region is known for its vast redwood forests, and the Emerald Peat product comes from sustainably-managed, privately owned timberlands, in Mendocino County.

Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt County are known around the world for their cannabis producing markets. The area within the Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity County is referred to as the 'Emerald Triangle', due to it being the largest marijuana producing region in the nation. Much like the local wine industry here, the cannabis market thrives on its ability to stand out from local competitors via custom soil blends, bio-dynamic farming practices, and organic farming culture. Cannabis has been a hushed industry for many years, but with the Prop 64 going into effect January 1, 2018, the stigma is beginning to fade. Whatever your stance on the product, one cannot deny that there is a huge market for it.

So why Emerald Peat and cannabis-inspired cocktails? Emerald Peat plays an important role in the cultivation of custom soil blends for farming, as well as the cultivation of cannabis. The two go hand in hand, really. So, when presented with the opportunity to test out three Emerald Peat 420 inspired cocktails, I welcomed the uniqueness of the experience. For the drinks, all recipes were made with Northern California-based Humboldt Distillery's Humboldt's Finest Cannabis Vodka.

Free of the THC compound, the vodka does not contain any psychotropic effects. Locally grown cannabis sativa is infused into the vodka, giving it a unique flavor and herbal aroma that makes Humboldt's Finest a popular and unique spirit. It is legal in all 50 states. Made in Humboldt County, the distillery uses waters sourced from a redwood forest watershed. And while you certainly won't get high from these cocktails, the 40% alcohol content is sure to give you one hell of a buzz!

To really bring the redwoods and cannabis together, Barrel Room bartender Sam Elder created a unique twist on the Humboldt's Finest vodka; he flash-infused it with local redwood needles, resulting in a fresh new flavor that is a unique reflection of this local area. Read on below to learn about the inspiration process from Sam, and to create these fun 420 inspired cocktails yourself!

Photography: Sosatography

Redwood needle flash-infused Humboldt's Finest vodka 

The "Emerald Peat" Cocktail 

Sam Elder making the "Italian Lost in the Redwoods" Cocktail

The "Lady Emerald" Cocktail

Can you describe your process of creating a new recipe? How do you find inspiration?
My cocktails are influenced by seasonality, food, inspiration from colleagues and classic cocktail books. The book, The Flowing Bowl by William Schmidt is always my go to.

How did you create the recipe for the Emerald Peat? What was your creative process and why did you choose the specific ingredients that you did?
I wanted the essence of Humboldt County to be experienced in the cocktail.  The redwood needle flash infusion was something I hadn’t tried before and it was successful.  I tried to sous-vide the pine needles and flavor was too strong.  The Humboldt’s Finest vodka has a really interesting dried herbaceous flavor that was fun to work with for these 420 inspired cocktails.

Out of the drinks you’ve created, do you have a favorite? 
The Emerald Peat is definitely my favorite because of the complex earthy flavors that I’m drawn to but I could drink a pitcher of the Lady Emerald French 75 inspired cocktail.  It’s a great Sunday brunch drink.

What makes the Emerald Peat unique from other drinks that you’ve made?
I’ve never worked with vodka that was made with cannabis sativa before.  I’m not typically drawn to vodka-based cocktails but this was inspiring and fun to work with.

What made you choose the Humboldt Distillery’s Humboldt’s Finest vodka for your drinks? What makes this vodka unique to you?
The subtle and unique flavors that the distillers pulled from the cannabis seeds are indeed unique.  I plan to work with more of their spirits.


Emerald Peat: made with Humboldt’s Finest vodka infused with cannabis sativa.  The vodka was flashed infused with redwood needles, then was mixed with lemon bitters, St. George Bruto Americano, Cynar and sake.
  • 2 ounce Humboldt Distillery's Humboldt's Finest Cannabis Vodka flash infused with redwood needles
  • .25 ounce Cynar
  • .25 ounce Sake
  • .50 ounce St. George Bruto Americano
  • 1 dash of lemon bitters

Italian Lost in the Redwoods (Collins style cocktail): made with Humboldt’s finest vodka, Strega Italian liquor, lemon juice, simple syrup and topped with soda.
  • 2 ounces Humboldt Distillery's Humboldt's Finest Cannabis Vodka
  • .5 ounces Strega
  • .75 ounces lemon juice
  • .25 ounces simple syrup
  • Top with soda water

Lady Emerald (French 75 inspired cocktail): made with Humboldt’s finest vodka, Giffard apricot liqueur; St George spiced pear liquor, lemon juice, a touch of simple syrup, topped with sparkling wine and orange zest.
  • 1 ounce Humboldt Distillery's Humboldt's Finest Cannabis Vodka
  • .5 ounce apricot and spiced pear liqueur
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • .25 simple syrup
  • Top with champagne and an orange twist

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A Mused Blog | A Northern California Sonoma County Blog