You may be familiar with Humboldt County as the home of illicit growers. It is also home to Humboldt Distillery, a producer of fine, hand-crafted distilled spirits with a dedicated fan base.

In an attempt to meet requests for a vodka with a “local” flavor, distiller Abe Stevens looked into creating a cannabis-infused vodka he could actually sell. The result of Stevens’ pursuit is Humboldt’s Finest and it is now available throughout California and Colorado. It sells for around $29.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle and is 80 proof (40 per cent ABV).

To make this vodka legit, the chemist and distiller needed to turn to THC-free hemp. Stevens found the perfect strain of cannabis sativa to capture the fresh taste of cannabis in a bottle without breaking any laws. Also, because there’s no THC in the equation, drinkers don’t have to worry about getting high from cocktails they make with it.

As we learned with Warren Bobrow’s book Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, & Tonics, mixing THC and alcohol in drinks is a touchy subject that can easily turn you into a zombie if you’re not careful.

Humboldt’s Finest is the best of both worlds: the taste of cannabis without the legal or health implications of mixing weed and liquor. It is a botanical spirit that, at first sniff, is decidedly cannabis, yet the smooth taste and finish leave your mouth refreshed and invigorated. Sure, a few other companies have tried their hand at hemp vodka, but none have taken it as seriously or perfected it as well as Stevens and the small team at Humboldt.

How to Drink Humboldt’s Finest

When you first crack the bottle, give this vodka a taste without anything added to it. The herbal profile is pleasant and surprisingly refreshing. Next, pour a straight shot into a chilled glass and notice how the botanicals begin to open up. After this little tasting experience, your head will be swarming with ideas for mixing it, which is how this vodka shines.

Treat Humboldt’s Finest like a gin or herbal vodka and you’ll have fantastic cocktails. As a gin substitute, you’ll find that the vodka mixes well into any of the clean, crisp drinks gin is best known for. This includes gin and tonics, as well as classic martinis. It’s a particularly good choice for people who don’t enjoy the piney flavors found in gin.

Along those same lines, almost any vodka cocktail is a good place for Humboldt’s Finest. Just avoid extremely flavorful fruits like orange and many berries unless they’re used delicately in the recipe. Instead, pair this vodka with pears, peaches, and apples. You might also try a cucumber cocktail or any recipe that features fresh herbs.

Recipe: High Thyme

Humboldt Distillery’s High Thyme cocktail is clean, lightly flavored, and delicately balanced, just like the popular Gimlet (gin and lime cordial) that is clearly its inspiration.

  • 5 ounces Humboldt’s Finest Vodka
  • 75 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 5 ounce honey syrup*
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

Gently and quickly muddle one sprig of thyme in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add vodka, syrup, and lime juice and shake well. Strain into a chilled double rocks glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with the remaining thyme.

*To make honey syrup, dissolve two parts honey in one part hot water. Allow the syrup to cool before mixing the cocktail.