Food and Drink

Cann's New Pride Campaign Signals Cannabis Cultural Progress

Cheers to being gay and drinking weed.

Photo courtesy of Cann Social Tonics
Photo courtesy of Cann Social Tonics
Photo courtesy of Cann Social Tonics

Of the many rainbow-coloured collabs and queer-centric cannabis campaigns kicking off this June, none was louder, prouder and more star-studded than Cann‘s promotional music video featuring original song, “Taste So Good.”

The ad had it all: group choreography; triumphant, titillating lyrics brimming with double entendres; cameos from Sarah Michelle Gellar and a latex-clad Patricia Arquette; Kesha and Hayley Kiyoko singing and strutting alongside RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Kornbread and Willow Pill-and that’s just within the first minute of the song.

It’s a chaotic, colourful celebration of self-expression, the full spectrum of sexuality and full spectrum, low-dose cannabis beverages. The music video was promoting Cann Lite-the queer-founded cannabis beverage company’s new line of infused sodas featuring no added sugar-and it was a novel moment for the entire cannabis community. To bring Cann’s vision to life, co-founders Luke Anderson and Jake Bullock tapped renowned production company London Alley to steer the ship, as well as the queer talents of Jake Wilson to direct and creative collective House of Avalon to style. Wilson understood their “Lady Marmalade” inspiration, and, as someone who held Britney Spears’ iconic Pepsi commercial close to his heart, he picked up what Cann was putting down.

When it came to the song itself, co-founder Anderson reached out to record producer Leland (who has produced for Troye Sivan, Selena Gomez, and others).

“I have been fangirling over Leland as a musician and songwriter for a long time,” Anderson says. “At the advice Jake, I just reached out cold and said, ‘Hey, wanna do a jingle for my weed soda?'”

Anderson reached out to music artist and friend, VINCINT, to sing the demo and ultimately join the video’s cast, as well as Juanjo Feijoo, Weedmaps‘ CMO, to see if the cannabis education and shopping platform would be willing to partner up to make this major production possible, who he’d met at a Super Bowl party back in February.

Photo courtesy of Cann Social Tonics
Photo courtesy of Cann Social Tonics
Photo courtesy of Cann Social Tonics

“When Cann approached us with this unique and fun idea, it was an easy yes,” Feijoo says. “We are always on the lookout for innovative ways to educate and change attitudes through creative content, particularly given the myriad restrictions that exist in doing cannabis marketing, so we really loved this idea of a music video.”

As a popular destination for consumers looking for information on products, cannabis news, and dispensaries near them-and a delivery platform, in some states-Weedmaps has a better grasp than most of what consumers are looking for, and, according to Feijoo, the company increasingly cares about supporting queer cannabis companies.”Despite being such a critical catalyst in the early stages of this industry in the ’90s in San Francisco and beyond, the LGBTQIA+ community continues to be underrepresented in the cannabis industry,” Feijoo says. Cannabis in America data reports showed that 37% of cannabis consumers want to support LGBTQ+ owned cannabis businesses. “We aim to elevate their presence in the cannabis marketplace and encourage consumers to learn more about these communities’ presence throughout cannabis culture.”

For Cann, being able to execute this music video at this level was as much about celebrating being gay and enjoying weed at one’s own pace as it is the manifestation of their truest, zero-shame, pure pride fantasies.

“Being queer is a big part of my identity, but it’s always been a struggle,” Anderson explains. “When I was straight-leaning, I was ‘too gay,’ and when I started hooking up with guys, I wasn’t “gay enough.” The us vs. them mentality in marginalized communities breeds toxicity and can lead to self-destructive behaviour like over-drinking alcohol. Cann is about radically inclusive, spectrum-like thinking when it comes to who you are and what you drink.”

When thinking of the enduring stigma not only against cannabis, but cannabis in advertising, and cannabis in drinkable forms-the song’s chorus of “a little different Cann taste so good” works on multiple levels.

Cann is no small fish, but that beverage segment of the cannabis market remains a slim part of the pie. Cannabis beverages represent about 3% of all purchases at dispensaries in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Consumers are still wrapping their heads around the idea of drinking weed, and there’s still a lot of work to do normalizing weed beverages as consistent, trustworthy, delicious vehicles for cannabis.

That’s why this campaign matters to the industry at large-it shows that cannabis is worthy of legitimate celebrity endorsement, is more than high-THC dabs, and there are cool, potentially profoundly empowering things happening in cannabis that people should know about.

“I love that we get to show through music and film that cannabis is not what it’s been portrayed as in the past, but something to be enjoyed and shared,” VINCINT says. “I get to be a part of helping someone feel better, on top of making them smile.”

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Lauren Yoshiko is a freelance writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. She writes The Broccoli Report, a bi-weekly newsletter for creative cannabis entrepreneurs.

Food and Drink

Why Makrut Lime Makes a Star Ingredient in Cocktails

The Southeast Asian citrus is intensely aromatic and pairs with rum, gin, tequila, and more.

Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks
Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks
Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks

I grew up with a makrut lime tree in my backyard, admiring the double leaves and dimpled citrus fruit that frequently made their way into our family dinners. Makrut limes, which are sometimes referred to kaffir limes (although the term is controversial and has been widely retired), are native to Southeast Asia, but somehow my mom willed a tree to grow in our Southern California home with great success.

To me, makrut meant savoury Thai food: steamed fish curry wrapped in banana leaves and sprinkled with chiffonade makrut, simmering tom kha gai with floating bits of the hand-torn citrus leaves, and glistening green curry accentuated by the plant’s aroma.

But to others, makrut is an ideal ingredient in cocktails and other drinks. Such is the case for Fish Cheeks, a Thai restaurant in Manhattan known for its seafood dishes and eclectic, complementary cocktail menu. Beverage director Beau Fontano knew he had to include makrut in his creations, especially because the ingredient is so prominent on the food menu. Makrut lime finds its way in several drinks, most notably as a garnish atop the Thank You Kha, a riff on the acidic coconut stew tom kha gai, and the Manao Mao, a rum-based drink that uses makrut lime bitters.

“I don’t love using the word tiki, but if you think of those tiki rum cocktails, makrut definitely works well in those,” Fontano says. “But I also love it in martinis-there’s something really clean about it. And with makrut lime, if you’re just using the leaves, you can do a lot of rapid infusions.”

Fontano only uses the leaves, because the rinds and juice of makrut limes are famously bitter. “Regular lime has a little bit more sugar content, so that’s why it’s much more approachable in cocktails. Makrut limes tend to be more dry,” he explains. “But when you use the leaves in cocktails, you just smack it to wake it up a little bit and it gets that nice citrusy, refreshing aroma which is really fun.”

The leaves are cut fresh, so each drink has the scent of makrut lime leaves wafting off of them. “I’m sure at one point I will get around to it and try to figure out how to use the juice,” he laughs.

Further north at Paper Tiger in Portland, Maine, makrut lime leaves are also prevalent in a cocktail called Something Scandalous, a tequila-based drink intended to be, in the words of bartender Nick Reevy, “crushed easily.”

Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger

“I went with tequila, specifically, because in Maine it’s 80 degrees and humid pretty much all summer,” Reevy explains. “So I made something you kick back easily. Agave has a really nice softness that elevates the makrut lime, and the main flavour in that drink is the Thai basil.”

The drink is an alluring shade of green and is rounded out by cinnamon syrup and falernum. “Makrut lime is really herbal and bright in a way no other citrus is,” Reevy adds. “It’s interchangeable with other limes, but it just adds this whole other depth of flavour.”Makrut lime has even made its way into hard seltzer, albeit a limited edition drop from Lunar. Founder Kevin Wong knew he wanted to add another citrus drink to his rotation as he witnessed the successes of hard lemonades, but already had a yuzu iteration. Makrut lime seemed like a natural follow-up.

Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar

“It has a very intense citrus fragrance, almost perfumey or soapy,” Wong ponders. “Like I could see Le Labo putting out a makrut lime fragrance. It has such a commanding presence and body.”

To tamper down some of the boldness of the makrut lime, the hard seltzer uses makrut lime leaf extract, lime juice, and cane sugar. The aromatics of the lime are present without too much bitterness; instead, the seltzer is grassy, acidic, and dry. Wong recommends pairing the can with spicy foods, especially Szechuan dry pot.

The makrut lime seltzer is currently sold out, and Wong is unsure whether or not another batch is in the works. “I feel like makrut lime is the greatest secret unknown to the Western world,” he says. “It’s in medicine, candy, herbal drinks, cosmetics and aromatherapy. I think we did the seltzer too early, and I don’t know if the world is ready for us to bring it back yet. Maybe in a couple of years.”

But judging by the growing popularity of makrut lime in beverage menus, the comeback might be sooner than he expects.

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.

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