HEMP HAPPY HOUR
Exploring cannabis-spiked cocktails and coffee in Reno.
WRITTEN BY CLAIRE CUDAHY
PHOTOS BY ASA GILMORE
Dylan Evans, Co-Owner of 1864 Tavern in Reno.
Gummy bears, cookies, lollipops, chocolates, cereal bars. Since it became legal recreationally in Nevada and California, cannabis has made its way into many treats — and cocktails and coffee are no exception.
Tucked in Winners Crossing shopping center off South Virginia Street in Reno is Pianissimo Coffee and More, a cozy café owned by husband and wife Larry and Cheryl Appel. Inside, armchairs and love seats are accented with red pillows where customers casually sip lattes and work from their laptops while classical music plays in the background.
It’s not exactly the environment you’d expect for the first CBD café in Reno.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana, both of which are varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa. While marijuana contains a high concentration of THC — the psychoactive cannabinoid that makes you feel stoned — hemp contains less than 0.03 percent THC. CBD does not have the same intoxicating effects but is known for being a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Though research still is limited due to legal complexities, CBD has been found helpful in treating myriad ailments, from migraines and epilepsy to anxiety and pain. It can be consumed in edibles and oils, applied as a lotion or cream, or smoked.
The Appels were introduced to CBD several years ago when Larry suffered a stroke caused by atrial fibrillation.
“We found out (the atrial fibrillation) was caused by sleep apnea, and because he’s a pilot, his sleep cycle was horrible,” Cheryl says. “We researched and found out that CBDs can help with sleep disorders, so we put him on it. He’s been on CBDs for two years … We got rid of the (atrial fibrillation), and he’s back to healthy.”
After moving down from Washington state, the couple opened Pianissimo in Reno about a year ago. In addition to coffee and light fare, they sell house-made CBD chocolates and CBD body butter and give customers the option to add CBD to their drinks.
CBD is tasteless and odorless, so a few drops won’t be noticeable in a matcha smoothie or mocha.
“When we first started we had these two men kind of sneak in, and they went up to the counter and whispered, ‘Do you have CBDs?’” Cheryl recalls with a laugh. “When we started out, I would say one out of 10 customers bought the CBD, and now it’s probably more like six or seven out of 10. It’s going to become the norm.”
CBD is not the only cannabis component to find its way into drinks in Reno.
In September, 1864 Tavern on California Avenue in Reno debuted two cocktails featuring cannabis terpenes — the aromatic oils that give cannabis varieties distinct flavors such as citrus, mint, and pine. More than 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant so far, and they play a role in differentiating the effects of cannabis. Some have been found to promote relaxation and reduce stress, while others elevate mood and increase alertness.
From left, the Silly Wabbit and the Lazy Daisy are CBD cocktails now available at 1864 Tavern
“We’ve always focused on fresh here. We make our own tonics. We juice our own fruit. We make our own tinctures,” says 1864 Tavern co-owner Dylan Evans. “We have a really good friend down in L.A., Dave [Whitton], at the bar Prank. He introduced us to this health side of terpenes. Since we already do everything in house and we try to do it as healthy as we can, we thought, why not try and transition into another realm of wellness while you drink?”
Though the terpenes in a cocktail by no means reverse the effect alcohol has on the liver and other internal organs, the anti-inflammatory effect can help mitigate some of the impact, Evans says.
The terpenes used at 1864 are crafted by BotanaVista, a company owned by Prank bar and Nevada Botanical Science, a Reno-based cannabis cultivation, production, and educational facility. Just a couple drops go into each drink.
The Lazy Daisy cocktail contains Tanqueray gin, fresh grapefruit juice, lime, chamomile ghum syrup, Amaro Angeleno, and formula 51 terpenes — a BotanaVista proprietary blend. The Silly Wabbit combines cantaloupe juice, Reposado tequila, fresh lemon, agave, and Prank’s happy terpenes.
“It took me a while to buy into it when they first approached us about it,” Evans says. “Especially with the Silly Wabbit, I really noticed this stimulation, but not like when you drink coffee. It was subtler, like, ‘All right, I’m happy to be here.’ I got a little bit of the giggles. I understood the concept behind it.”
Those in the industry say this is just the beginning for cannabis, specifically hemp-derived components, in beverages.
“CBD is really like the next vitamin C,” says Bob Summers, the chief operating officer of Nevada Botanical Science and BotanaVista. “It’s going to be in everything.”
Summers says he already is talking with four other bars in Northern Nevada about incorporating BotanaVista terpenes into their drinks. And if the demand keeps up, the folks at 1864 have plans to expand their offerings with more cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks.
“It’s coming on board quickly,” Summers says. “You’ll see it in full force very soon.”
Claire Cudahy is a Zephyr Cove-based writer who is excited to see how creative Northern Nevada is getting when it comes to cannabis. After her purely scientific research of terpene cocktails, you may find her sipping on a Lazy Daisy at 1864 Tavern on a Friday night.
Pianissimo Coffee and More
7689 S. Virginia St., Ste. E, Reno
775-204-4788 • Renocoffeeshop.com
290 California Ave., Reno
775-329-1864 • 1864tavern.com