Cannabis Alcohol Is Here! These Are The Drinks You Need PLUS How To Make Your Own

Two innovative South African brands have released cannabis alcohol this year! Okay, it's hemp-infused gin and beer but it's a health hype we can get behind.

Kelleigh Korevaar |

In case you haven’t been privy to the joyful statuses from a few of your Facebook friends, on 18 September, the South African Constitutional Court legalised the private use of marijuana.

Unsurprisingly, in the weeks that have followed, people haven’t committed to a life on the couch, there are enough snacks in the shop for everyone, and really, not much has changed.

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Well, except, of course, for the fact that two local South African brands (that we love) have released hemp-infused alcohol.

But if you’re thinking the benefits of hemp are all about a different kind of buzz, you’re wrong. First of all, hemp contains a minute amount of THC, which is the compound found in marijuana that gets you high. Secondly, hemp is high in protein, unsaturated fats, fibre, minerals, vitamins, and it provides all 9 amino acids.

According to a study published in the journal Food Chemistry the cannabidiol found in hemp seeds could help with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.  And it’s also believed to improve heart health and reduce inflammation.

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And you can expect a lot more alcohol brands to jump aboard the bud buzz. According to Beverage Daily, Shane Macguill, the head of tobacco research at Euromonitor says that legalising cannabis is going to disrupt and have a huge effect on the alcohol and tobacco industries, especially alcohol.

So let’s get right into the movers, makers, and the shakers of the alcohol industry. These are the drinks that need to be in your bar.

Poison City Durban Poison Cannabis Lager

This is a low-calorie, easy drinking hemp-infused beer. “The hemp oil infused into brew from the hemp seeds also adds a unique flavour and offers a great healthy addition to the beer,” says Poison City Brewing founder, Graeme Bird.

So what made them decide to make South Africa’s first cannabis beer? “Our brand has cannabis as part of its DNA and we always planned to be the first company in South Africa to release a cannabis beer. We even named ourselves Poison City Brewing because Durban is best known for the famous Durban Poison cannabis strain,” says Bird.

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And if you thought it was easy as mixing some hemp with beer, you would be wrong. “It took us a year to develop the perfect recipe and identify the steps needed to legally supply a cannabis product in the South African market,” says Bird.

You can get a six pack for R114 (Buy It Here).

MONKS Mary Jane

“From its earliest origins in the Middle ages, gin has evolved from a herbal medicine to an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Besides creating distinctively South African gins with infusions of locally foraged fynbos, we wanted to retain an element of that history and alchemy by adding a ‘healing’ or ‘medicinal’ ingredient to each of our varieties,” says Di Davis, one of the founders of MONKS.

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They’ve done that with every gin they’ve released and the Mary Jane is no different. This is also the first hemp-infused gin in South Africa.

“Hemp has enjoyed a massive resurgence in popularity in the past couple of years, with the growing awareness of its health benefits. The earliest recorded mention of Cannabis being used medicinally dates back to 2700BC, and up until its abrupt prohibition in 1930, it was the world’s most widely prescribed medicinal extract,” says Davis.

“In SA, the problem really lies with a misunderstanding of the difference between marijuana and hemp. It’s important to note that hemp is the non-psychoactive plant and besides it being incredibly good for you, it contains terpenes, particularly Limonene, which can also be found in juniper, lavender, mint and most citrus peel, so it is absolutely ideal for gin infusion. Our search for the perfect terpene coincided with the court challenge to decriminalise Cannabis, so the launch of Mary Jane was perfectly serendipitous.

MH readers tend to be mindful of their calorie intake, so gin beats beer or wine hands down in that department, particularly when mixed with a sugar free tonic water.”

Why Mary Jane in particular? “Because in addition to being a damn fine gin, packed with the anti-oxidant benefits of juniper berries and all the benefits of hemp oil, it’s downright delicious with a slice of grapefruit to enhance the terpene profile,” says Davis.

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Are you sold? We are, too. That’s why we’re bringing you two MONKS Mary Jane cocktail recipes, thanks to the MONKS mixologists.

The Mary Jane Perfect Pour


50ml MONKS Mary Jane

Fitch & Leeds Pink Tonic


Fill a glass with ice and add your gin. Top it up with tonic and garnish with a slice of fresh or dehydrated grapefruit and a full star of anise.

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The Green Monk


50ml MONKS Mary Jane or Mysterium

1 tsp brown sugar

Juice of half a lemon

Handful of basil leaves, torn up

Barker & Quin Indian Tonic Water


Add the gin, brown sugar, lemon and basil leaves. Top up the shaker with ice and shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Pour into a tumbler. Fill glass with ice and top up with tonic. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of basil.

You can get a bottle of Monk Mary Jane for R499 (Buy It Here).

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What If You Want To Make Your Own Canna Cocktail?

“It is completely possible to add hemp oil or powder to cocktails. My suggestion would be to simply add a small amount of either the powder or oil to any of your existing favourite cocktails recipes to give it a lil hemp kick,” says Julian Short, master mixologist from trendy Johannesburg bar Sin+Tax.

Julian Short has come up with his own two ingredient “Canna Cocktail” for us:

Mary’s Martini.


MONKS Mary Jane Gin

Dry Vermouth


Use 4 parts MONKS Mary Jane gin to 1 part dry vermouth. Stir for 30 seconds over ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a hemp leaf and with 3 drops of hemp oil.

You can get hemp seed oil for R89 a bottle (Buy It Here). And if you want hemp powder to add to your cocktails and protein shakes for extra benefits and protein, it’s R195 for 850g (Buy It Here.).

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