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But How Do All These Hemp Drinks Actually Taste?

Pictured: TJM Editor Chris Faraone testing drinks at his desk while editing our series on hemp-derived THC in Mass

Sampling Cycling Frog, Flyers, Trail Magic, and Cheech & Chong’s High & Dry

Last week, Talking Joints Memo published an extensive five-part series about the increasing popularity and resulting tension over hemp-derived THC products in Massachusetts. It’s literally a long story—about 10,000 words, if we’re being specific—but one thing it did not include were subjective reviews of the actual products.

But now that we got the reporting piece out of the way, and with readers asking how we personally feel about so-called synthetics that are covered by the 2018 federal Farm Bill despite getting you high like regulated weed products, it seemed natural to pass a few cans to our connoisseur cadre. Here’s what they floated back to us …

Grapefruit Twist Seltzer by Cheech & Chong’s High & Dry (Minnesota)

One of our favorites on the market, and not merely out of deference to the iconic stoner comedy duo billboarding the brand, this is an incredibly refreshing sip, every bit a thirst quencher as any ordinary bubbly refreshment in your fridge.

Subtlety is the word of the day here, and while a lot of hemp drinks showing up in Mass are in line with products we’ve only seen a lot of in dispensaries over the last year, like sodas and mocktails, Cheech & Chong tackled the quintessential basic beverage, the seltzer, and they nailed it. Also available in Raspberry Highball, Citrus Sunrise, and Magic Mule flavors.

Half & Half by Trail Magic (Minnesota)

Straight from the Minnesota hotbed and home base of hemp-derived beverages, Trail Magic is just about the best damn infused drink of any kind we’ve had, whether made from natural or synthetic cannabinoids.

A rare refreshing iced tea-lemonade blend that doesn’t rot your roof with residue, its ever so slight effervescence and perfectly sweet-tart taste is smooth enough to drink them one after the other. We haven’t been able to locate and sample their Berry Basil, Mimosa, or Lime Margarita varieties yet, but with this kind of sweet introduction we are eager to.

Ruby Grapefruit THC Seltzer by Cycling Frog (Oregon)

Even in outstanding company, and among any number of stellar seltzers, this one really stands out. And let’s be honest, that isn’t easy to do on increasingly crowded shelves. Cycling Frog may have pedaled ahead of competitors by being one of the first to crash the mass market (as well as the Mass market, being in more than 90 bay State stores and restaurants), but our first few sips truly convinced us that their rep has actual merit.

With slightly fewer bubbles than regular seltzers and a touch less grapefruit flavor than a Fresca, this artisan extract expertly threads the needle, delivering remarkable body, tang, zip, smack, and refreshment.

Sparkling Margarita by Flyers Cocktail Company (New York)

Part of a line of infused cocktails that also includes Ol’ Fashioned and THC Spritz options, this yuzu-orange-chili flavored elixir will stand the hairs on the back of your neck straight up, and in the sweetest way possible.

The only thing that’s subtle here is the THC content; the flavor, a unique citrus spin on a typical margarita, sticks in your nose and tingles, leaving quite the serious impression. We found that it is best served cold, or else you run the small risk of having its dryness overshadow the positive features, sort of like with ginger beer.