A Glimpse Into Jockey Hollow’s Upcoming “Canna Booze Dinner”

The team talks about how they plan to incorporate CBD products into dishes and drinks at their April 17 dinner.

Jockey Hollow
Photo courtesy of Jockey Hollow

Earlier this year, we predicted that the demand for CBD (aka cannabidiol) would soon cross over into the dining scene. With Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen’s “Canna Booze Dinner” on the horizon, it seems like that moment has finally come for New Jersey.

Coordinated by Jockey Hollow managing partner Chris Cannon, the April 17 dinner aims to dispel misinformation, showcasing CBD not as a cure-all product, but a carefully studied plant-derived compound with potential culinary applications. Cannon partnered chef Craig Polignano and mixologist James Gelmi with Oleg MaryAces, director of education and marketing for Brooklyn-based CBD producer Lock & Key Remedies.

Beyond the science of what CBD can do for the human body (at the moment the only FDA-approved CBD treatment is for epilepsy), it already seems clear that food and CBD won’t be a question of “CBD vs. THC” so much as “CBD plus terpenes,” organic compounds found in hemp, marijuana, and other plants that just might work in beautiful synchronicity with flavor and mood.

We caught up with the team to find out more about the dinner, how they’ll incorporate CBD, and whether we’ll see more of it at Jockey Hollow.

Table Hopping: Terpenes mean flavor, but not all CBD products contain terpenes. What products is Lock and Key making available to Jockey Hollow for the dinner?
Oleg MaryAces: Our Extreme Tinctures Whole Plant Extract, with a wide range of terpenes; and our CBD Isolate Oil, which are tasteless, giving them versatility.

TH: What methods are you using to incorporate the only flavored CBD product?
Craig Polignano: [The Whole Plant Extract] is made of a blend of black pepper, turmeric, eucalyptus, orange, and wintergreen. It’ll be going into the sauce for the chicken course [Roasted Amish Chicken with Black Barley, Clementines, and Juniper-Scented Jus], which has juniper and orange, so it’ll play well with the herbaciousness of the product. The tincture form is very complementary to the flavors of the dish.

James Gelmi: I’ll be using three techniques. First is fat-washing, which adds texture to the spirit and a subtle flavor of whatever fat is used. I’ll implement this technique for our Lemon Balm Gin and Tonic by fat-washing the gin with the [Whole Plant Extract]. For infusing, I’ll use a CBD powder to infuse absinthe and/or our house amaro. This implements the CBD into spirits without flavor disruption. And I’ll be making a syrup using lecithin powder to incorporate CBD without separation to use in the Absinthe Sazerac.

TH: Beyond terpenes and any flavor impact, what about the CBD itself? Will there be any mood impact with dishes and drinks?
CP: Overall, we’re creating an experience, not just one food or drink will have an impact. We’re “spreading the love” of CBD throughout the dinner, and pacing the dosage.

TH: Was there any conscious effort to avoid loud or bracing flavors, e.g. sour, bitter, hot flavors?
JG: All of our cocktails besides the gin and tonic are the opposite of the bright and sour flavors, but the thought process wasn’t to avoid those for our guests because it would inhibit their relaxation. Course three is a light and bright gin and tonic with a true expression of how to make CBD flavors work.

TH: What about the ABV question? Drinks have their own, very well-documented, intoxicant effects. How did you factor CBD’s effects into your recipes?
JG: Being cognizant of what your guest is doing, experiencing, and consuming is a huge part of what makes a good bartender. With the added challenge of four CBD courses, we were mindful. Most of the cocktails are light or low ABV, except one. And the portions will be under strict control.

TH: What about the meal, chef Polignano? Will you use ingredients intended to “cooperate” with the effects of CBD?
CP: The menu intentionally has many earthy, homey qualities, like rich crab, roast chicken, a chocolate dessert—the ultimate soul-warming food, which pairs really well with the mood-enhancing effects of CBD, along with the herbaceous flavors. The use of CBD is still new, and a little taboo, and this is a first for us. I look forward to seeing how it’s received, and perhaps there will be an opportunity to incorporate it more on the regular menu.

TH: What about the drinks list? Should guests keep an eye out for it on the regular cocktail menu?
JG: I’m very excited to work in a place so forward-thinking and fun. I didn’t know more than a few buzz notes about CBD prior to the dinner. I don’t think CBD will be making a regular appearance on our cocktail menu, but if there’s demand for it? Never say never.

Tickets to Jockey Hollow’s Canna Booze Dinner are $95 plus tax and tip, and can be reserved online. The dinner takes place Wednesday, April 17 from 6:30-10:30pm in the Rathskeller at Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, 110 South Street, Morristown; 973-644-3180.

If you’re CBD-curious but can’t make the dinner, here’s a list of a few other places in New Jersey where CBD is regularly on the menu.

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