Nowhere is retail cannabis making more strides right now than in the beverage category, where recent developments in “consumption nanotechnology” are enabling infused liquids to take effect way faster than the usual 45-minute wait for edibles. Riding the crest of this wave is Tinley Beverage Company, which produces lines of both “tonics” (with margarita and Moscow mule flavors) and “elixirs,” which replicate the bottle design of hard liquor brands and, minus the boozy heat, their flavor profile, with coconut (think rum), almond (amaretto), and cinnamon (uh, Fireball?) options.
Once imbibed straight up or as part of a cocktail (non-alcoholic or otherwise), the cannabis effects start within minutes, intensifying over the next half hour. It’s not quite as instantaneous as smoking, but there’s no need to inhale or unleash pungent aromas either. With a capful of elixir containing little more than a one milligram dose (four capfuls is a 5mg shot), the ability to manage intake is precise as possible. (That said, friends who’ve had unpleasant edible experiences struggled a bit with these, too.)
I asked Tinley’s founder/owner Jeffrey Maser how this all came to be. “It started three years ago when I was at a party, holding a cocktail in my hand and really wishing that it was going to give me a cannabis effect instead of an alcohol effect — that would be way more fun and healthier and leave no hangover,” Maser told me over the phone from his Los Angeles office. “I wished there was some way I could create the product, so I set out to see if it could be done.”
He contacted beverage industry associates from his former career, raised some money, and began working with liquor formulators to emulate the flavors of known brands but without the alcohol. “And then I had to find a way to infuse cannabis in a way that protects the original taste,” he said. “It’s been a long road. The science has been difficult.”
An “explosion of science” occurred in 2019, when beverage engineers figured out how to infuse cannabis without so much skunkiness. Even trickier, they determined how to get cannabis oil to properly suspend in water-based liquids and remain clear, rather than just go cloudy and sink to the bottom, requiring a shake before each sip.
Perhaps most importantly for cannabis enthusiasts, these motivated marijuana-ologists discovered the means to make the effects of liquid infusions come on quickly. By using what’s called “consumption nanotechnology,” producers can now make the psychoactive cannabis components tiny enough to achieve “enhanced bioavailability.” In practical terms, that means the body can start accessing those cannabinoids through the soft tissues of the mouth and stomach rather than having to wait for the liver to do the job. That full digestive process is what takes traditional edibles so long to hit.
“You can start feeling some portion right away, and you feel about three-quarters of the effect in 25 minutes,” explained Maser, who compares the psychoactive effects to vaping. “And the sooner it’s absorbed into your system, the sooner it gets expelled.” In other words, the Tinley effects fade within a few hours, unlike those gummies that still cloud your head the next morning.
Maser pushed to make sure his beverages weren’t just laced with THC, but included all of the terpenes and cannabinoids found in a full-flower experience. “It doesn’t matter if it’s coming from a drink or a vape or a joint — if it doesn’t make the consumer feel good, then they’re not gonna come back to the product,” he said. “We felt it was important to replicate and provide a full-flower effect in a drink.” That’s how they settled on the Pineapple Jack Sativa, which Maser said offers a euphoric feeling perfect for a social setting.
He’s aware that people may mix booze into his product, but thinks that defeats the purpose. Said Maser, “The mission of the company is to give people the opportunity to enjoy premium adult beverages without alcohol.”
Tinley Beverage Company products ($24/four-pack of Tinley Tonics; $42/bottle of Tinley ’27) are available in Santa Barbara at The Farmacy and Cal Green Medical. See drinktinley.com.