New York City has been infused with CBD—if you don't want to simply drop it on your tongue, you can get a calming hit of it in your ice cream, brownies, lattes, craft beers, and fancy cocktails. The latest spot to offer up the latter is a full-on CBD-focused cocktail bar and restaurant, which just opened in Astoria.
Adriaen Block is named after the Dutch privateer who was the first white man to navigate the treacherous waters of the tidal strait Hell's Gate and set eyes on Astoria, in 1614. Zsolt “George” Csonka, the Hungarian owner of Adriaen Block, is also an explorer of sorts, having traveled the world, working in the hospitality industry, before setting his eyes on the soothing shores of CBD cocktails.
Csonka came to New York in 2009, where he earned a bachelors in economics at John Jay College. It was that economist's mindset that got him thinking of opening a CBD-focused cocktail bar, as more and more people seemed centering in on mindfulness and wellness. "These people, they don't want to get a hangover from hard liquor, they want to have one or two drinks... and tomorrow they still want to go to the gym,” he told Gothamist.
Since CBD cocktails are a relatively new trend, I was curious how Csonka figured out how to incorporate it into his recipes. His rule: nothing too strong. There is an equal number of zero proof CBD cocktails on his roster as well. The menu, watermarked with a pot leaf garnishing a cocktail, explains "CBD will not get you high, but you may experience a calming sensation." The explanation is probably necessary, since the drink names lean heavily on stoner puns: Stoney Negroni, Bakin' & Eggs, Rolled Fashion. You get it.
But the science on mixing CBD with booze is mixed. Some studies have shown that combining CBD with alcohol could have a beneficial effect. But the combination could also intensify the experience.
“On CBD, you’re very chill, very lighthearted, mellow. The alcohol will make that more intense,” James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center, told Vice. "If you’re a happy drunk, then CBD could make you a happier drunk," Giordano says. “If you’re an angry or violent drunk, the CBD may certainly disinhibit some of that.”
There is a two drink limit for CBD cocktails, whether alcoholic or non. And if you are getting the CBD sauce for your entree (they recommend it on the side of their steak and truffle fries), or the CBD whipped cream on a dessert, then your CBD drink limit goes down to one. Csonka said that everyone on the waitstaff has been trained to enforce the limit. "It's a very delicate product," he said.
Csonka told Gothamist that he researched what other CBD cocktail bars on the west coast were doing in order to determine how much CBD to add to each drink. It's added with a dropper after the drink is made. While he did not say how much is added to each cocktail exactly, a publicist for Adriaen Block explained, "There are different potencies of CBD oil tinctures, so for each drink at they follow manufacturer's recommendations and use half of the suggested daily amount."
When Gothamist's Ben Yakas took a deep dive into the world of CBD, he found that the amount recommended varies widely, and different amounts affect people differently.
Many suggestions we've found online recommend anywhere from 10mg to 1500 mg. "That's a big problem!" said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center who has been closely studying CBD for the last five years. "Outside of epilepsy, we have precious little scientific data on that." Most experts I spoke with recommend a trial-and-error process of calibrating your own needs, starting with a tiny amount then building up from there.
"It's important to understand that CBD is biphasic in its nature, so in small doses it's gonna make you feel more alert and activated, and then in larger doses, it's going to have more of a calming, sedating effect," said Berg. "With that being said, a large dose may not be suitable for every application of CBD, and that's why we kind of suggest microdosing. We also suggest that because your absorption rate depends on your metabolic rate. So with larger people it might be the case that they would need more to assimilate."
Adriaen Block, open now. 19-33 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, Queens. The hours are 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. (Sun-Thurs) and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Fri-Sat)