If you must do something, try to do something you love. If you can craft a calling out of multiple passions, even better.
As the creative mind behind The Herb Somm, a lifestyle brand, and blog focused on treating Cannabis as a high-end ingredient worthy of culinary exploration, Jamie Evans has done just that, by blending a rich career in wine with a zeal for terpene-rich weed. We connected with Evans to talk about the journey that led her to a career in Cannabis, her books, and her new project, Herbacée – a line of Cannabis-infused sparkling wines inspired by French tradition, set to launch this fall.
New buds on the vine
As with so many people, Evans wound her own unexpected path to the Cannabis world.
Evans, a Certified Specialist in Wine with a Bachelor of Science in Viticulture with a concentration in Wine Business, spent much of her career on the track you’d expect from someone with the degree – working with companies such as Kendall-Jackson, and Folio Fine Wine Partners from industry heavyweight Michael Mondavi.
After the better part of a decade, she came to find that it was difficult to rise in the ranks of the established corporate culture. In 2017, she started turning her view to the blossoming Cannabis industry.
“I really started noticing that Cannabis was becoming such a point of conversation around the Bay Area,” she said. “Especially around the culinary world and Cannabis.”
Evans had some experience with Cannabis, going back to when she was studying the intricacies of wine in college.
“I would come back from my sensory evaluation classes, and smell different Cannabis, and I would think, ‘There are a lot of similarities in the way these things smell,’” she said. “I have always been drawn to the way that Cannabis smells.”
In 2017, Evans had been using Cannabis and CBD tinctures to battle trauma-induced insomnia resulting from witnessing a horrible car accident and had tremendous respect for the healing power of the plant. She decided to attend a Women in Weed conference in the Bay Area, and after seeing so many female entrepreneurs who’d built their futures in Cannabis, she realized she’d found her calling.
A culinary adventure
It all started over dinner. Well, dinners. Plural.
Evans began hosting infused culinary experiences, blending her knowledge of hosting wine events with the pairing potential of Cannabis.
“It’s about thinking about Cannabis as a gourmet ingredient, rather than just something that can get you high,” she said.
Evans worked with chefs to build four-course meals paired with wine and Cannabis, with each pairing inspired by terpene profiles. She would have glasses filled with terpenes, so attendees could pinpoint specific characteristics and leave with a more well-rounded knowledge of the intricacies of the plant.
“Once they make that memory association with a certain smell, then it’s easy to pick it out,” Evans said. “It’s just about training your nose on the different terpenes … I really wanted to bring this concept of pairing, and incorporating Cannabis and food, into a meal. It was just so cool, because about 10 percent of these people who would come to these dinners would come without any Cannabis experience.”
Many attendees who did have Cannabis experience had limited experience – think of that person who ate a super-potent pot brownie in college and never tried it again. With her lower-dose, experience-based meals, Evans was on a mission to unlock the potential of the plant for those people.
A cultivated calling
In wine, a sommelier is a certified specialist in wine and wine pairing. It’s an intensely difficult designation to achieve, and a skilled sommelier can elevate an experience from the ordinary to the transcendent.
It’s this concept of meticulously considered pairing, curation, and creation that Evans hopes to achieve with The Herb Somm. Her first book, “Cannabis Drinks,” was published in April 2021, and explores the world of infused cocktails, made both with and without alcohol.
Evans is thrilled by the concept of low-dose infused beverages that can be shared and experienced the way people have traditionally enjoyed alcohol. That’s why in addition to her books and events, she’s preparing to launch Herbacée – her own line of sparkling non-alcoholic infused wines, blended in the traditions of Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley, Provence, and of course, Champagne.
“Wine country is weed country, and weed country is wine country,” Evans said. “What grows together, goes together.”
RECIPES from Cannabis Drinks, by Jamie Evans
Blackberry Ginger Bramble
By: Jamie Evans, The Herb Somm featured in Cannabis Drinks
Originating in London in the 1980s, the Bramble traditionally incorporates dry gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, crème de mûre (a blackberry liquor), and crushed ice. As an old classic, here’s a fun and refreshing cannabis-infused blackberry ginger Bramble you can try at home. Rather than using blackberry liqueur, try adding fresh blackberries, then muddle with your ingredients including cannabis-infused ginger simple syrup. Add a splash of ginger beer and an optional dash of bitters for an extra kick of flavor!
IMPORTANT: There are a few precautions you should take before mixing cannabis and hemp products with alcohol. It’s best to proceed with caution and stick to the low side of the dosage range, which is reflected in the recipes found in the cocktail section of Cannabis Drinks. Above all, remember to start low and go slow.
Yield: 1 serving
Target Dose: 12 mg CBD | 3 mg THC per drink (using Cannabis-Infused Ginger Simple Syrup, find the recipe in the book) or your preferred dose (using commercially made CBD or THC tincture of your choice, see note below)
1/3 cup (43 g) fresh blackberries
1 ¼ ounces (37.5 ml) fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 ounce (22 ml) dry gin
3/4 ounce (22 ml) Cannabis-Infused Ginger Simple Syrup (find the recipe in the book)
Dash of Angostura bitters
Blackberry and a lemon twist, for garnish
In a shaker tin, muddle the blackberries with the lemon juice until the berries release their juices. Add the gin and infused simple syrup, then add ice and shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Fill an old-fashioned glass with fresh crushed ice. Place a Hawthorne strainer on the top of the shaker tin, then strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer over the old-fashioned glass to remove the seeds. Top with a splash of ginger beer and a dash of Angostura bitters. Give the drink a stir, then garnish with a blackberry and a lemon twist.
Note: If you don’t have the supplies to make cannabis-infused ginger simple syrup, simply use non-infused simple syrup, add your favorite unflavored tincture (at your preferred dose) into the shaker tin, then follow the directions as noted.
Text © 2021 Jamie Evans – Recipe from Cannabis Drinks: Secrets to Crafting CBD and THC Beverages at Home
Apple Spice CBD Mule
By: Jamie Evans, The Herb Somm featured in Cannabis Drinks
Festive drinks with seasonal flavors are a must for the holidays. Treat your guests to an Apple Spice CBD Mule. This gorgeous-looking recipe will keep the party vibes flowing, and it will also help your guests avoid that nasty holiday hangover. Combining the delicious flavors of apple cider, ginger beer, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and infused cinnamon-cardamom simple syrup, this recipe will be a holiday go-to for seasons to come.
Yield: 1 serving
Target Dose: 8 mg CBD | 2 mg THC per drink (using Infused Cinnamon-Cardamom Simple Syrup, find the recipe in the book) or your preferred dose (using commercially made CBD or THC tincture of your choice, see note below)
3 ounces (90 ml) spiced apple cider (make your own for the best flavor, see recipe below)
1/2 ounce (15 ml) Infused Cinnamon-Cardamom Simple Syrup (find the recipe in the book)
1/2 ounce (15 ml) fresh-squeezed lime juice
Ice to fill mug (cracked iced recommended but cubed ice works, too)
Cinnamon stick, apple slices, and star anise, for garnish
Combine the spiced apple cider, infused simple syrup, and lime juice in a copper mug. Stir the ingredients well using a bar spoon. Fill the mug with ice, then top with ginger beer, slowly pouring until the mug is full. Give it a stir, then garnish with a cinnamon stick, an apple slice, and star of anise before serving.
Note: If you don’t have the supplies to infuse CBD and THC into the cinnamon-cardamom simple syrup, simply substitute for the non-infused version and add your favorite unflavored tincture (at your preferred dose) to the mixing glass. Then, proceed with the recipe.
How to Make The Herb Somm’s Spiced Apple Cider
Add 8 apples of your choice (cut into quarters), ½ orange, 5 cinnamon sticks, 5 whole cardamom pods, 1 teaspoon whole allspice, 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 1 whole nutmeg, and ½ cup (100 g) packed golden brown sugar into the bottom of a large stockpot. Cover with 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) of water, then bring to a boil. Stir, then cover the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours. Using a ladle, remove the orange and discard. Carefully mash the apples using a potato masher, then simmer the cider uncovered for an additional hour. Finally, strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean saucepan or pitcher to remove the solids. Enjoy hot or cold within one week.