What Is ‘California Sober’ (and Is There Anything Fun to Drink)?

So-called “California sober” has entered the lexicon lately, as millennials are reportedly done with hangovers and health risks, brah. But what is California sober, exactly? And where does that leave those of us who’d like a little something more than a Diet Coke to take the edge off, whether at home after a long day or when we’re slipping into a party?

According to Vice and The Cut, the term is loosely defined as a lifestyle in which you don’t drink alcoholic beverages or take recreational drugs, except cannabis. As Los Angeles–based writer Molly Lambert tweeted, Cali sober means you are “weed edge,” an update of “straight edge,” the nickname for the subculture of sober punk rockers.

While the proliferation of weed boutiques, vaping apparatuses and the smell of cannabis on every street corner signal that smoking isn’t going away any time soon, there’s been a big industry push toward developing cannabis beverages. Constellation Brands (the company behind Corona beer and Svedka vodka) invested $4 billion in Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth in advance of its debuting a beverage line this year, and in the past two years, cannabis beverage sales have doubled. The new and different market proposition for today’s THC- and CBD-infused drinks is that they taste better—instead of being sugary sodas, they are low-calorie, low-sugar drinks that are closer in taste to LaCroix than Jolt Cola. Additionally, many companies are touting proprietary new tech like nanoemulsion (a way to make oily cannabis particles so tiny that they actually dissolve in water and are rapidly bioavailable, i.e., you feel the effects faster). Sure, but the non-science nerds among us are just nodding our heads and thinking, Yes, but how does it taste? And how will it make me feel?

Here are some notes on just that, reviewing the cream of today’s crop of cannabis beverages.

what is california sober cann

Lightweight Much? Pop A Cann

With just two milligrams of THC, each 7.5-ounce can of Cann is the cannabis beverage equivalent of a beer. A light beer at that—it has just 30 calories and eight grams of sugars from agave. The three flavors are light and artisanal: blood orange cardamom (zesty), grapefruit rosemary (refreshing) and lemon lavender (tart). The pretty pastel cans as well as the light taste recall your favorite sparkling water, while the teensy amount of psychoactive chemical means you need to drink a couple to really feel any giddiness. Each can also contains four milligramsof CBD, the chemical in cannabis that imparts a sense of calm rather than a buzz, making it a great choice for when you just want something to help you relax.

what is california sober alt

Like To Mix Flavors? Cop A Vial Of Alt

Let’s say you want to dip your toes into the waters of weedy drinks, but you aren’t so keen on leaving behind your favorite flavor profiles, like a spicy tomatoey Bloody Mary or a fizzy cucumber shrub and tonic. Or heck, maybe you just love your Pepsi. Sidle up to the bar and order any of these sans alcohol, then add a vial of ALT (Advanced Liquid Technology). These mixes of cannabis oil, distilled water, plant-based stabilizers, vitamins and natural flavors are basically flavorless with a slight note of grass, and can be mixed into any drink you want. What’s nice about this is that the nanotechnology-derived cannabis particles are absorbed into your body faster than most edibles (15 minutes tops rather than an hour). Currently, a set of five vials is available in the microdose five milligram strength, although there are ten milligram and 50 milligram strengths in development. And great news, aspiring chemists—there are lines on the side of each vial, to experiment to see just how much of a vial (or how many vials) you want to add to achieve the desired effect.

what is california sober tinley

Boat Drinks, But Make It Cannabis

Tinley Tonics and Tinley ’27 Elixirs are lower in sugar and calories than the alcoholic beverages they have been mixed in homage to. With five milligrams of Pineapple Jack sativa THC in each serving, a bottle of Tinley High Horse or Stone Daisy tonic will hit you about as hard as a pineapple punch or an agave sour, but without leaving you headachy in the morning. The brand also sells bottles of coconut-, almond- and cinnamon-flavored THC-infused mixers that can be enjoyed on the rocks or combined with other mixers. Cheers.

dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...